This weekend sees the second North London derby of the season – one of the biggest derbies in English football – between Tottenham and Arsenal. In this report we feature five important things about the North London derby. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

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Tottenham were founded in 1882 by members of the Hotspur cricket club while Arsenal were established in 1886 by workers of the Woolwich arms factory in south London. The first official league match between the two sides took place in 1909 with Arsenal winning 1-0. However, the rivalry really started when Arsenal moved north of the river to a location only a few miles from Tottenham’s home in 1913 and the first north London derby took place in 1921 and this time Tottenham ran out winners 2-1.


When it comes to winning trophies, Arsenal have had more success than their rivals. The Gunners have amassed 13 league titles, 10 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, as well as the European Cup Winners up and the Fairs Cup – a forerunner of the Europa League. Spurs have won the league title twice – the last time in 1961 – and the FA Cup on eight occasions, while they have also lifted the League Cup four times. They have also tasted success in Europe: winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1963 (becoming the first English side to win a European trophy) and then winning the UEFA Cup in 1972 and then again in 1984. Interestingly, both clubs have also won the double – winning the League and the Cup in the same season – with Spurs doing so in 1961 and Arsenal in 1971 and then again in 1998 and 2002.


Who would be in an all-time Arsenal/Spurs starting XI? Pat Jennings could be the keeper as he managed to successfully play for both sides and yes, for the very same reason centre half could be Sol Campbell but instead we will choose double-winning captain Danny Blanchflower. Joining the Irish captain Blanchflower would be former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams with Tottenham’s all-time record appearance holder Steve Perryman playing at full back alongside current Spurs star Gareth Bale. In midfield Glenn Hoddle and Liam Brady would definitely start and they could be joined by any one of Paul Gascoigne, Dave Mackay, Patrick Viera, Osvaldo Ardiles or Robert Pires. Up front? Denis Bergkamp would surely play, while it would be difficult to argue against Jimmy Greaves and Thierry Henry as the two main strikers though of course fans of Ian Wright, Steve Archibald, Alan Smith, Martin Chivers and Charlie George just might do so.


Perhaps the first ever super manager in the game was Arsenal’s Herbert Chapman who took over the club in the 1920s after winning titles with Huddersfield he repeated the feat with Arsenal in the early 1930s. But Chapman is not Arsenal’s most successful coach. That honour belongs to current manager Arsène Wenger who joined the club in 1996 and went on to oversee three league titles and four FA Cup victories as well as European success. Tottenham’s most successful manager is Bill Nicholson who was in charge of the club in the 1960s when Spurs were a force in the game and Nicholson won the double in 1961 with a style of play that was both exciting and successful.

The Rivalry

It may not have the religious rivalry of Celtic vs Rangers or have affected the league as much as the Manchester or Merseyside derbies but the North London derby is every bit as fierce. It is the one derby where goals almost always feature as both teams go all out for victory as they hope to maintain bragging rights in the northern part of the capital.

Vocabulary support

  • were founded: Began as a club
  • arms factory: A company making weapons
  • ran out winners: Won the game
  • have amassed: Have won; have collected
  • a forerunner: Something that comes before
  • to oversee: To be in charge of
  • tasted success: Enjoyed success; won something
  • go all out for victory: Really try to win
  • bragging rights: Being able to boast; to feel good as your team has won
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Learn English Through Football

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2012-13Episode 335