20 facts you didn't know about the North London derby

Michael Bush

6 Nov 2016

Updated: 24 May 2023

With Sunday marking the return of the always fiercely contested North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Gunners' Emirates Stadium, it seems as good a time as any for our sports betting nerds here at Profit Accumulator to cast a glance over some of the most interesting facts about the fixture.

The first 'North London derby' wasn't a North London derby

Bear with us - we're referring to the first match between the then newly christened Tottenham Hotspur and a team then called Royal Arsenal on Tottenham Marshes on 19th November 1887. As the Who Ate All The Pies website reminds us, the latter of those teams actually hailed from a munitions factory in South London - more specifically, Woolwich.

The first derby didn't even reach 90 minutes

If you think some of the excuses given for modern-day North London derby losses are fruity enough, just consider the fact that Arsenal were losing 2-1 to Spurs in that aforementioned first match with 15 minutes to go, only for their complaints about lack of light to result in the game being called off.

There is only one known match report for that first fixture

It was in The Weekly Herald and read: "Tottenham Hotspur v Royal Arsenal - The 'Spurs at once began to attack, but 10 minutes from the start, the Arsenal scored a lucky goal. From this point, the visitors were pressed throughout, and, had it not been for the splendid defence of F. Beardsley (Notts Forest), in goal, the score would have been much larger."

It wasn't the only North London derby to be called off...

Fast-forward to 1900, and it was once again Arsenal who got the game called off, claiming to be victims of "bad language" - and again, it was a 2-1 scoreline at the time, although weirdly enough, the Gunners were leading on this occasion.

The first competitive North London derby didn't happen until 1909

It was a league game at the Manor Ground, Plumstead, ending in a 1-0 win for the Gunners.

It took Tottenham more than seven years to rock up at Highbury

Arsenal may have been calling the now-demolished Highbury stadium - official name "Arsenal Stadium" - home since September 1913, but it took until 22nd January 1921 for Tottenham to visit. According to the official Arsenal website, the home side won the match 3-2.

Just two men have scored for both teams in North London derbies

They are Jimmy Robertson and Emmanuel Adebayor, although the list of players to have played in at least one North London derby for both teams is slightly longer, also including Laurie Brown, Sol Campbell, David Jenkins, Pat Jennings, Willie Young and William Gallas.

Arsenal easily trump Spurs when it comes to domestic honours

Counting the First Division, Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup and FA Community Shield, the Gunners can boast 41 domestic honours to Spurs' 21.

However, Spurs are more decorated on the continent

In European competitions, Tottenham retains the bragging rights, having won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup once and the UEFA Cup twice. Arsenal, for their part, have a Cup Winners' Cup honour and also won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969-70.

The most recent derby was a 2-2 draw

Spurs' Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane netted at White Hart Lane in March, only for goals by Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez to ensure that honours ended even.

Arsenal are favourites heading into the next clash

Odds of 21/20 are being quoted for an Arsenal victory by the likes of StanJames.com, William Hill and Unibet, whereas if you fancy Tottenham to triumph, the 3/1 odds offered by BetVictor, Coral and Marathonbet are surely tempting. Or what about betting on a draw at the widely quoted 13/5?

The Gunners have twice won the title at White Hart Lane

Spurs fans look away now: not only did Arsenal clinch the league title at the home of their fiercest local adversaries in 1971 thanks to Ray Kennedy's late header, Arsene Wenger's 'Invincibles' repeated the feat in 2004, with Patrick Viera and Robert Pires notching the goals to earn a decisive point.

David O'Leary has played more North London derbies than anyone else

The long-serving Arsenal defender notched up 35 North London derbies, compared to the 31 mustered by Spurs' Gary Mabbutt and Steve Perryman.

Only three hat-tricks have ever been scored in first-class North London derbies

Terry Dyson achieved this feat for Spurs in a 4-3 win for his side on 26th August 1961, while two Arsenal players - Ted Drake in 1934 and Alan Sunderland in 1978 - have also done so.

Billy Minter and Bobby Smith are the most prolific Spurs goal scorers against Arsenal

With nine goals each, they jointly hold the record.

Meanwhile, three players share the equivalent record for the Gunners...

Adebayor, Sunderland and Pires have each claimed eight goals against the White Hart Lane side, with Adebayor having scored 10 in total in North London derbies when his two goals for Spurs against Arsenal are also considered.

The biggest winning margin in a North London derby is six goals

Arsenal claimed a whopping 6-0 victory at White Hart Lane on 6th March 1935.

Harry Kane is a former Gunner... sort of

The now-Spurs talisman was a member of the Arsenal youth academy as an eight-year-old, only to be released after one season.

Among the many famous Gooners is Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leader was even heard discussing this weekend's encounter with House of Commons Speaker John Bercow after Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, commenting: "Now we've just got to beat Spurs" - to which Bercow replied, according to The Sun: "Yes. Terribly important!"

Arsenal have never gone more than five league games in a row without defeating Spurs

That may go some way to explaining why they're so strongly fancied by those looking to make money from betting this month.

Whether you're an Arsenal fan, a Tottenham supporter or simply an interested neutral, this Sunday's game is a must-not-miss fixture, not least with these teams being two of the most exciting in England right now. So, why not also give your bank account a nice boost this weekend by signing up with Profit Accumulator to place a couple of matched bets on the North London derby and other hotly-anticipated Premier League fixtures?