Tag Archives: North London Derby

Premier League Rewind: 5th-6th November 2016

Results: AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Sunderland, Burnley 3-2 Crystal Palace, Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough, West Ham United 1-1 Stoke City, Chelsea 5-0 Everton, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford, Hull City 2-1 Southampton, Swansea City 1-3 Manchester United, Leicester City 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

At the start of November 2016, the top five in the table were covered by just three points. Title favourites Manchester City led the standings but had Arsenal, Liverpool FC, a revitalised Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur right on their coattails. By the end of this particular weekend, we had new leaders again and another special Premier League goalscoring milestone had been reached.

Manchester City had wobbled recently at The Etihad Stadium, having dropped points at home to Southampton and Everton and that trend continued against Middlesbrough. Just days after sweeping aside Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League group stages, it looked like the home side were on their way to a routine victory when Sergio Aguero scored two minutes before half-time. However, despite having 25 shots on-goal, they were wasteful and were punished in the first minute of stoppage-time. George Friend’s cross was met by midfielder Marten de Roon, whose header was too powerful to be stopped by Claudio Bravo, earning Boro a fourth away draw of the season. It was now just one win in five Premier League matches for Pep Guardiola.

Chelsea had the opportunity to go top following this result at Eastlands and Eden Hazard put in an exemplary performance as Everton were crushed 5-0 at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian was in masterful form, scoring twice, whilst Pedro ably assisted with a goal of his own and two assists too. Since a half-time change of formation in defeat at Arsenal at the end of September, Chelsea hadn’t conceded a goal and had now chalked up five successive victories.

On the Sunday, Arsenal had the opportunity to take over at the summit of the table as they hosted local rivals Tottenham in the latest edition of the hotly-contested North London Derby rivalry. It seemed like they were going to inflict a first defeat of the season on Mauricio Pochettino’s side when Kevin Wimmer headed the ball into his own net from a Mesut Ozil free-kick. However, Tottenham were given a penalty by Mark Clattenburg when Mousa Dembele was tripped in the penalty area by Laurent Koscielny. On his return to the starting XI following six weeks out with injury, Harry Kane made an immediate impact on his return, converting the spot-kick as Spurs extended their unbeaten run. However, they had now drawn four successive matches since beating Manchester City a month earlier.

Ultimately, it was Liverpool FC who would end the weekend as new league leaders. Jurgen Klopp’s side produced a sparkling display against a Watford side that caved in spectacularly at Anfield. Sadio Mane scored twice and Georginio Wijnaldum struck his first Reds goal as the Hornets lost 6-1 at Anfield. Liverpool were top scorers in the division with 30 goals in just 11 matches.

There was a piece of goalscoring history at The Liberty Stadium. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the 25,000th goal in Premier League history as Manchester United strolled to a 3-1 win at Swansea and moved back into the top six. It was only their second win in eight matches and left the Swans second-bottom and only above Sunderland on goal difference. There was finally some joy for the Black Cats supporters, as they came from behind to defeat AFC Bournemouth 2-1 and record their first victory of the season at the 11th attempt of asking.

The cracks were beginning to show at Leicester City. The reigning champions were performing dreadfully on their travels but at home, they were still unbeaten until West Bromwich Albion outfought and outplayed them. Matt Phillips scored the winning goal as the Baggies made the short trip back across the Midlands with all three points following a 2-1 win and left Claudio Ranieri’s side just two points above the relegation zone.

What else happened in November 2016?

  • Republican candidate Donald Trump defeats Hilary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States.
  • Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who spent 32 years in office, dies aged 90.
  • 71 people are killed in Colombia on-board LaMia Flight 2933 which include many of the Brazilian Chapecoense football team.
  • Thomas Mair is found guilty of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire and is sentenced to life imprisonment at The Old Bailey.
  • UKIP has a new leader as Paul Nuttall is elected.
  • BBC Television celebrates its 80th anniversary.
  • Britain’s Andy Murray becomes ATP Men’s Singles World no.1, becoming the first British player to reach no.1 in the tennis rankings in the modern era.
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Great Goals: Harry Kane – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. Arsenal (March 2016)

Harry Kane has loved playing against the old enemy from North London since he made his derby debut in 2015. In March 2016, he produced a glorious shot from the edge of the penalty area to give Tottenham the lead against Arsenal in a game both sides were looking to try and win to close the gap on Leicester City at the top of the table.

The game was delicately poised at 1-1 with goals from Aaron Ramsey and Toby Alderweireld either side of Francis Coquelin being sent off for two bookable offences. Kevin Wimmer played what seemed like a hopeful ball into the corner but Dele Alli hadn’t given it up, beating Per Mertesacker to the ball and back-heeling it into the path of Kane.

