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Five memorable North London derbies between Arsenal and Tottenham

When Tottenham welcome archrival Arsenal to White Hart Lane on Saturday, it will be one of the most important North London derbies in history. Both teams are fighting for the Premier League title, with Tottenham second in the standings and Arsenal three points back in third place. With both teams coming off disappointing midweek losses, it's a chance to establish the upper hand in what promises to be a fascinating title race.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never finished below Tottenham in the standings, and probably must avoid a defeat to keep that streak alive.

While the stakes may never have been higher, the North London Derby has a long history of memorable games. Here is a look at five of them:

1. May 1971: Winning the league at White Hart Lane, Part 1

Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal

Arsenal clinched their first league title in 18 years in this game, a moment made even sweeter for the team by the fact that it came at White Hart Lane. The Gunners needed a win or a scoreless draw to clinch the championship, and Ray Kennedy ended any doubt when he headed in the only goal in the 88th minute. It may not have been one of the better North London derbies, but certainly one of the most important. Arsenal clinched the double five days later by beating Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

2. April 2004: Winning the league at White Hart Lane, Part 2

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

For the "Invincibles," what better place to cement their place in history than the home of their archrival? Wenger's unbeaten side only needed a draw to clinch the Premier League title with four games to spare, and were 2-0 up after 35 minutes through goals from Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires. Tottenham fought back for a 2-2 draw after Robbie Keane levelled with an injury-time penalty, but that mattered little. Arsenal achieved their two objectives: remaining unbeaten and giving fans another reason to sing "We won the league at White Hart Lane."

3. October 2008: Spurs' magical comeback, Part 1

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham

Tottenham's long winless streak away at Arsenal continued, but this result felt very much like a victory. Arsenal were 4-2 up with just minutes remaining before Jermaine Jenas curled in what seemed like a late consolation goal in the 89th minute. But Harry Redknapp's team weren't done, and launched one final attack in the dying moments of stoppage time. And when Luka Modric's long-distance strike deflected onto the post, Aaron Lennon was there to tap in the equaliser into an empty net.

4. November 2010: Spurs' magical comeback, Part 2

Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham

Tottenham had not beaten Arsenal away in 17 years entering this game, and that streak looked set to continue as the Gunners took a 2-0 lead at halftime, with Samir Nasri having scored the first from an impossible angle.

Younes Kaboul's late game-winning header in 2010 snapped Tottenham's 17-year road losing streak against the Gunners.
Younes Kaboul's late game-winning header in 2010 snapped Tottenham's 17-year road losing streak against the Gunners.

But whatever Redknapp told his team at halftime certainly worked. Gareth Bale started the comeback with a delightful finish and Cesc Fabregas then inexplicably stuck his arm up to stop a free kick, giving Rafael van der Vaart the chance to level from the penalty spot. With Arsenal shell-shocked, Younes Kaboul headed in the winner with four minutes left -- a goal that left an angry Wenger throwing his water bottle in disgust.

5. February 2012: Gunners' magical comeback

Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham

This time it was Arsenal's turn to claw back a 2-0 deficit, and in even more emphatic fashion. After Louis Saha's early goal for Tottenham, former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor made himself even less popular with the Gunner fans by doubling the visitors' lead with a penalty. But Wenger's men were level by halftime as Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie netted shortly before the break, and Tomas Rosicky put them ahead for good in the 51st minute. Theo Walcott, who had struggled in the first half, added two quick goals for a 5-2 win -- a scoreline that Arsenal repeated at the Emirates the following season.


Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


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