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June 2021

Tottenham target equalling Arsenal’s league record by 2055.

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Yes it has been a big and important moment for Tottenham as they achieved the their dreams over the past 20+ years by finishing this season above Arsenal.   And Tottenham’s aim is now clear – to emulate and then overtake Arsenal in terms of the number of times they have finished above us.

But when will that be?   I thought it might be interesting to see how long that might take, and work out if I will be alive to see it.

The good news for Untold readers is that I almost certainly won’t be, so you won’t have to put up with me going on and on about it all the  way through.  Indeed by the time it happens I suspect we might not have an internet, either because we will have evolved something far smarter, or because the maniacs have finally won and there is no one left to read it.

But for younger readers with optimism, here is the schedule.

The first target must be to make sure that season’s momentous achievement for Tottenham in coming above Arsenal is repeated next year.  Now this might come as a bit of a shock, so you might want to sit down, but the last time Tottenham came above Arsenal two seasons running was…

1981/82 and 1982/3.  34 years ago!

So to start emulating Arsenal’s achievement during the Wengerian Period Tottenham have to do what they last did in 1981 to 1983, and do it again and again and again and….

For Arsenal 1996 was Year One of the run that has just ended making it 21 consecutive years. To emulate that Tottenham will have to come above Arsenal every year from 2017 (just achieved) until 2037.  Joe Lewis, the owner of Tottenham will then be 101 years old.  I am sure he will have a very happy birthday.

During this spell Tottenham need to catch up on one or two things as well if they wish to emulate Arsenal aside from coming above Arsenal two seasons running for the first time in 34 years.  For example, overall Arsenal have won the league the League 13 times, while Tottenham have won it twice, which means Tottenham will have to win it 12 times in this 21 year period to overtake Arsenal.  Not impossible of course, but quite a challenge.  They will have to win the FA Cup four times to catch up with us on that – but we won’t make that a condition.  This little piece is just about league positions.

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These aims are not impossible but of course Arsenal could cheat by winning the League a few times in those years – although of course Arsenal winning the league would also stop Tottenham’s run of 21 years of coming above Arsenal.

However while that run will balance out Arsenal’s achievement since 1995 (a season in which Arsenal managed to win just 13 games) it won’t quite balance out the number of times Arsenal have ended up above Tottenham in the league overall.

But working this out is difficult not just because I am not very good with numbers, but also because there is controversy about how we should count the years in which one of the clubs was in the second division.

For example in 1913/14 and 1914/15 Arsenal were in the second division and Tottenham the first – do they count as Tottenham ending up above Arsenal?  If yes then we should also count that spell of 13 years from 1928/9 onwards in which Tottenham enjoyed themselves in the lower tier while Arsenal were in the first – and the other spells there as well.  And just in case at this point anyone wants to bring up the issue of Arsenal’s and Tottenham’s election to the First Division and the League respectively, Arsenal’s election in 1919 is dealt with in full detail, with extracts from the records and newspaper articles of the time in one article and Tottenham’s election from the Southern League (also interesting) is dealt with in another.

However I will try and make sense of the ups and downs and give some sense of perspective before I go for my after-breakfast lie down.

Part One: Pre-First World War.   

Arsenal and Tottenham were only in the same division for four seasons.  Each club finished above the other twice.  Honours even.

Part Two: 1921-28

Arsenal finished ahead of Tottenham five times, and Tottenham came out on top three times.  This era was finished when Tottenham and Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the 1927/8 season.

Part Three: 1928 – until the outbreak of war

Tottenham spent 11 of the remaining years before WWII in the second division.  In their two seasons in the first division they came below Arsenal (being 3rd one season and 22nd the next).

Part Four: After the war to 1970.

This was Tottenham’s era, and very much the dark times for Arsenal.  After four more years in the second division Tottenham returned to the first in 1950/51 and immediately won the league for the first time.  This is interesting not just because it was their first win, but also because there was much talk in the press at the time of a shift in power, and celebrations at WHL were akin to those we saw yesterday at the thought of overcoming Arsenal in the league for the first time this century.

In the period 1951 to 1970 Tottenham certainly did outwit Arsenal coming higher than Arsenal 14 times while Arsenal could only end up above Tottenham six times.   During this era Tottenham won the league once more (their second and final triumph thus far), and despite the comparative poverty of their displays, Arsenal too only won the league once (although to be fair Arsenal also won the league in 1948 while Tottenham were in the second division).

Which is an interesting point – in Tottenham’s glory glory years from the second world war to 1970 they won the league twice – exactly the same as Arsenal.

Part Five: 1971 to 2017.

By my reckoning in the modern era Arsenal have come above Tottenham 36 times, while the reverse has happened 10 times.  There has also been one season with Tottenham in the second division.

So let’s try and total this, on this first morning since 1995 when Tottenham have finished above Arsenal.


