It’s one thing to diss a rival on the pitch by beating them. It’s a completely different thing to say another club has replaced a rival.
“Rivalry With Chelsea Bigger Than Arsenal” – Tottenham’s Dele Alli
Tottenham and Chelsea at a Higher Standard Than Arsenal
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand for Copa 90, Alli said (21:30 mark) “I think if you ask the fans they’ll probably give you a different answer. But as players, obviously the way games have been going, the league, and stuff, the rivalry we have with Chelsea is bigger than the one with Arsenal. Truly because of what they’ve done to us in recent years.”
Alli hits the nail on the head as the bitter rivalry between Tottenham and Chelsea has increased relentlessly in recent seasons as they’ve battled it out in cup semifinals and finals on top of fighting for top four places.
The rivalry really took centre stage and in May 2016 with The Battle At The Bridge. Breathing down Leicester’s neck in the hunt for the league title, Spurs travelled to West London expecting to kick the snot out of mid-table strugglers Chelsea.
After taking the lead 2-0 before halftime, Spurs collapse physically and emotionally. The Blues stormed back with the levelling goal late on from wayward forward Eden Hazard who had endured a nightmare season. When the final whistle blew, Spurs finished with nine yellow cards and having blown the title, Leicester clinching it with Tottenham’s draw.
Tottenham and Chelsea have not met in the Champions League knockout stages in recent seasons, but both sides have regularly played in Europe’s top club competition. Arsenal have not.
And to even get into the Champions League, both Spurs and the Blues have fought for and clinched top four spots in the league. Arsenal have not.
North London Back Seat
The North London Derby, between Spurs and Arsenal, seems the most bitter. Especially historically.
For instance, Arsenal fans celebrate St. Totteringham’s Day, the day the Gunners mathematically secure a higher league table finish than Spurs. No such “holiday” exists between the Spurs and Chelsea or Chelsea and Arsenal.
Ferdinand agreed with Dele that the North London Derby has taken a back seat to the Spurs and Chelsea rivalry at the moment. But who knows? Maybe Arsenal’s new manager Mikel Arteta will change that. Maybe Jose Mourinho will drive Tottenham right into the ground. Everything goes in cycles.
According to the Spurs playmaker, the cycle right now is that Spurs players see Chelsea as the bigger rival. And rightfully so. The latest stinger, Chelsea beat Spurs in their one and only meeting at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Arsenal haven’t visited yet.
But what about you, whether you have a dog in one of the London derbies or not, what do you think is the biggest rivalry right now amongst Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham? Let us know in the comments.