Kane cut inside and produced a special curling effort that flashed past David Ospina. Wearing a protected mask after a recent facial injury, Kane ripped it off and raced off into the opposite corner of the ground to be chased gamely by his jubilant teammates. It ranks up with the best-ever North London Derby goals scored at the old White Hart Lane ground.

It wasn’t enough for all three points as Alexis Sanchez found an equaliser for Arsenal and the points were shared in a 2-2 draw. Kane though had demonstrated again why he is considered as one of the world’s best strikers.

Great Goals: Dennis Bergkamp – ARSENAL vs. Tottenham Hotspur (November 1996)

Dennis Bergkamp’s Arsenal career was littered with so many special moments and incredible goals. In the 1997-1998 campaign, the Dutchman’s superb skills saw him help Arsenal to a league and cup double and saw him win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year. One season earlier, he produced a sign of what was to come with a supreme finish in the closing stages of the Highbury North London Derby.

Arsenal had just taken a 2-1 lead through skipper Tony Adams, when Bergkamp finished the game off with this wonderful control. Strike partner Ian Wright seemed to be happy to take the ball into the corner flag to see the game out but he teased Clive Wilson into this trick. He beat the defensive midfielder and crossed the ball to the back post for Bergkamp.

Bergkamp killed the ball with a marvellous first touch which took him inside Stephen Carr. Then, his second touch saw him drive his shot past Ian Walker into the far corner of the net. Arsenal won the game 3-1 and their domination of the North London scene would continue for several years afterwards. Arsene Wenger would only lose one of these games in the next 14 years.

Great Goals: Cesc Fabregas – ARSENAL vs. Tottenham Hotspur (October 2009)

At the peak of his powers, Cesc Fabregas was one of the best midfielders in the world. Although he has gone on to achieve Premier League titles with Chelsea, it was his goalscoring prowess with Arsenal which made him such a wonderful player.

On North London Derby day in October 2009, Fabregas produced one of the finest solo goals in Premier League history. Arsenal had just gone 1-0 ahead in the 41st minute through a Robin van Persie goal from close-range. Directly from kick-off, Tottenham squandered possession and Fabregas punished them ruthlessly.

The Spaniard evaded three challenges and as Vedran Corluka started to close him down, he finished smartly into the bottom corner of the net. The defending might have been suspect from Spurs but Fabregas’ quality for this goal simply couldn’t be overlooked.

Arsenal won the game 3-0 but Tottenham would get their revenge with arguably, an even better strike in April 2010 from a Premier League debutant.

Memorable Matches: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal (April 2004)

Goalscorers: Patrick Vieira 3, Robert Pires 35, Jamie Redknapp 63, Robbie Keane 90 PEN

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Kasey Keller, Anthony Gardner, Stephen Kelly (Gus Poyet 79), Ledley King, Mauricio Taricco (Goran Bunjevcevic 90), Johnnie Jackson (Jermain Defoe 45), Michael Brown, Jamie Redknapp, Simon Davies, Freddie Kanoute, Robbie Keane

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Kolo Toure, Gilberto, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour (Edu 67), Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp (Jose Antonio Reyes 80), Thierry Henry

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 36,097

The 134th North London Derby was always going to be a passionate and feisty encounter and for Arsenal, this was the opportunity to wrap up the 2003-2004 Premier League title. Still unbeaten and with just five Premier League games to go, they were closing in on becoming ‘The Invincibles.’

Chelsea’s defeat in an earlier kick-off to Newcastle United meant Arsenal only needed a point to secure their third Premier League title and unbeaten in their last eight North London Derbies, they made a searing start, taking the lead against Tottenham inside of three minutes. From a Spurs corner which was poorly taken by Johnnie Jackson, Arsenal launched another devastating counter-attack, led by top goalscorer Thierry Henry. Henry picked out Dennis Bergkamp, who squared the ball across the face of goal for skipper Patrick Vieira to slide into the back of the net.

Tottenham were not certain of avoiding relegation just yet and they simply couldn’t live with a masterclass from their opponents. 10 minutes before half-time, Vieira set-up Robert Pires who scored for the third successive season at White Hart Lane. Apart from a Mauricio Taricco effort, David Pleat’s side threatened very little in the first half and he needed to change things tactically in the second half.

Jackson was sacrificed at half-time and Jermain Defoe was brought on and he had a big contribution in Tottenham pulling a goal back. He took on Kolo Toure in the 63rd minute, before finding Michael Brown. Brown shifted the ball across the park to Jamie Redknapp and the skipper produced a fantastic effort that spun into the bottom corner beyond Jens Lehmann. It was an enjoyable moment for a player who had been dogged by injuries throughout his career.

Arsenal had chances to wrap the game up. Pires smashed the crossbar after Anthony Gardner had carelessly conceded possession. As stoppage-time got underway, Lehmann got involved in an unnecessary confrontation with Robbie Keane from a Brown corner which had struck the crossbar. Referee Mark Halsey needed some guidance from his two assistants and they judged Lehmann had fouled Keane.

