What spurs this feisty derby?


The ‘North London’ derby promises to be a mouth watering affair this weekend.

 WHEN I was young, I had no idea what the North London derby was all about. An uncle of mine, who is based in London told me it is one of the feistiest derbies in England. I was 10 when he told me this.

I supported Arsenal but at the time I didn't know much about Tottenham Hotspur. The rivals I knew at the time were Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle United.

I was young and my football knowledge wasn’t strong at the time. After a couple of years, I realised how important and passionate a derby is. It was such a joy to watch Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Ledley King and Patrick Vieira strut their stuff on the pitch.

The banter could be heard throughout the stadium and it was fun to watch these games. Not to mention the boos! Ex-Gunner-turned-Spur Emmanuel Adebayor should expect a feisty reception tomorrow!

The Gunners led by Arsene Wenger have had a mixed start to the season while Tottenham has also had a mixed start, having had two poor Premier League losses against Liverpool and West Brom.

How did this derby start? The first league match between the two teams was in the first division, on Dec 4, 1909. The proper rivalry started in 1913 when Arsenal moved to Highbury, just 6.4km from White Hart Lane, naturally becoming a local rival.

However, things escalated in 1919. Why? After World War I, the First Division was to be expanded by two teams, and the League held a meeting to decide the two clubs via means of vote.

First spot went to Chelsea but the second spot could have been awarded to 20th-placed Tottenham, or Barnsley, who finished third in the Second Division.

However, Arsenal along with four other clubs also bid for the place, despite only finishing fifth in Division Two at the time.

It was endorsed by League President and chairman of Liverpool John McKenna due to Arsenal's longer membership in the League. Arsenal won the vote by 18 votes to Spurs' eight and they were elected to the First Division.

It was alleged that Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris used underhand dealings to make it happen, although it wasn't proven. Norris was later banned for life from football for other offences. The decision infuriated Spurs fans and the rivalry just got stronger and stronger.

History lesson done, now let's come back to the present. Mauricio Pochettino has already stamped his mark during a press conference by saying that he aims to 'write history' in North London derby.

If Spurs win this, it will be a big boost for them and the fans but Arsenal are no pushovers. To be honest, Arsenal are currently in a defensive crisis and it might be their achilles heel for this game.

They currently only have five fully fit defenders and one of them, Per Mertesacker looks shaky. Hopefully he shakes off his early season jitters and gives his best against Spurs. Who knows, he might even score against them!

The key man for Spurs would be Christian Eriksen. Given space and time, the Danish international can be devastating. Together with Eric Lamela, he will be tasked to provide the ammunition for Adebayor.

New Arsenal signing Alexis Sanchez is beginning to look comfortable with Arsenal and he will be the main man together with German international Mesut Ozil. Expect Jack Wilshere to be pumped up for this game. The life-long Arsenal fan will surely want to win this tie at all costs.

Emotion, passion and the drive to win - The team that has these three elements will surely win this game. They know bragging rights is at stake and fans will surely want their teams to do well.

As an Arsenal fan, obviously I want the Gunners to win but most importantly, I want this derby to be an entertaining one.

The North London derby is not the only derby you're going to watch in the Barclays Premier League. Everton and Liverpool will face-off in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Liverpool have lost three of their first five matches and Brendan Rodgers will want his players to bounce back for this tie. Everton under Roberto Martinez have improved a lot and with Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool will have to be on their toes!

Both managers have similar philosophies and it will be interesting to watch this battle!

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli has embraced the derby by sporting a new hair-do but the fans will only want this from the mercurial forward - The drive and passion to beat and score against their stern rivals!

 

 > The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.

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