Although Arsenal and Chelsea are now great rivals on and off the pitch, that has more been the case in recent years since the money of Roman Abramovich helped transform the West London club into serial contenders in almost every competition they enter.
And there is one thing supporters of the two clubs have in common – they share a common foe.
Ask almost Arsenal fan who they most want to beat – or fear losing to – and the answer will almost invariably be Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs). And the same for Chelsea fans. Matches against a big club like Manchester United, Liverpool, or Manchester City will always have a certain cachet to them, but games against Spurs always have an extra edge.
It is not just a matter of geography. Although Spurs are nearest club to Arsenal in terns of miles, Fulham, Queen’s Park Rangers and Brentford are all situated nearer Stamford Bridge than the North London Stadium (or the “Toilet Bowl” as Gunners fans have dubbed it.
In each case there are more underlying reasons for the dislike and antipathy/
This series will look at some of these causes, beginning with Arsenal and concluding with Chelsea.
The Emirates Stadium is located 10 kms (or 6.1 miles) from the Tottenham ground, or for locals, the length of the Seven Sisters Road. They are the only two professional clubs in North London but, as any Spurs fan will happily relate, the Gunners are originally a South London club.
They were originally founded in South London by workers at the Woolwich Arsenal munitions factory, initially playing under the name Dial Square Football Club, and playing on Plumstead Common.
Dial Square became Royal and then Woolwich Arsenal, , but falling attendances due to financial difficulties among the workers, and competition from other clubs in the area, forced the owners, businessmen Henry Norris and William Hall, to consider moving them elsewhere.
And when suffragettes burned down Woolwich Arsenal’s grandstand in 1913, the decision was taken to move the club lock, stock, and barrel to a vacant plot in the Highbury area, which is where they remain to this day, although they are now in the Emirates Stadium, a few hundred yards from the old Highbury.
The move also coincided with another name change and they reverted to just being called Arsenal.
Tottenham were founded four years before Arsenal by a group of schoolboys, although it took them longer to gain professional status. They have always played at the same ground under a variety of names, and, for anybody prepared to listen to them, are the original “North London” team.
They were originally known as Hotspur Football Club, but added the epithet Tottenham to avoid confusion with another club, and to denote the area of London in which they are based.
Tee arrival of the parvenus in North London though meant that Spurs now had competition for fans.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.