The penalty was given and Keane made no mistake to ensure Tottenham did claim a point which virtually guaranteed their Premier League survival. However, it didn’t stop the Arsenal celebrations at the full-time whistle from the supporters and the players. Their 13th league championship was definitely the sweetest. Wenger’s men survived the final four matches to become the first team since 1888 to go through a top-flight season without losing and securing their place in immortal history.

Premier League Files: Gheorghe Popescu

Premier League Career: Tottenham Hotspur (1994-1995)

A former captain of Barcelona, Gheorghe Popescu was one of the key players from the bright Romania team that was one of the most thrilling international sides to watch in the 1990s. The brother-in-law of fellow Romanian great Gheorghe Hagi, Popescu featured in several top European leagues, including Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga.

He only had one season in the Premier League but it was an impressive campaign in north London with Tottenham Hotspur. Plus, he will always have a positive spot in the hearts of Tottenham fans for scoring a winning goal in a North London Derby.

Before his Tottenham spell, Popescu had reached the semi-finals of the European Cup with Steaua Bucharest in 1988 at a time when Romanian clubs enjoyed greater success in European competition. He was signed by Sir Bobby Robson in 1990 for PSV Eindhoven and spent four years of largely qualified success in Dutch football.

After his excellent performances at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, he was signed by Tottenham’s flamboyant manager, Ossie Ardiles in September of that year for £2.9 million. Ardiles was known for his attacking flair and his lack of defending principles. However, Popescu’s signing was seen as a potential change in his thinking. His experience and tactical knowledge would see him operate mainly in a defensive midfield role, shielding central defenders Colin Calderwood and Sol Campbell.

On New Years’ Day 1995, Popescu scored the only goal as Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 at White Hart Lane. By now, Gerry Francis had succeeded Ardiles as manager and he helped maximise the potential of Popescu, who added another two further strikes as Tottenham finished seventh and above the Gunners in the table for the last time until the 2016-2017 campaign.

The lure of Barcelona though was too much for Popescu and he moved for £3 million in the summer of 1995 to replace the ageing Ronald Koeman in the team. He was reunited again with Robson, who made him his captain and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup double in 1997.

Deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal, Popescu’s next move was to Galatasaray. He spent four years in Istanbul, winning more trophies and the UEFA Cup in 2000, when Galatasaray defeated Arsenal in a penalty shootout. Further spells followed with Leece in Italy and an eight-game stint with Dinamo Bucharest in his homeland. He retired in 2003 after one season in the Bundesliga with Hannover 96.

He won the Romanian Footballer of the Year award six times and won over 100 international caps for his country.

However, in 2014, Popescu was sentenced to a three-year sentence in jail after being found guilty of tax evasion and money laundering in connection with the transfers of football players from Romania to other countries. At the time, he was the favourite to become the next president of the Romanian FA.

It was an unsavoury conclusion to a life in football which made him an idol in his home country and a key figure for some of Europe’s most senior clubs.

Great Goals: Thierry Henry – ARSENAL vs. Tottenham Hotspur (November 2002)

Voted as Goal of the Season by viewers of ITV’s ‘The Premiership’ during the 2002-2003 season, this was Thierry Henry at his absolute best as Tottenham couldn’t live with him in the North London Derby.

Just over 15 minutes had been played when Henry controlled the ball inside his own half and turned past Matthew Etherington. The Frenchman started running away from Etherington and burst past the centre circle. He had options in Dennis Bergkamp and Sylvain Wiltord but Henry only had one thing on his mind and that was to score.

Drifting away from Stephen Carr and Ledley King, Henry found the space to shoot and beat Kasey Keller to complete one of the greatest solo goals we’ve seen in this classic rivalry. He promptly completed his long-distance run with a long-distance celebration back to his own half to celebrate with the Gunners’ supporters.

Arsenal won 3-0 in a period when they were the class of north London.

Great Goals: Danny Rose – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. Arsenal (April 2010)

It is your Premier League debut and it happens to be against your local rivals. To add more spice to the mixture, it is a game your side probably has to win to still stand a realistic hope of qualifying for the Champions League. You must be full of nerves?  Not if you’re Danny Rose.

Nine minutes in and Tottenham win a corner. The ball is swept in and punched clear by Manuel Almunia, only into the path of Rose. The left-back connects sweetly with the dropping ball and launches a thunderous volley from 30-yards out that beats Almunia all-ends-up. There was disbelief even from Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. Rose was now in the history of this famous fixture.

Tottenham won 2-1 for their first league success against Arsenal since November 1999 and they would finish in the Premier League’s top four, helped heavily by this great impact from Rose.