Sunday, November 6, 2016

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: The Defining Moments, Part IV: 1988-2004

Sol Campbell and two of his closest friends.

March 6, 1988: Arsenal win 2-1 at The Lane. Four of Spurs' last five goals against Arsenal had now been scored by Clive Allen.

September 10, 1988: A rare early-season Derby is played at The Lane. Arsenal win 3-2, but the most interesting occurrence of the game comes late and in Tottenham's favor (or "favour" as they'd spell it). Paul Gascoigne, the Gateshead native who'd starred for his "hometown" club Newcastle United (there is a Gateshead United), had chosen Tottenham over Manchester United, and in his first North London Derby appearance, charged the Arsenal net, and his right shoe came off. With only a white sock, "Gazza" sent the ball past Arsenal goalie John Lukic. "One shoe! He's only got one shoe!"

January 2, 1989: Gazza was injured for the return fixture, and while Arsenal weren't great, Spurs had nothing. Arsenal won 2-0, with Michael Thomas sealing the points late. This would foreshadow Thomas' goal in stoppage time in the last game of the season, away to Liverpool, that allowed Arsenal to beat Liverpool on tiebreakers and claim their first League title in 18 years. Tottenham had now been 28 years without a League title.

April 14, 1991: The FA Cup Semifinal is a North London Derby, and as Semifinals are always held at neutral sites -- both Highbury and White Hart Lane had previously hosted them, as had Aston Villa's Villa Park, Manchester City's Maine Road and Manchester United's Old Trafford -- the Semifinal is played at Wembley for the 1st time, attracting a crowd of 77,893, the biggest crowd a North London Derby has ever brought, and is ever likely to bring -- unless the clubs end up facing each other in another Semifinal or Final at the new Wembley with its 90,000 capacity.

This match is best remembered for Gascoigne's goal from a free kick, past Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. Gary Lineker added 2 goals, and Spurs win, 3-1. Although Arsenal would go on to win the League again, Spurs would win the FA Cup by beating Nottingham Forest, and thus could claim, however lamely, that they were again "the Pride of North London."

But the Final would be overshadowed by one of the dumbest plays any footballer has ever made. Early in the game, Gascoigne, a raging alcoholic, a wife-beater, and an unrestrained party animal, but one of the most talented players of his generation, jumped and kicked Forest midfielder Garry Parker in the chest. Incredibly, he was let off with only a warning, not even a yellow card for what should have been a straight red-card offense.

But in the 14th minute, he laid a nasty tackle on Forest right back Gary Charles -- that's right, a midfielder doing that to a defender, not the other way around -- and, again, did not receive a card of either kind. But, in so doing, he wrecked his knee, and had to come off in the 17th minute. Spurs won, 2-1, when Forest's Des Walker scored an own goal in extra time.

This would be the last major match for Brian Clough, the Forest manager who'd led Forest to the League Cup earlier in the season, and to the 1978 League title and the 1979 and '80 European Cups. Before that, he led Forest's rivals, Derby County, to the 1972 League title and the Semifinal of the 1973 European Cup. Oddly, the FA Cup is a trophy that he never won, with any club: This was the closest he came. (Derby won it in 1946, Forest in 1898 and 1959, in each case long before Cloughie got there.)

This has also been Spurs' last visit to the FA Cup Final. They have never lost a Final, going 8-0. But they would lose Semifinals in 1993 (ignominiously, due to their opponent, as you'll see), 2001 (ditto), and 2010 (not the same opponent, but perhaps the most ignominious defeat of all). Since that 1991 FA Cup Final, they have been in only 3 cup finals in total, all in the League Cup, going 2-2 (winning in 1999 and 2008, and losing in 2009 and 2015). No FA Cup, no UEFA Cup/Europa League, certainly no Champions League. Not even the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup and Intertoto Cup.

