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Are Tottenham now the dominant force in north London football? If not, what does it take?

By Tony Attwood

“It is not just Tottenham that struggle to compete with the big sides away from home. We need many things – we need to win trophies, we need to build the new stadium, we need to build a good squad, we need to play young players.”

Thus sayeth the Tottenham manager in the aftermath of the game at the Ems yesterday and I thought it represented quite a turn around from the talk of the previous week in which a number of journalists and bloggers, not to mention TV pundits, were speaking about the balance of power in north London having shifted.

I thought of this as I was also struck by the singing at the Ems yesterday – something that was clearly sanitised out of Match of the Day (I can’t speak for the live broadcast because I was at the game and thus didn’t see it).  Of course last season we couldn’t sing that amusing little ditty, “It’s happened again” (one of my personal favourites, in my childish little way), but at least this season we can use the same melody with “You’ll always be….”   Very childish indeed, and extraordinarily funny for those of us who don’t mind behaving childishly sometimes.

It is also rather nice as a season ticket holder to have this home run going on.  Here is the league table of home matches…

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 6 6 0 0 19 1 18 18
2 Arsenal 6 6 0 0 15 4 11 18
3 Manchester City 6 5 1 0 24 4 20 16
4 Liverpool 6 4 2 0 12 1 11 14
5 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 2 1 8 4 4 11

We can also add five at the end of last season too.

Still, Tottenham are still above us in the league, as they were at the end of last season, but I am not sure this is enough for us to think about a change in the balance of power.  However if that is the case, I began to wonder, over a glass of a rather enjoyable (and moderately priced) Chilean Merlot, what would signify a change in the balance of power.

Certainly one year of coming above Arsenal in the league surely isn’t enough.  And nor (in my view) would be two such years.

If we look back in history we might note that in 1958/9 Arsenal came third in the first division, and Tottenham just missed out on relegation.  But the next season Tottenham came third and Arsenal tumbled down the league. No dominance either way.

However the following season 1960/61 Tottenham won the league and cup double.  Then they came third and won the FA Cup again.  The following year they came second.  Another cup win in 1967 and in all, twelve years of ending up above Arsenal.   That was dominance.  In a 20 year period from 1951, Tottenham came above Arsenal 14 times.

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But now, with one season above Arsenal, I don’t think that’s enough evidence.  And indeed it is interesting to hear some pundits, after just one game, change their view and suggest that Tottenham need to win some trophies to prove they are outplaying Arsenal.

So I thought it might be interesting to ponder how many trophies they might have to win and how many they have won…

The top division: Tottenham have won it twice, in 1951 and 1961.  Arsenal have won it 13 times.  That is quite a gap to make up.   If Tottenham won it every year from now on they would have to keep winning it until 2028 to catch our record.

Of course to be fair we should say that Tottenham have won the second division twice, which Arsenal have never done, so they do win on that score.  (We were runners up once).

But what of the FA Cup?   Tottenham have won that eight times, most recently in 1991.  They are the third most successful team in the FA – quite an achievement.   However we have won it 13 times.  If Tottenham went on a winning streak, they could catch us up in 2022.

They have however won the cup in successive seasons, as Arsenal have done, but they’ve not yet managed a “three wins in four years” run as Arsenal have done twice.

However there are areas where Tottenham do outshine us.   They have won the League Cup four times, to Arsenal’s twice so we could do with improving that.  With a following wind and the tide with us we could reach their total in 2019.

And they have outdone us on European trophies too.  They won the Cup Winners’ Cup once (same as us) and the Uefa Cup twice (we’ve done it once).  So a win of the Europa this year would equal things out on that score.

But perhaps there are some other ways to measure this?   I mentioned above that Tottenham have won the Double of the FA Cup and League (we’ve done it three times).  They did that in 1961 while Arsenal were having a miserable time languishing in mid table.  And this really makes my point.  Tottenham, as I have suggested, kept coming above us and it wasn’t until 1968/9 that matters were reversed when Arsenal came fourth.

But no one talked then about Arsenal replacing Tottenham as the dominant force in north London.  It took the Fairs Cup win of 1970 and the League and Cup double of 1971 and four more years of finishing the season above Tottenham for people to begin to think of Arsenal as the dominant team locally.

Three major trophies and five years of coming above the local rivals – that is what it took in the 70s, and that seems a fair run to consider when talking of dominance.

