Tottenham’s impending move to the new White Hart Lane evokes memories of the old stadium. In its heyday, White Hart Lane oversaw countless classics and here are five of the best from the Premier League era.
Tottenham 3-5 Manchester United
One of the all-time great Premier League comebacks and perhaps indicative of early-onset Spursiness, this game between United and Spurs in the early 2000s will be a long time fading from memory.
Four-in-a-row chasing United travelled to White Hart Lane in September 2001, already looking far more vulnerable than the all-conquering machine that had cantered to a Premier League title the previous May. And so it proved at White Hart Lane, for the first half at least.
Goals from Spurs’ new signing Dean Richards, along with efforts from Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege had them 3-0 up before the break, with the White Hart Lane faithful already cheering every pass the home side made.
But even at 3-0 it never felt fully over. Such was the disparity between United and Tottenham in those days that Alex Ferguson’s team talk when United played Spurs consisted of just three words; ‘lads its Tottenham.’
The atmosphere inside White Hart Lane, jovial at half time, turned jittery within a minute of the restart thanks to an Andy Cole goal. With the deficit down to two, Tottenham no longer looked comfortable and headed goals from Laurent Blanc and Ruud Van Nistelrooy had United level in the blink of an eye.
Juan Sebastian Veron put United ahead with a powerful left-footed drive before David Beckham rounded off the scoring with a typically well-hit half volley.
The game was as much a testament to United’s ability to overcome adversity under Ferguson as it was an example of Spurs’ mental fragility, but whatever way you look at it, it was an all-time classic.
Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal
Another high scoring classic, this was one of the most memorable North London Derby’s in recent memory. New Spurs manager Martin Jol was thrown straight into the deep end in his first game in charge against the defending champions who had recently gone on a 49-game unbeaten run.
However, that run had come to an end just two weeks previous, and there was a feeling that the Gunners had lost some of the aura that made them so formidable over the last half-century of games.
Spurs, perhaps buoyed by this, bossed the opening half against a sluggish Arsenal and took the lead through Noureddine Naybet.
They would have been even further in front had it not been for the heroics of Jens Lehmann and were inevitably punished for their wastefulness when Thierry Henry finished off a counter-attack on the stroke of half time.
The old cliché that that is the worst time to concede held true and Arsenal scored twice in quick succession after the restart through Lauren and Patrick Vieira. Despite Spurs’ best efforts, they were playing catch up from thereafter and could never quite close the gap.
Jermaine Defoe’s goal was cancelled out by Freddie Ljungberg, while a Ledley King header was answered by Robert Pires. Freddie Kanoute’s late effort proved to be a mere consolation in one of the most entertaining North London Derby’s of all time.
Tottenham 4-4 Chelsea
Just week’s after Tottenham and Chelsea met in the 2008 League Cup final, they met again in a far more entertaining league fixture. Spurs’ attempts to rub in the recent league cup triumph fell flat when Chelsea took the lead after three minutes through Didier Drogba, only for a Jonathan Woodgate header to draw Spurs level, his second such goal against Chelsea in two games.
Michael Essien put Chelsea back ahead before Joe Cole shrugged off the challenge of Pascal Chimbonda to double Chelsea’s lead. In truth, Chelsea could have been further in front and only wasteful finishing kept Tottenham in the game.
To their credit though, Tottenham dragged themselves back into it through Dimitar Berbatov and Tom Huddlestone, only for the mercurial Cole to put Chelsea 4-3 ahead after he evaded another frail Pascal Chimbonda challenge.
On a side note, how did Pascal Chimbonda ever make it as a professional footballer?
Robbie Keane, known for his prowess around the six-yard box, rescued a late point for Tottenham with a stunning effort from 20-yards out that found the top corner of Carlo Cudicini’s goal and typified the crazy nature of the game.
Tottenham 9-1 Wigan
Despite being on a Sunday, Tottenham versus Wigan was not a live game. Stoke’s 1-0 win over Portsmouth was.
To be fair, even at half time no one could have foreseen such a rout. Peter Crouch’s header was the solitary goal in a half totally dominated by Spurs and they finally found their scoring touch after the restart.
Seven frantic minutes saw Jermaine Defoe secure the match ball and Paul Scharner controversially pull one back for Wigan after he clearly handled the ball on its way into the net. It mattered little though as Spurs were remorseless.
An Aaron Lennon goal made it five before two more from Defoe made him just the third player in Premier League history to score five in the same game.
A David Bentley freekick that struck the bar and hit the unfortunate Chris Kirkland made it eight, before Niko Kranjcar, a Harry Redknapp deadline day favourite, made it nine.
It was Tottenham’s biggest ever top-flight win and is their biggest Premier League win by some distance.
Tottenham 3-1 Inter Milan
Without doubt Tottenham’s biggest Champions League night at White Hart Lane, the triumph over reigning champions Inter in 2010 ranks right up there with Tottenham’s best European nights.
After coming away from the San Siro with a credible 4-3 defeat, Spurs ripped the European champions to shreds at White Hart Lane. Gareth Bale was at the heart of almost everything good from Tottenham. Fresh from his famous hat-trick in Italy, Bale produced an arguably better performance in London and Maicon, celebrated as the best right-back in the world at the time, had no answer.
Rafael Van Der Vaart put Tottenham ahead after he was slipped through by Luka Modric, (what a combination that was) but Bale took centre stage thereafter. Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko were the beneficiaries of Bale’s pace, power and ability, and their goals sandwiched Samuel Eto’o’s effort in what was an altogether convincing win over Italian giants.
Admittedly, Inter were not the same team since Jose Mourinho’s summer departure to Real Madrid, but this was also Tottenham’s first appearance in Europe’s top competition since 1962 and beating the champions made it that bit more memorable.