What was not widely known during that 1991 Final was that Spurs were losing money like crazy, and had already agreed to sell Gascoigne to Lazio of Rome. Due to his knee injury, it would be over a year before he would make his 1st appearance for them, and his time in Italy was an injury-riddled, scandal-ridden disaster. How far he had fallen from being England's biggest star at the 1990 World Cup and the hero of Spurs' '91 FA Cup win.

He would come back to Britain and help Rangers win 2 Scottish titles, and have a brief flash of glory for England in the 1996 European Championships. But his drinking would get him bounced from club to club, and by 2004 he was done as a player.

In February 2013, he was near death at a rehab clinic in Arizona, and the drying-out didn't take, as there have been several incidents since. In August 2014, he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct again, and was evicted from his apartment. He looked far older than his 47 years. Just in the last 6 months, he's been photographed falling out of a parked car in May, been hospitalized after a drunken fall in July, inadvertently exposed himself after getting out of a taxi in July, pled guilty to racially abusing his black bodyguard in September paying £1,000 each to the court and the victim), been charged with squeezing a woman's breast in October, and pulled out of an installment of his current job, the "An Evening With Gazza" paid speaking engagement tour, for showing up drunk, also in October.

"For 20 years, that was all I knew," he has said of his playing career. "Then, before you know it, your career's over, and you've not planned anything. That's maybe why I took to drink heavily. Just to pass the day." Which makes him comparable to American baseball legend Mickey Mantle, who died at 63 as a result of his drinking.

Some people say things might have been different had he decided against the move to Tottenham, that the capital held too many temptations. He scoffs at the notion: "Listen, I could have gone to Man United, but I didn't think I'd get a regular game, and I just wanted to play. They say that Man U would have kept me under control, but Wayne Rooney's been in trouble, Rio Ferdinand's been in trouble, Ryan Giggs has been in trouble, and Eric Cantona two-footed a bloke in the crowd! Maybe their control wasn't all that tight after all?"

And, of course, Man United legend George Best proved that not only could a footballer get in trouble in Manchester, but that the 200 miles between that city and London is no problem for a man of means. Best, like Mantle a 1960s icon who wore Number 7, drank too much, was a womanier, and had a liver transplant too late, died at age 59. No one will be surprised if Gazza ends up dead as a result of his drinking, well before old age. 

Or, to put it another way: Tony Adams, Arsenal's Captain from 1988 to 2002, quit drinking and founded a rehab centre; Paul Gascoigne, Tottenham's biggest star of the last 40 years, got kicked out of that rehab centre.

But in 1991, Spurs fans were feeling quite full of themselves. So were Arsenal fans. Both clubs had some claim to glory. Something had to give.

August 10, 1991: For the 1st and only time, the Charity Shield -- the traditional season-opening exhibition between the defenders of the League title and the FA Cup, usually held at Wembley Stadium, and now called the Community Shield -- is a North London Derby. But it's not worth seeing, as Arsenal and Tottenham play to a turgid draw, 0-0. The word "turgid" was created for nil-nil draws, wasn't it?

February 22, 1992: For the last time under the name "Football League Division One," Arsenal and Tottenham play each other. It's at White Hart Lane, and it's a 1-1 draw.

Shortly after this, Nick Hornby's book Fever Pitch was published. It is a memoir of his football fandom, mostly for Arsenal, but also includes, with his time at Cambridge University, some good times at lower-division Cambridge United. In 1997, it was made into a film starring Colin Firth, playing Paul Ashworth, a fictionalized (or "fictionalised," as they'd spell it) version of Hornby, then an English teacher at a North London junior high school.

The book, and even more so the movie, would make Hornby (who has a non-speaking cameo as a schoolboy-league team coach opposing Firth's team about midway through the film) world-famous. It would also, every bit as much as the international exposure that the growth of soccer coverage on television and the success of the team in the Arsène Wenger era, make the Arsenal brand grow, attracting millions of new followers around the world.