By my reckoning, and I must admit I have done this having just woken up, so I may have got the odd number wrong somewhere, but in the seasons in which both clubs have been in the first division together Arsenal have come out ahead 59 times, and Tottenham have come out ahead 21 times – which I think helps explain the wild scenes at WHL yesterday.   To complete the picture, Arsenal spent 13 years in division 2, while Tottenham spent 12 in the Southern League and 18 in Division 2.

What this means is that if we take out the 30 years Tottenham spent in the Southern League and second division, and Arsenal’s 13 in the second division, and only consider the years in which both teams were in the top league together the tally means that Arsenal have come out ahead of Tottenham 38 times more than Tottenham have come out ahead of Arsenal.

Now that means, that if Tottenham do see yesterday’s victory as the start of a great and glorious new era, in which year after year they finish the league above Arsenal they will actually catch up with Arsenal in the year 2055.

During that spell of course Tottenham will need to win the league 11 times to emulate Arsenal on that score as well.

I suspect I won’t be around in 2055, and in fact I don’t really want to reach that sort of age with all the frailties that it brings, so I will leave it to someone else to write a commentary on the event.  But on this perhaps I may leave you with one thought.   For Arsenal, fourth has never been a trophy.  But for Tottenham, I rather suspect, coming ahead of Arsenal, no matter what the comparative league positions, very much is a trophy.  But first they have to come ahead of us two years running, for the first time since the 1980s.

And other matters


32 comments to Tottenham target equalling Arsenal’s league record by 2055.

  • Josif

    They should have named their day “The Halley’s Comet Day” given the frequency that phenomenon can be seen.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    St. Toldyouwewiilgetitrightoneday Day ?
    After all , they were right !

  • Leon

    They’ve revived the “Mind The Gap” slogan, which will take some maintaining, because it’s one we could troll them with.

  • Leon

    Two very good opinions on yesterday’s match and Arsenal’s current situation (I’ve read today) were ClockEndRider early this morning on the other thread, and Barney Ronay in The Guardian. Both well worth reading.

  • Pat

    ‘The manager can’t be arsed to prepare the team properly’.

    That’s what ClockEndRider said. Do you honestly agree with that opinion, Leon?

    I think it is pretty insulting to our most successful manager to make such an allegation. The record would suggest this is far from the case. I mean the record over 20 years, not the one blip of this season – where, by the way, we are still currently in the top six and in the final of the FA Cup.

  • Leon

    I said “two very good opinions……well worth reading”
    But, since you’ve asked I agree with both.

  • para


    If it had been pretty balanced, with Arsenal and Tots pendeling between their different pols, all would be cool.

    But the pendelum has swung Arsenal’s way for a long long time, and we know what inevitably happens, it swings the other way.

    So now Tots have the pendelum.

    It is only up to Arsenal to make sure that they do enough to make it swing their way again.

  • Jimbo

    If you take away the number of of times Kane,Alli,Min Song and Dembele have used simulation to obtain spot kicks the spuds would be about 9th in the league,work it out..

  • gouresh

    Is this article some sort of justification for finishing below Duds?

  • Leon


    I don’t know about justification. You can’t really justify that result.
    It’s spin. This is what Tony does for a living. He’s a PR pro., and does it very well.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Sunderland have been playing with relegation for year, and this year their luck ran out.

    Arsenal have been pushing hard to stay in top 4 (most years in 4th place) for a few years now, and after years of mediocracy, this year things have caught up with them. All of us are responsible for accepting this mediocrity in support/respect of the manager.

  • Sammy The Snake

    And may I add that AW deserves all our respects, but every good thing must come to an end.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I thought this article was to give a new name for this massive shift in power in North London.
    They had 21 years to come our with a name , but probably didn’t believe it themselves ; or may not be too bright to come up with one catchy enough , innit?
    So come on guys , your esteemed contributions please .

  • Leon, I write adverts, not PR.

  • Norman14

    I can see the headline now:

    “Spurs owner, Joe Lewis (101 today) shares a bottle of bubbly with Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger (105)”

  • Ken

    Ah that’s okay so, we’ll just stick with Mr Lord Almighty Wenger (amen) until 2054 and then reassess the situation. I mean there’s no need to do anything rash, everything is totally fine the way it is right now.

  • boogieman

    Aaaaah the depression descends and Tony will have to find a new club to promote. You did say you were Tottenham born so bring on your private wishlist.

  • Jammy J

    Ken – Nothing like a good old bit of hyperbole to completely misrepresent someones argument, aye?

  • Leon

    Sorry Tony. I thought you did PR also. You do a pretty good job of it with this blog

  • Boogieman – depression? No, that’s when the wife you love leaves and sends you a £3m bill for the pleasure of leaving you.