Arsenal have clearly been the dominant team, coming above Tottenham from 1994/5 until last season, while Tottenham won the League Cup twice.  During that time Arsenal won the league three times and the FA Cup seven times.  That, for me at least, is dominance.

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11 comments to Are Tottenham now the dominant force in north London football? If not, what does it take?

  • jw1

    Even all the way over here? In the southwestern US?
    I could sense a huge ‘Power Sh^t’ occurring in North London– right about noon your time.

    And though it might have been the most complete game of football played by Arsenal in several seasons?
    The NBCSN studio-bots stayed on note– stating how performances such as this must be frustrating the club’s fans.
    Au contraire Rebecca & the Two Robbies! It only confuses and frustrates your producers.
    Producers who decided to (‘Oh just go ahead with it’) and run that desultory 2-minute segment with Ian Wright on Match Of The Day (right at the break at half)– that only made sense if Arsenal had lost to the Spuds.

    So I do see how frustrating it is– when a media narrative is so completely stomped into shards.

    So then, back to the point.
    There was a definite ‘Power Sh^t’ in North London yesterday– and Spuds have taken it with both hands.


  • Pat

    Yes, Tony, exactly!

  • Gord

    Yet another one of those most wonderful managers had a debut today; David Moyes at State Aid United.

    They lost, 0-2.

    Shots on target 7:5
    _ off target 8:3
    Possession 59:41
    Corners 3:1
    Offsides 0:2
    Fouls 12:10
    Yellows 1:4
    Goal kicks 4:8
    Treatments 5:2

    As Arsenal wasn’t involved, nor any of the “top 6”, there is seemingly no reason for the officials to be too bent.

    So, Moyes has been working with his team, and they were so into this game, they attempted half the shots their opposition did. Hmm, how do you win games if you don’t shoot? The home team had half again as much possession. How do you win without possession? Corners sort of indicate a willingness to attack in the final 1/3, the home team had 3:1 on corners? How do you win games if you don’t attack in the final third? The fouls are about even; but State Aid got most of the yellows and the home team got most of the treatments.

    All of this indicates to me, that David Moyes spent all his preparation time for this game trying to convince his team to kick the shit out of the other team, and he got caught for it. you don’t win games if the only things your players kick, is the opposition.

    I’m sure glad he didn’t become Arsenal manager.


    There has been mentions of merlot in this, and some previous articles. Some British website from some time I didn’t note, had a list of good merlot. Two entries form Chile (out of 12).

    [ Note: I only cut and paste a couple of items, so diacritical marks are likely missing in lots of places. ]

    1. Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2015, 13.5% Chile
    9. Kintu Merlot 2015, 12.5% Chile

    Santa Rita Winery is (was?) an Arsenal partner from Alto Jahuel, Chile.
    (45 minutes south of Santiago)
    Casa Real – Cabernet Sauvignon
    Bougainville – Cabernet Sauvignon
    Pehuén – Carménère
    Tripe C – Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère
    Floresta – comes as Cabnernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot or Cabernet Franc.
    Medalla Real – many, including Merlot
    Reserva – many, including Merlot
    Secret Reserve – (blend sometimes) which includes Merlot.
    120 – Many, including Merlot

    They have recieved many awards, not too many appear to be Merlot related.

    I noticed that Chardonnay (sp?) isn’t something they produce, and that is what my Mom prefers.

    I’ve been making mostly mead, some cider, some cider vinegar and some wine lately (almost 1 year). I like that ceramic, swing top bottles. Grolsch now has in BC, a 1.5 litre bottle of beer. That is a good size for a beer.

    My dictionary doesn’t recognize Grolsch, it is suggesting Grouch (as in Oscar the Grouch). 🙂

  • para


    Nice beer, enjoyed it in my youth when i was in Europe.
    Also enjoyed wine(Merlot especially), but not anymore.

    What passes for wine today is just not…..
    At least that’s what my taste buds tell me.

  • Gord


    Mostly of late I’ve been making mead (wine with honey as the sugar source). I think cider is designed to drink fresh, some meads can also be drunk fresh. This spring, I made a mead from commercial (frozen) raspberry, blueberry, blackberry and strawberry, to which I added saskatoon (aka serviceberry) from the farm, which I had frozen as well. It made a wonderful drink as fresh, and was probably in the 16% EtOH ballpark (so quite strong). I’m almost finished another batch, which has elderberry, sweet cherries and sour cherries as well.