Suddenly, Arsenal no longer belonged just to Islington, or to North London, or to London, or to the South of England, or to England, or to Britain, or even to the British Isles (thanks to the late 1970s' "Irish Connection"). The Arsenal would come to belong to anyone who wanted to be a part of it.

Some Gooners think that this was a bad thing. Some think that it is a wonderful thing. As Hornby put it in his screenplay, "Perhaps it's something you can't understand unless you belong."

Just as the old New York Giants baseball team never had a book that made their 1950s teams as retroactively beloved as their arch-rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, became with Roger Kahn's 1972 The Boys of Summer, Tottenham have never been immortalized (or "immortalised") by a great book.

Which is fine, because Tottenham fans are functionally illiterate, and can't read, never mind write. When they sang about Highbury, and now its replacement, the Emirates, as being a "library" (sort-of rhyming with "Highbury"), because they think it's too quiet (wait until Arsenal score on Spurs, and you'll see how loud the place can be), it begs the question: "How the fuck would a Tottenham fan know what the inside of a library sounds like?"

December 12, 1992: For the 1st time under the name "the Premier League," Arsenal and Tottenham play each other in a League game. It's at White Hart Lane, and Spurs win, 1-0.

April 4, 1993: As it was 2 years earlier, Arsenal and Spurs play each other in an FA Cup Semifinal at Wembley. The result is different however, as neither Paul Gascoigne nor Gary Lineker is around to save Spurs. Arsenal Captain Tony Adams heads in the game's only goal. The attendance is 76,263, not quite as big as the match 2 years earlier, but still the 2nd-biggest in North London Derby history.

With the Pet Shop Boys having brought back the Village People's song "Go West," Gooners have begun to sing this game's final score: "One-nil to The Arsenal." And Arsenal, having already won the League Cup Final, go on to win the FA Cup Final, in what turns out to be the last replay of such a Final -- after this, Finals level at the end of extra time will go to penalties. (They also change the rules to end the potentially endless replays: One replay, and, if still level, extra time, then penalties.) Oddly, Arsenal beat the same team in each Final, Sheffield Wednesday -- just as Wednesday were the team Tottenham beat to clinch both of their League titles, and were the team Arsenal needed 4 replays to knock out of the Cup in the 3rd Round in 1979. (They needed 3 to beat Liverpool in the 1980 Semifinal.)

This is the 1st time any English team has achieved the "Cup Double," winning both domestic cups in the same season. Liverpool would match the feat in 2001 (and top it by adding the UEFA Cup for a unique "Cup Treble"), and Chelsea would do it in 2007. Despite their reputation as "really a cup team," Spurs have never achieved this, coming closest in 1987 when they bottled the League Cup Semifinal at home to Arsenal and the FA Cup Final on an own goal vs. Coventry City.

May 11, 1993: Spurs get a measure of revenge for the Semifinal loss, beating Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury. Teddy Sheringham scores, and, in a career that will also take him to Manchester United, goes on to become one of the most hated opponents in Arsenal history (aside from those who played for Arsenal and then left for more money or more "ambition," like Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie).

In spite of their Cup Double, Arsenal finished only 10th in the 1st Premier League season, while Tottenham finished 8th. Can you imagine if Arsène Wenger had managed such a season? Or would the Wenger Out Brigade forgive it, because it came with trophies (that's plural)?

At any rate, this game turns out to be the last time Tottenham would ever win at Highbury -- and the last time they would win away to Arsenal for 17 years and 6 months. Indeed, they have won away to Arsenal exactly once in the last 23 years and 6 months.

August 16, 1993: Ian Wright nails the lone tally in a 1-0 win at Highbury, a rare first-month-of-the-season Derby.

May 4, 1994: Arsenal defeat Italian club Parma 1-0 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. (Parma had won it the season before.) They have not won an European trophy since -- but that's still 10 years more recently than Tottenham's last European Trophy.

