Warning for Tottenham ahead of North London Derby - the year ends in a nine

Warning for Tottenham ahead of North London Derby - the year ends in a nine

The song lyrics famously remind us that Spurs always win when the year ends in one but, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side face their north London derby rivals at the Emirates this weekend, Arsenal’s lucky nine could carry just as much weight.

“When the Year Ends in One,” of course, was a Tottenham hit record released with pop duo Chas & Dave to celebrate reaching the 1991 FA Cup Final. It proved prophetic as Spurs beat Nottingham Forest to lift the trophy, having already won the Football League in 1951 and 1961, the FA Cup in 1901, 1921, 1961 and 1981 - and the League Cup in 1971.

Since then, however, ‘the one’ has proved rather more elusive. Spurs have recovered superbly from being perennial underdogs in the Wenger years (not to mention the one-nil to the Arsenal era) to leave the balance in north London even at last. But a victory at the home of their rivals remains as rare as silverware - there have only been two in the Premier League since it was formed in 1992-3.

So, if Arsenal fans are looking for omens at the Emirates today then they may well take comfort from an intriguing stat myth of their own.

Maybe the number nine doesn’t carry the same weight for the red half of North London as Tottenham’s lucky ‘one’ but it has, nevertheless, been spookily influential in their history. Enough, anyway, for Arsenal fans to be feeling an extra burst of confidence ahead of Sunday’s big game.

Here’s our guide to Arsenal’s lucky nine over the years, starting in the days when they were still Woolwich Arsenal and playing south of the river…

  • Woolwich Arsenal won their opening two home games in a rivalry against Spurs 2-1 before it was even a ‘north’ London derby - the first came on the 9th of November 1896, the second in 1899
  • The first league game between the sides was in 1909 when the Gunners won 1-0 with a goal from Walter Lawrence.
  • Arsenal were voted into the top division in 1919 (at the expense of Spurs who had been relegated and had hoped to earn a reprieve when the division was increased by two teams). The Gunners have never been relegated since - and Spurs have never forgiven them. There were even accusations of underhand tactics by Arsenal chairman Henry Norris at the time, although never proven..
  • Arsenal have lost only one home north London derby played in a year ending in 9.
  • No side has ever won three North London derbies in a row in the Premier League – but Arsenal last managed it in the Football League between 1998-99
  • Arsenal won a legendary league title at Anfield in 1989 in the 91st minute through Michael Thomas’s last-gasp winner. Number nine Alan Smith also scored that day, of course...
  • The Gunners famously went 49 games unbeaten under Arsene Wenger
  • Arsenal’s Invincibles won the league that year, 2004, without losing a single game - and they set up the opportunity for the record with a 1-0 victory over Fulham in the penultimate match of the season on the 9th of May with a goal from number nine Jose Antonio Reyes - in the ninth minute. It was their 39th match in a row without losing.
  • That season Arsenal beat Spurs 2-1 in the derby with goals in the 69th and 79th minutes
  • The Invincibles finished that legendary campaign with 90 points
  • Convinced? Well, this weekend’s fixture at the Emirates is also the 199th north London derby – and the 19th to be played in a year ending in nine. Oh, and it takes place on 1.9.19.

    That’s got to be a sign, and fate says it should be Arsenal who benefit. After all, the last time that date was mirrored – on September 1, 1919 – the Gunners won 3-2 at Liverpool in their first year in the Football League.

    Tottenham fans need not despair, however. Their side won 4-0 against Leicester the same day (in a season in which their side went on to win the Second Division). So if you’re looking for omens, striker Jimmy Cantrell was the two-goal hero that day – and Tottenham’s current number nine Harry Kane has scored nine times against Arsenal in the Premier League era so far.

    Oh, and guess when was the last time Tottenham managed to win in the league at Arsenal in a year ending in nine? It was 1969, 50 years ago. In September.

    Make you own minds up. Someone is going to get lucky at the Emirates, that’s for sure…

    STATS

    North London Derby results in years ending in ‘nine’

      2019: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1
      2009: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0
      2009: Spurs 0 Arsenal 0
      1999: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1
      1999: Spurs 2 Arsenal 1
      1989: Arsenal 2 Spurs 0
      1989: Spurs 2 Arsenal 1
      1979: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0
      1979: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0
      1969: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0
      1969: Arsenal 2 Spurs 3
      1959: Arsenal 1 Spurs 1
      1959: Spurs 1 Arsenal 4
      1949: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0 FA Cup
      1939: Arsenal 2 Spurs 1 (Football League South A Division)
      1909: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0 - first league game
      1899: Spurs 3 Arsenal 2
      1899: Arsenal 2 Spurs 1

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