Theo Walcott was on a stretcher, whisked away by two medics at the Emirates Stadium. Carried around the end of the pitch in front of a section of Spurs supporters, it was the end of the young Arsenal man’s season.
A later diagnosed cruciate ligament injury would end his dream of playing in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Despite the apparent pain and concerns of the future, Walcott managed to mischievously smile at the Tottenham fans with two fingers with one hand with a zero shape with the other.
Arsenal were beating Tottenham 2-0 in the FA Cup. Despite Walcott’s obvious discomfort, his mind was on winding up the old enemy. It worked. Thrown in their direction were coins and other objects. It was a tragic irony for Tottenham because the two medics were Spurs fans.
The damage concluded at full time with Arsenal progressing. Walcott’s season had ended, but Tottenham’s FA Cup run had come to a tumultuous end too.
The North London derby is always a fight to the death for two hungry football clubs. It was not a derby until 1913 when Arsenal moved to north London, from their original home of Woolwich. Following recent stadium moves for both clubs, only four miles separate the Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in Islington and Tottenham’s stadium in the neighbouring borough of Haringey.
Despite the animosity between both clubs, it is Arsenal with a recent history of success. Three-time Premier League winners, Arsenal, were hugely successful under Arsene Wenger at the turn of the millennium.
The pre-Wenger era also saw the Gunners win ten league titles. It is though the FA Cup which is Arsenal’s greatest success. A record thirteen-time winners in their existence and seven during Wenger’s reign. On the continent, Arsenal won the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners Cup and were finalists in the 2006 UEFA Champions League.
Their rival, Tottenham, have won trophies in the past but are often ridiculed for their lack of recent success. Tottenham’s last trophy competitive prize was the 2008 League Cup, but they have not won the league since 1961.
Despite playing some of their best football under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham was unable to beat Liverpool in the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final. It could have given Tottenham the upper hand, but instead, their woes in Madrid are always a reminder.
For the players on the field, both teams are distinctly loyal to their clubs. However, moves between the two have happened. Emmanuel Adebayor remains one of a few to play for both clubs. He has scored for both clubs in this particular fixture.
The Togolese forward scored eight times for Arsenal and twice for Tottenham. Harry Kane has scored ten as well – but holds the Premier League record as all of his were scored in the league, while Adebayor netted two in cup competitions.
Kane has become a flashing beacon of light for Tottenham, in a side that has grown from strength to strength over recent seasons. A team led at the back by a World Cup-winning captain – there is an air of mystery as to why Tottenham have been unable to produce the goods and win their first Premier League title.
With Pochettino and Unai Emery departing, there is fresh optimism for both clubs, now under the management of Jose Mourinho and Mikel Arteta. They arrive with both clubs struggling to qualify for Europe this season; it will make their next meeting all the more tense and pivotal.
If and when the season resumes, it will be a landmark occasion; the 200th match between both sides. A critical game for a derby that has had its fair share of shocks and surprises over the decades. This match could be the most important yet.
Today is dedicated to the North London Derby on HD 11. Watch all of the action on HD 11.