Tottenham fans like to say, "We're a bigger club in Europe" because they've won 3 European trophies to our 2. Those trophies came in 1963, 1972 and 1984. Ours came in 1970 and 1994. We haven't won one in 22 years, but we have won one in the last 32 years, and they haven't. Besides, when you've been to the European Cup/Champions League only 3 times in the tournament's 62-season history, you are not a bigger club than one that's been in it 19 straight seasons.

January 2, 1995: Tottenham win 1-0 at White Hart Lane, with Romanian defender Gheorge Popsecu, in his only season with the club, scoring the only goal.

Shortly thereafter, George Graham will be fired as Arsenal manager, for taking an illegal payment to bring a player to Arsenal. Note to any current and prospective managers: If you're going to risk throwing away your career, make sure that the player you do it for is a hell of a lot better than John Jensen.

Tottenham finish 7th, and Arsenal finish 12th -- their worst finish in 19 years. This is, to this day, the last time that Tottenham have finished ahead of Arsenal, the last season without a St. Totteringham's Day, the last time that Spurs fans could truthfully claim, at least in terms of League standards, that their club is better than Arsenal. How long has it been? No, Paul Ashworth, it is no longer "Eighteen fucking years!" It is twenty-one fucking years.

May 10, 1995: As holders, Arsenal were again entered into the Cup Winners' Cup, even though they had failed to defend the FA Cup in 1994. With Stewart Houston as caretaker manager following Graham's sacking, they again reach the Final.

The match, against Spanish club Real Zaragoza at the Parc des Princes in Paris, goes to extra time, and it looks like it will go to penalties (giving Arsenal a chance to redeem the 1980 Final of that tournament) when, in the 119th minute (out of 120 plus stoppage time), Zaragoza's Turkish midfielder Mohammed Ali Amar, a.k.a. "Nayim," hits a 45-yard lob shot that sails over Arsenal goalie David Seaman's head and into the net, giving Zaragoza a 2-1 win.

Nayim played for Tottenham from 1988 to 1993. To this day, Tottenham fans sing Nayim's name -- well, his nom de football, anyway -- to mock Arsenal. What they fail to understand is that Nayim's cup-winning goal didn't have a damned thing to do with Tottenham. It would be as if they sang the name of Trevor Brooking after his diving header beat Arsenal to win the 1980 FA Cup for West Ham. Or Ryan Giggs after his late goal beat Arsenal to win the 1999 FA Cup Semifinal for Manchester United. Or Sol Campbell to taunt Gooners after Sol helped a team win The Double in 2002. Of course, that team was... Ah, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

November 24, 1996: It rains all game long on Highbury for Arsène Wenger's 1st North London Derby as Arsenal manager, having taken the job 2 months earlier. But in the 88th minute, Tony Adams -- mere weeks after leaving rehab and publicly revealing his recovery from a horrible alcohol addiction -- blasts a shot from outside the penalty area and brings some sunshine to the Gooners, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead.

Shortly thereafter, one of the most amazing plays ever happens. Ian Wright gets the ball on the east touchline, and, bugged by Spurs defender Clive Wilson -- whose stupid tackle in the box led to Wright scoring a penalty earlier -- puts on a display of footwork that doesn't seem possible outside of cartoons. Wilson tries for about 5 seconds to get the ball away from Wrighty's magic feet, but, finally, Wrighty decides he's had enough of Wilson's shit, and maneuvers (or "manoeuvers") away from him, and sends an almighty cross all the way across the pitch to the new darling of the Highbury faithful, Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp. Bergkamp puts on a great move to fake out a defender, and drills home the insurance goal. Arsenal win, 3-1.

Arsenal finish 3rd in Wenger's 1st season, their highest finish in 6 years. And then, in 1997-98, despite only getting 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Spurs, Arsenal win The Double. Now Arsenal had 2 Doubles to Spurs' 1 -- and that 1 was 37 years earlier.

