In England football is more than a sport, it’s a religion. Millions of pounds are paid by top clubs for top players. Generations of fans show allegiance to the same clubs with an ardour that’s seldom seen in what is usually a conservative country.
Although all competitions in all the leagues are hotly contested, there are age-old rivalries that are as intense today as they were hundreds of years ago. None are more powerful, passionate and pervasive than Arsenal versus Tottenham Hotspurs and Newcastle versus Sunderland.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspurs
Location is the key to one of the fiercest football rivalries of all time. The centuries old competition between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs basically got underway when the Gunners invaded North London in 1906 to set up shop.
Since then matches between the two London clubs have been intense to say the least.
What’s the count in terms of games won and games lost? As of September 2019 - when the clubs drew 2-2 at the Emirates - there has been 186 fiercely fought North London derbies; both on the field of play and in the stands. Arsenal has bagged 77 wins; Spurs 58 and 51 games have ended in a draw.
In one of their standout performances, the all-time underdogs beat Arsenal 3-1 in the semi-final of the 1990-91 FA Cup, thanks to goals by Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.
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It was the first time the two had met in the FA Cup semi-final and the penultimate hurdle to Spurs lifting their eight Cup overall.
Right now, Arsenal is 6th
on the league table, eight spots above Spurs. Overall the Gunners are the superior team - by far- in terms of league titles.
Arsenal has ended the season at the top of the league 13 times. Spurs on the other hand has had to make do with only two Premiership titles.
Who are the all-time top scorers in North London Derbies? Bobby Smith and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspurs and striker Emmanuel Adebayor - a man who played for both clubs - have 10 goals apiece.
Newcastle vs. Sunderland
The rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland is much more than rivalry - it’s no-holds-barred hostility. This time it is much more than geography and football that has created a gaping chasm between the North East England cities
According to historians the animosity between the two dates back to Roman times. However, it was during the English Civil War that political allegiances drove a wedge between Tyne- and Wearsiders, a wedge that is still to be breached 180 years on.
Newcastle and Sunderland are located just 19 kilometres apart. Despite the proximity it’s a case of ‘never the twain shall meet’. In recent years football fans from the respective clubs have fought running battles in the streets. On the field game statistics could not be closer.
Of the 156 matches contested between the Magpies and the Black Cats, 50 have ended in a draw. The rest of have been evenly distributed at 53 wins apiece.
The last time the teams faced off in the Premier League the match ended in a 1-1 draw. That was back in March 2016. Since then Sunderland has been out of the top flight, a situation that must please the Tynesiders no end.
What are the respective clubs’ overall achievements? Sunderland has won six league titles, two FA Cups and a Community Shield. Newcastle has bagged four Premier Leagues, six FA Cups and the Community Shied.
Historically there is the slimmest of margins separating the two football clubs. Psychologically and emotionally, it is World War III!
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