Arsene Wenger has enjoyed some special memories at White Hart Lane during his 20-year reign.
But Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham on April 25, 2004, is his favourite. They clinched the title that day during the Invincibles season – and it also nearly ended up in a fight.
“It was good and bad that season because they equalised in the last minute and we nearly had a fight in the dressing room between Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann,” smiled Wenger.
“Because Jens gave away the penalty. The penalty was not a penalty, honestly. It was a nice gift, once again.”
Campbell was furious with Lehmann for conceding the last gasp spot-kick for treading on Robbie Keane’s feet at a corner and the Tottenham striker then stepped up to fire home an equaliser and take some of the gloss of what was arguably Wenger’s greatest day.
During those days, Arsenal were dominant and Wenger’s record at White Hart Lane is still impressive as he has played 24 games, won six, drawn 12 and lost six. However, three of those defeats have come in the last seven years.
That is further proof the power is shifting even if Wenger argues it will take 20 years of Tottenham dominance before they can say they rule North London.
Wenger has always enjoyed these derby days even though some of the abuse in his direction has been horrendous.
The current White Hart Lane is an old school ground, tight, the fans on top of the pitch and the atmosphere is always red-hot for Arsenal games.
“I personally won’t miss it but what I like is the atmosphere,” said Wenger. “What makes English football special is the fact that the fans live the game.
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Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal still want to finish above Tottenham this season
“For me, there’s two kinds of supporters, the supporters you get in some foreign countries who sing the same song during the whole game, or some different songs but not linked with the game. In England, the fans live the game every ball.
“When there’s a corner the sound goes up. When there’s a foul the sound goes up and that makes English football special and completely apart from everywhere else.”
Wenger has seen his own team move from Highbury to the Emirates and you feel he has a personal interest when asked whether Tottenham’s new stadium would see them losing a bit of their soul.
“The more comfortable you are the less supportive you are,” said Wenger.
“When you stand up you support better than when you’re in your seat. So if you imagine you’re lying down in a chair, you’re less supportive. The vocal aspect of the game is linked with the position of the supporters.
“Geographically, I know walking out (at Spurs) that our fans are here on the right, that’s a reference point, then you know the pitch is a bit smaller like Highbury and that you expect huge commitment, frenetic pace, very high vocal games. Of course, it makes the day special.”
Wenger was not interested in killing off Tottenham’s title hopes or Thierry Henry’s assertion that only Alexis Sanchez would make a combined North London XI.
Wenger added: “Football is about opinions, this one is one I don’t share at all. All the rest is not so important, you focus on what you think is important, let everyone else talk and that’s what I do.
“I’m not in football because I want to stop other teams to be successful.
“I’m in football because I want to be successful ourselves.”