November 14, 1998: A sight neither Gooners nor Spurs fans ever thought they'd see: Not only is George Graham out of exile from management, but he's managing against Arsenal -- for Tottenham! Just as Gooners normally chant "(name of manager's) Red-White Army!" Tottenham fans chant "(name of manager's) Blue-White Army!" This time, since he was such an Arsenal legend, they can't bring themselves to chant the name "George Graham," so it's "Man in a Raincoat's Blue-White Army!" The game ends in a 0-0 draw.

March 21, 1999: Tottenham beat Leicester City -- the team they beat to win The Double 38 years earlier -- 1-0 on a stoppage-time goal by Allan Nielsen. (What is it with Graham and midfielders from Denmark?) This gives Spurs the League Cup, their 1st trophy in 8 years.

Graham has now won the League Cup in his 1st season managing each of the North London teams. This is also the only trophy that centreback Sol Campbell, currently Tottenham's captain, would win with the club.

November 7, 1999: Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-1 at White Hart Lane. They will not win another League game against Arsenal for 10 years and 3 months -- a stretch of 22 games.

March 19, 2000: Gilles Grimandi becomes the only Arsenal player sent off in a North London Derby (or, at least, the only one since Arsenal vs. Tottenham became a battle of North London teams or even "North London" teams), as he is given a 2nd yellow card in the 85th minute at Highbury. Arsenal were leading 2-1, thanks to Chris Armstrong both giving and taking away (a goal for them, an own goal for us) and Ray Parlour getting chopped down in the box, resulting in a penalty scored by Thierry Henry. Arsenal manage to hang on for the win.

March 31, 2001: The teams and their fans gather at Highbury for a League match. A few days earlier, Graham had been sacked by Tottenham's new owners. Spurs fans were delighted, for, in spite of him getting them the only trophy they would win between 1991 and 2008, they hated him, for his insistence on a defense-first philosophy, despite his attacking nature as a player. But, mostly, they hated him for being an Arsenal legend. (Funny, Arsenal fans never had the converse problem with Herbert Chapman. Or Terry Neill. Or Pat Jennings. Or Willie Young. Or Sol Campbell.)

The cry was, "We want our Tottenham back!" (Sound familiar?) They wanted what had been called, in the years of Glenn Hoddle and Gary Mabbutt, of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, of Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle, of FA Cups and a UEFA Cup, "champagne football." And who was hired as the new manager? Why, none other than Hoddle, who had notoriously, spectacularly failed as England manager. But Spurs fans didn't care: They had "their Tottenham" back!

In the middle of the night before the game, David Rocastle, one of the great Arsenal midfielders of all time, died of lymphoma at the age of just 33. ("Rocky" had been retired for 2 years, and away from Arsenal for 9.) So, as if the fact that the game was a Derby, and the recent sacking of Graham, hadn't given the atmosphere enough of an emotional charge, now there was genuine tragedy. There were still men on the Arsenal squad who had been teammates of Rocky's: Goalkeeper David Seaman; defenders Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown; and midfielder Ray Parlour.

It was feared by many that Spurs fans would choose to not respect the moment of silence for Rocky -- or even that they would mock his death. They did not: They showed class and remained silent. And when the referee blew the whistle to end the minute, both sets of fans roared.

Perhaps because of the overhang of Rocky's death, the game never really got going. Robert Pires, Arsenal's new left winger, French by birth, but half-Spanish, half-Portuguese by ancestry, a man who would later be quoted in an interview as saying, "Every footballer is a son of a bitch," put on what the BBC's John Motson (who always pronounced the name wrong, as "Pih-REZ" instead of the correct "PEER-ez") called, "Nice trick, nice shot!" and opened the scoring. Arsenal would win it, 2-0.

But, as with the New York Yankees after they returned from Thurman Munson's funeral in 1979 to win a nationally-televised game, it may have been the only time fans walked away from Highbury in tears after an Arsenal win.