    I was born in Southgate, and lived in N17, but within a family that had actively supported Arsenal since its move to Highbury. Which means because of my advanced age, I can just about remember the Billy Wright era. But I think in football terms I have never experienced as much sadness in relation to Arsenal as I have done recently in seeing the ground of Rushden and Diamonds (the nearest ground that has hosted league football to where I live) being bulldozed. That was a great little club, it was the first ground I took my children to, and I loved to go there when there was no Arsenal game on. Seeing that go is real football sadness, but no, not depression.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I’m not sure why any Arsenal fan would want to read about our latest match. We lost and probably deserved to lose. However, I have never seen the need nor the worth of reading someone else’s speculations about why things didn’t work out. Especially, when they are wholeheartedly negative and devoid of balance. We have to admit that we have been outdone this year and get better. We don’t have to indulge in the self-flagellation promoted by the media.

  • Jojo

    @ Jimbo re:

    “If you take away the number of of times Kane,Alli,Min Song and Dembele have used simulation to obtain spot kicks the spuds would be about 9th in the league,work it out..”

    Care to show your work, exactly?

    And also since questionable calls/actions and calls for and against don’t happen in a vacuum but rather affect every team, the only way such analysis and its conclusions can be valid is showing how your methodology accounts for the interdependencies of similar situations affecting every single other club in the league and associated points and table position.

    It would also be very interesting to see how your methodology accounts for subjectivity and judgment/interpretation for every single similar incident for every club with consistency and without bias and then somehow feeding that into a workable formula/model to yield defensible statistics.

    I would be very interested to see how you reached this conclusion, or maybe there’s an algorithm for this?

  • timo

    Arsenal players on the rise
    get kicked out of the
    game. can someone do
    some digging why? It does
    not seem to happen to
    other teams more often.
    Am I missing something?
    Am talking about Cazorla,
    Walcott, Eduardo,
    Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby,
    Van Persie. A good patch
    is always damaged by
    taking out key player.
    looks funny doesn’t it?

  • Leon


    Didn’t you once say that you were a teacher or the like?
    Isn’t reading how people find out about things?
    Would somebody who didn’t actually see the game get all info from a biased blog?
    Does not the media have many expert football analysts?
    And if someone wants to beat themselves up over a game of football, commenting on UA is a much more self-flagellation worthy.
    I’ll read anything anyone wants to write and make my own mind up.
    This is not North Korea.

  • Jjgsol

    Kane is quoted as saying something like there was contact so I was entitled to go down. I take that as an admission that he dived.

    If every player who was touched in the box had such an entitlement and exercised it, there would be countless penalties in every game.

    A dive is a dive is a dive.

    Without it we would most probably have lost anyway although I daresay aw’s strategy was to hold them for the first half and attack them in the 2nd as we did last week.

  • omgarsenal

    Personally, I find all this soul-searching and lamenting of an end of an era the most depressing thing. We can look at this season as a one-off (my view) and that our best years are ahead, (also my view). This is a wonderful opportunity for those aaa and the media to bash AFC, regardless of the circumstances. The season is a disappointment to date but we have some interesting matches still ahead, the FA Cup final, the run-in for the 4th place ¨trophy¨, the prospect that the title can return to North London (albeit to the dark side), the possibility that we’ll see new faces next season, either from the youth and/or the transfer market to replace aging Gunners, etc. There is NO justification for gloom and doom….we are NOT facing relegation, we are NOT financially threatened, we are NOT being investigated for tax evasion or other crimes, we are NOT without options at all levels (stability, leadership, classiness, etc. are all firmly in place) and our future is bright….stop whining,moaning,crying, throwing your toys out of the pram…get behind the club and the manager as this website proclaims or bugger off to LeGrove with the rest of the bitches.

  • Jjgsol

    I agree with you entirely.

    If we cannot celebrate success this year let us enjoy the terrific memories of 21 great years.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Leon, to clarify…I am willing to read about my club and learn from others, however, I am also willing to exercise my judgement and reject the bias of the people writing and hence not read. Yes, I am a teacher and what one teaches pupils is to look for reputable sources. Wikipedia and the like are great organs of popular interest but they are looked at askance by academics because they are not properly refereed. Blogs, and papers out there have even less 3rd party review than Wikipedia. Much that is out there about my club and Arsene Wenger is so one sided as to defy reason. I saw the game and we lost…I think the score reflected the play of the teams. I do not need to listen or read a comment from a Spud, Manc or Scouser or hack journalist masquerading as an ‘expert’ delighting in our misfortune.

  • Jimbo

    The spuds are a cheating bunch of anti footballing half wits.Wenger plays the beautiful game without the cheating,diving,closing down rotational fouling garbage.spurs should be deducted points for their blatant diving which has seen them finish in a position that defies their true footballing ability..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    St.Flashinthepan Day ?

  • Menace

    Nice one Brickfields. No saints involved here.

    What took 21 years?
    Hotspud flashinthepan day.

    It’s happened again,
    It’s happened again,
    21 years later it’s happened again.

  • Gaz

    Nah, we’ll just call it Sunday.?