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Know Your Premier League Enemies: (North) London Calling

In this edition of Know Your Enemies, we look at two North London clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Their rivalry is among the biggest in top flight English football, and their results will directly impact Liverpool's final standing on the table.

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We were reminded, perhaps too well, last season by Alexis Sanchez that Liverpool is not London. For centuries, London was the beating heart of the British Empire. Its name rightfully belongs in the same breath as Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and New York. Merely saying "London" brings to mind Buckingham Palace, Parliament, and world-class theater, museums, and shopping.

It is somewhat surprising then, that England's footballing soul continues to be fought over largely in the Northwest. This is not to say London doesn't care about football, merely an observation that London teams are less successful historically.

So, in today's lesson, we'll take a look at a duo of North London teams we'll face off with this season: Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.


Perhaps Arsenal were destined to become the most successful London club, if only because they were the first to be admitted into the Football League in 1893, seven years after their founding.

As is the case with many clubs, Arsenal went through several name changes in the yearly years. They started as Dial Square, and then quickly changed to Royal Arsenal, reflecting their founding by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. Upon joining the Football League, they took up the name Woolwich Arsenal. The club found themselves in financial troubles, and the owners sought to move the club to North London. The Gunners completed the move in 1913 to their home of almost a century: Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. The club dropped Woolwich from their name, become the Arsenal we know today.

Arsenal spent most of their early years outside the top flight, but were promoted following the 1914-15 season.  However, the Gunners would have to wait until 1919-20 to enjoy first division football, as a little something called World War I was getting in the way. Since that first post-war season, Arsenal haven't looked back, becoming a mainstay in the top flight ever since.

The bright red shirts with white sleeves have become Arsenal's iconic home kits, but this design did not appear until 1933. Prior to this redesign, their shirts were a darker shade of red, and the sleeves matched the rest of the shirt. In their last year at Highbury, the club paid tribute to these earlier kits—one of only two seasons since 1933 to break with the now-traditional red with white sleeves design.

Unlike the relatively stable home kit, Arsenal's crest has deviated wildly over the years. The crest has had up to three canons, and the canons have at different times faced north, west, and east (or as I prefer to think of it: up, left, and right). For decades the club struggled to create a crest that was copyrightable, finally succeeding as recently as 2002 (although the new design seemed to cause a great deal of consternation among supporters).

Arsenal has 13 top flight titles, third most behind only Manchester United and Liverpool, their last success coming in 2003-04 in their "invincible" season where finished the league campaign unbeaten. The Gunners also claim the most FA Cup victories with 12, equaling and surpassing United over the last two seasons. Despite their domestic success, Arsenal have yet to achieve Continental success, having only appeared in one Champions League final, losing to Barcelona in 2006.

Liverpool will travel south to meet Arsenal on August 29, and host the Gunners January 16.

Tottenham Hotspur FC

Tottenham first formed as Hotspur F.C. in 1882, allegedly named after Harry Hotspur. The Spurs did not appear in the Football League until 1908. However, in 1901 the club achieved its first major honor in extraordinary fashion, becoming the first—and likely only—club to win the FA Cup from outside the Football League.

Tottenham have enjoyed long stretches in England's top flight since the end of World War II, having only two brief stints in the second division from 1946-50, and again in 1978-79.

Like Everton, Tottenham sport a latin motto, "Audere est Facere" or "To dare is to do." Now, what they are daring to do, I haven't the foggiest idea. The crest displayed this motto from 1956-2005, but it has recently been ditched. In 2006, the club reverted to a greatly simplified cockerel standing on an old football with "Tottenham Hotspur" inscribed below. On first glance, the rooster might seem inoffensive, but the bird sports spurs on its legs for that wonderful sport of cockfighting. So there's that.

Tottenham's famous, if boring, lilywhite shirt and dark blue short combination first came into use by the end of the 19th century, and is thought to have been an homage to Preston North End.

Although the football universe would tend to stick the Spurs squarely behind Arsenal in London pecking order, Tottenham have enjoyed European success where the Gunners have not. Indeed, the Spurs are the first British club to win a European competition, in this case the 1963 European Cup Winner's Cup. The Spurs would also win the inaugural UEFA Cup in 1972, and again in 1984.

Spurs have two top-flight titles to their name, in 1950-51, and a decade later in 1960-61. They also have the third most FA Cup triumphs with 8, most recently in 1990-91.

In the last 2 years, Liverpool have outscored Spurs 15-2. We resume hostilities again at White Hart Lane on October 24, with the reverse fixture on April 9.

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