April 8, 2001: The clubs are paired in an FA Cup Semifinal, to be held on neutral grand at Old Trafford outside Manchester. (Since Wembley was being demolished and rebuilt, and the FA and League Cup Finals were already being held at the largest remaining stadium in Britain, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, the FA didn't want this game to also be held outside England, so they went to the largest remaining stadium in England, the home of Man United.)

Tottenham fans are singing, "The year ends in one!" Tottenham had won the FA Cup in 1901, 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991; the League in 1951 and 1961; and the League Cup in 1971. Indeed, not since 1941 had a year ending in a 1 passed without Tottenham winning a trophy -- really, 1931, since 1941 was a war year with no League play. They especially point out that Tottenham had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup Semifinal in 1991, 10 years earlier. I guess the morons forgot that Arsenal had won the League in 1931, 1971 and 1991; and the FA Cup in 1971.

Gary Doherty opens the scoring in the 13th minute, but Patrick Vieira levels the score in the 33rd. In the 73rd, Pires, who would seem to make a career out of scoring on Spurs (and also Southampton, hardly an Arsenal rival), puts in a Sylvain Wiltord cross for an easy score. Arsenal win, 2-1, and Tim Sherwood, who grew up as an Arsenal fan but was playing as a midfielder for Tottenham at the time, says that Arsenal should have scored "seven or eight" on that day. Thus ended the "Year ends in one" nonsense -- at least for another 10 years.

To the tune of "Volare," people who didn't like Tottenham would sing of Sherwood:

Tim Sherwood, whoa!
Tim Sherwood, whoa!
He comes from Borehamwood!
He ain't no fucking good!

Arsenal would lose the Final to Liverpool in Cardiff, leading 1-0 on a Freddie Ljungberg goal before Michael Owen scored both Scouse goals. As for Spurs, in that Semifinal, Captain Sol Campbell got a yellow card. He and Spurs management had been feuding, and apparently he and Hoddle didn't get along.

July 3, 2001: After he had rejected all overtures by Spurs, and from European giants Barcelona, Internazionale of Milan and Bayern Munich, Sol Campbell signs with Arsenal. Spurs' captain was now the rock of Arsenal's defense, ready to replace the aging Adams.

Tottenham fans were livid, turning as red as their rivals' shirts. Not with embarrassment, as they should have, but with rage.

November 17, 2001: The teams meet for the 1st time since the Campbell move, at Highbury. The game ends in a 1-1 draw, not especially interesting. The interesting part is the debut, not just of Campbell against Spurs, but of a Spurs fans' song:

Sol, Sol, wherever you may be
You're on the verge of lunacy!
We don't give a fuck
if you're hanging from a tree!
Judas cunt with HIV!

Putting aside the usage of the F-word and the C-word, 2 of the uglier words in the English language: In 5 lines, Spurs fans managed to invoke mental illness, racism (the prospect of a black man being lynched) and homophobia (the reference to AIDS, and plenty of rumors, or "rumours," that Sol is gay, although he has since married a woman).

This chant would be used by Spurs fans against Sol for the rest of his career, including on September 28, 2008, when, with Sol by then playing for Portsmouth against Tottenham, 4 Spurs fans were banned from White Hart Lane for life, their season tickets revoked, for singing that song.

May 8, 2002: Arsenal beat Man United 1-0 at Old Trafford, on a 2nd-half goal by Wiltord. What does this have to do with Tottenham? Well, just 4 days earlier -- breaking their own record of 5 days between the 2 trophies in 1971 -- Arsenal had won the FA Cup, defeating Chelsea in Cardiff on a pair of fantastic goals, one by Parlour, one by Ljungberg -- and this game clinched the Premiership title, giving Arsenal their 3rd Double. It also meant that they had won the League at United's Old Trafford, and Liverpool's Anfield, and Tottenham's White Hart Lane.

