Tag Archives: North London Derby

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.

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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.