    Earlier this year I made a “port”. I made a raspberry wine, and I made a mead from raspberry blossum honey. And I blended them with everclear (95% EtOH) to get to about 20% EtOH. Now I just have to wait 20 years to drink it. 🙂

  • Gord

    Is there a need for a derby to be scrappy? Is there a need for officials to let a derby be scrappy? Do fans at the game demand a derby to be scrappy?

    Well, first off what is scrappy?

    Before we answer that, let’s look at some football violence amongst fans. If fans from teams A and B meet before (or after, or during) a game, do they have to try and beat the crap out of each other?

    Okay, let’s go back to our derby. Is there a need for two teams that are in some sense neighbours, to kick each other (which is illegal) more because it is a derby, than an ordinary game?

    The only reason that a derby can be more scrappy (involve more violence outside of the laws), is because the referees allow it. If the referee tells both teams before the game that there will not be any gratuitous violence and 2 minutes into the game a hard tackle comes in and a yellow card is flashed, it is very likely that the rest of the game will see no gratuitous violence.

    Are the fans likely to leave because of this? I don’t think so.

    The scrappiness of derbys is strictly because referees WANT the games to be scrappy. It is not something demanded by either team or the fans.

  • Sam Sayyed

    “The scrappiness of derbys is strictly because referees WANT the games to be scrappy. It is not something demanded by either team or the fans.”

    That comes back to the point I have previously made in my comments on this site before.

    Its not only limited to derbies or to the referees, its Premier League as an organsiation which in cahoots with the PGMOL who try to promote this league as the “best league in the world”. In reality, what they mean is entertaining” rather than “best”. This is the reason why refs have been having such increasingly undue influence in the game. This is why they are against the implementation of Video assisted refereeing.

    I had run some analysis before, and the number of penalties and fouls awarded etc have all increased drastically under Mike Riley. We all know from the work on this website that this is accompanied by without any corresponding increase in accuracy of decisions. How does the Premier League allow Riley to keep his job when he cannot develop a pool of sufficient referees and the standards are continuously slipping? It is so that they can tilt the field to make the league more unpredictable and entertaining (alas in the WWE stlye).


    It is a contest again . I can not say Spurs are the dominant force in NLD having finished once above Arsenal in 21 season . At least there is a battle again . First time for an age the fans at Arsenal were what I call really fired up for a NLD . The know Spurs are again viable and although they would hate to admit it worthy opponents again . I still feel Arsenal have more depth in their sqaud and more likely to win a domestic Cup than Spurs . If you look at the teams fielded by Arsenal in EL and League Cup there are players like Walcott , Wilshire etc etc . Spurs can not take liberties they can not make wholesale changes and perform as Wycombe in the FA Cup last season proved . For me it is good that there is a contest again . Neither in my opinion will win the PL title while City , Chelsea , Utd have cart loads of money that they spend willy nilly . For Arsenal there is still the question are Cups enough and Spurs can they compete for the top 4 and win a Cup at the same time ?

  • Polo

    Totally agree with you Sam, I too think the PL via PGMO manipulate decisions to make the match more exciting and controversial. I suspect Burnley will get a lot of decisions going their way next match.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Two of my pupils came in today…”Anyone can buy a ref…”

    The Tottenham narrative is that both goals were way offside. I can give them the first but not the second and that ignores the silly foul that Dean called on Oezil when he was in alone on Vertonghen with Lacazette. Schrodinger Oezil…apparently lazy, weak and unmotivated but at the same time pushy, scrappy and a bully.

    And don’t get me started on the yellows.

  • Menace

    The reality is that Arsenal are much better than the table puts them. The PGMOL are the deciding factor. They corrupt the sporting truth & fcuk the points that Arsenal would get with honest officiating.

    Why do we have this racist organisation setting their standards when in every team there are several foreign players? The PGMOL is made up of so called select English officials while the EU have an open policy & workers, managers & all sorts are represented in our society (only in the PGMOL are the officials in an apartheid regime). Even the Bank of England has a Canadian; where is our Canadian, Polish, African, Indian, German or West Indian referee?

    FFS we have such a blatant abuse of cultural selectivity it makes every corrupt political country look honest.