Even more, it meant that Sol Campbell had gone from 9 years at Tottenham with only a League Cup to show for it, to winning The Double with Arsenal in his 1st season with them. A new song was launched, to the tune of "The Entertainer" (a.k.a. the theme from the film The Sting):

Double, Double, Double!
Sol Campbell has won The Double!
And The Scum from The Lane
have won fuck-all again
and Sol Campbell has won The Double!

November 16, 2002: After Simon Davies makes 2 harsh challenges to stupidly get himself sent off with a 2nd yellow in only the 27th minute, with Arsenal already 1-0 up at Highbury, Thierry Henry makes a 75-yard charge down the east touchline, and scores a sensational solo goal. He then runs down the west touchline to join the Gooners in cheering on his goal, and keeps right on running to the Spurs fans situated in the southeast corner, and does a kneeslide, as they show him middle fingers, V-signs and wanker signs.

It did not matter: Henry was better than any striker, better than any player, Tottenham fans have ever been able to claim as their own. That kneeslide became the basis for Henry's statue outside the Emirates.

Arsenal win the match, 3-0, and would go on to win the FA Cup with Pires scoring the only goal in the Final against his other favorite (or "favourite") team to beat, Southampton; but would miss another Double thanks to a late loss vs. Leeds, giving the title to Man United.

November 8, 2003: Tottenham take an early 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Darren Anderton -- who missed so many games due to injury that his nickname was "Sicknote" -- but a Pires screamer and a wildly deflected shot by Ljungberg give Arsenal a 2-1 win. This was early in the most successful League season any British club has ever known.  Late in it...

April 25, 2004: On a Sunday afternoon, Chelsea's defeat in the early game meant that Arsenal need only a draw to clinch the Premier League title at White Hart Lane. They jump at the chance, with Vieira (in only the 3rd minute of the game) and Pires (in the 35th) each scoring a beauty.

But Jamie Redknapp -- whose father Harry would later cause Arsenal some trouble as a manager -- hits a screamer of his own. In stoppage time, there is a dive in the box, and referee Mark Halsey stupidly (or corruptly?) awards a penalty. Robbie Keane takes it, and it's 2-2.

Before the game, Wenger had told his players that, if they get the point they need, they should not celebrate on the pitch, but rather wait until they were in the dressing room. But, as Henry later said, after the equaliser, the Spurs fans "celebrated like they won the World Cup Final." (As a part of the France team that did just that in 1998, he would know.) Play resumes, and when Halsey almost immediately blow his whistle, the Gunners basically say, "Fuck it, we're the Champions," and party along with the Arsenal fans who'd made the 4 1/2-mile trip up the Seven Sisters Road to celebrate. The song, dating back to 1971, goes up:

We won the League (We won the League)
at White Hart Lane! (at White Hart Lane!)
We won the League at White Hart Lane!
We won the League at the Shithole!
We won the League at White Hart Lane!

Arsenal had already crashed out of the FA Cup in the Semifinal against Man United and the Champions League in the Quarterfinal against Chelsea. But they would finish the season unbeaten in League play, something that hadn't been done since the 1st League season, 1888-89 -- 115 years. And when Preston North End did that, it was a 22-game season. This was 38. Or, as Jon Champion, broadcasting the finale, said at the time, "They were, quite literally, unbeatable: Played 38, won 26, drawn 12, lost exactly none!"

So not only had Arsenal now won the League at White Hart Lane as many times as Tottenham had won it there -- as many times as Tottenham had won it anywhere -- but they'd come up with an unmatched achievement in English football. Tottenham have never done it. Nor have Liverpool, nor Man United, nor Chelsea, nor any other club, since the (much shorter) 1888-89 season and Preston North End. Just The Arsenal.

They would run their streak of unbeaten matches in the League to an all-time record 49, before a Wayne Rooney dive would give Man United a dubious penalty and a dubious win at Old Trafford the following October 24.

The story concludes in Part V.

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