Who’s the Leader of the All-Time North London Derby Series?
No matter where you live and what you call it, there’s something special about facing off with your biggest sporting rival. For Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, that happens (at least) twice a year in what soccer fans call the North London Derby. The two clubs, as you might expect, call the northern part of England’s capital home, and their on-pitch meetings are a chance to claim local bragging rights.
Part of any rivalry is a rich history; every supporter will be able to remember the biggest wins, most painful losses, and the game-changing red cards that have unfolded over the years. And while those big-picture details can stand the test of time, some other information can fade into the background. Take, for example, the all-time wins and losses of the North London Derby.
In that vein, let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore the history of Arsenal vs. Tottenham.
Arsenal hold the all-time edge in North London Derbies
During Arsene Wenger’s rein, Arsenal supporters would mockingly remind Tottenham supporters to “mind the gap.” While things have become a bit more level in terms of the table in recent years, the red side of North London still holds an edge in all-time derbies.
Since the two teams started squaring off in 1896, the Gunners have won 85 North London Derbies in all competitions. Spurs have claimed victory on 67 occasions, and 54 meetings ended in a draw.
While that might not sit well with Tottenham supporters, those numbers are representative of the (somewhat) recent history of the two clubs. Starting in the late 1980s, the Gunners asserted themselves as one of England’s top clubs. Things only escalated with Arsene Wenger at the helm, as Arsenal went on to win three domestic titles under the Frenchman, including one undefeated campaign.
To add insult to injury, that Invincibles squad clinched the title at White Hart Lane. Thierry Henry originally pledged that he and his teammates wouldn’t celebrate due to safety concerns, but after Spurs’ players celebrated a late draw, the Gunners refused to hold back.
In recent years, Tottenham has made things a bit more competitive, but the home team tends to come out on top
As I mentioned, Arsenal really flexed their muscles during the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the end of Arsene Wenger’s time in London, though, the Gunners started to regress, and Tottenham took a step forward.
At the risk of reducing things to a single player, Spurs have been boosted by the emergence of Harry Kane. Scoring goals can paper over plenty of cracks, and the England striker is one of the best around when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. He also has a knack for scoring in big matches, and few are bigger than the North London Derby.
Another fact that has helped level the playing field is home field advantage slightly tilting in Tottenham’s favor. Since 2010, Spurs have won nine home derbies in the league, drawing three, and only losing one. Within that same timeframe, Arsenal won eight, lost one, and drew four at the Emirates.
No matter the trends, though, the North London Derby is a spectacle worth watching
With all of that being said, though, the appeal of the North London Derby isn’t the numbers. At the risk of being a bit fluffy, these sort of matches are what make being a sports fan special.
While everyone watches sports differently, one of the main appeals of the pastime is that you’re watching you’re watching a narrative, complete with heroes, villains, and drama unfold. Every game can provide that to some extent, but a North London Derby ups the ante.
So whether it’s Harry Kane scoring a goal against the club that released him as a boy, a homegrown player like Bukayo Saka tallying for Arsenal, the fans trading verbal barbs, or simply the experience of knowing this match matters, the North London Derby is always a date to circle on your calendar.
Stats courtesy of 11v11.com and accurate as of the 10/1/2022 North London Derby.