When was the last time Tottenham finished above Arsenal?

By Tony Attwood

This article was written with a few games to go in the 2011/12 season.  Now we know Arsenal finished 3rd, Tottenham 4th this season, and Chelsea… well, Chelsea…

Anyway, here’s the record and in due course I’ll add the extra line to show this season…


The issue of beating Tottenham in the league has become something of an obsession of late, and yet when I have asked a few friends which year it was that Tottenham actually did beat us in the final league position, there was some argument.

Yes, I know ancient history is boring, but sometimes it is good to know the facts.  So here they are: the top clubs in London, and the Arsenal v Tottenham issue.

Year Arsenal Chelsea Tottenham Top London
2011 4 2 5 Chelsea
2010 3 1 4 Chelsea
2009 4 3 8 Chelsea
2008 3 2 11 Chelsea
2007 4 2 5 Chelsea
2006 4 1 5 Chelsea
2005 2 1 9 Chelsea
2004 1 2 14 Arsenal
2003 2 4 10 Arsenal
2002 1 6 9 Arsenal
2001 2 6 12 Arsenal
2000 2 5 10 Arsenal
1999 2 3 11 Arsenal
1998 1 4 14 Arsenal
1997 3 6 10 Arsenal
1996 5 11 8 Arsenal
1995 12 11 7 Tottenham
1994 4 14 15 Arsenal
1993 10 11 8 Tottenham


So there it is – the last time Tottenham beat us in the final league table it was by coming 7th, and we came 12th, in 1995.  That was, in case you were not here at the time, the season in which George Graham was sacked as manager.  The time before that Tottenham beat us by coming 8th.

In 1994 the second London club behind us was Wimbledon who were 6th.  QPR were 9th as the third London team, WHU were the fourth London team in 13th.

The current run of our ending up higher than Tottenham started with the Bruce Rioch year in which we came 5th.

So what to make of these figures?  Nothing much, of course, I just put the list together to answer the prime question about Tottenham’s position in the league.  But I think the top half of the table is interesting.  Chelsea, since the injection of the Abramovich billions are the top London club – just as Wimbledon could have been if Merton had given them a new site and Abramovich or an Arab oil state ruler had chosen them.

And yet, even with the billions, it looks as if the Chelsea reign is coming to an end as top London club.  Despite all that money.  And I find that rather encouraging.  We were top club in the capital for 9 years, Chelsea has been for 7, and now?

Tottenham’s best position through this table has been one appearance at fourth.  Chelsea have had nine years in the top four.  This could be the season when quite a few things change.

I’ll be returning to the Bertie Mee series in the next article





13 Replies to “When was the last time Tottenham finished above Arsenal?”

  1. It is always nice to finish above tottehnham but I think we should be much more ambitious..we are a MUCH BIGGER club than spurs and our aim should be trophies not only finishing above spurs..hopefully third position this year is a step towards the right direction

  2. No wonder the tiny totts are so bitter, they’ve always been in our shadow.If I were them I would also hate us.

  3. Hi,great site. Rich in history. One thing that is missing significantly is the history of the white sleeves. Can you write an article on the history of this and how it came about as that is iconic to the Arsenal worldwide. I visited the Arsenal museum and they have the actual shirt given to the person who came up with the white sleeve design. Tom webster if i remember. An aussie has loaned it to the museum. Thanks, Jo

  4. Jo – an interesting point. I am not too sure about the details, but I think like so many other things this is accredited to Chapman. However as we have shown on this site, not everything accredited to the great man actually came from him. I will seek guidance from colleagues and one of us will write this up.


  5. Dom, you’re ever so slightly wrong.
    The last time Spurs finished above The Arsenal was way back in the previous Century…before the Spice Girls, yes that long ago.

  6. Tony- In Arsenal lore, the white sleeves conception is accredited to cartoonist Tom Webster.
    He turned up for a game of golf, resplendent in a sleeveless blue pullover, worn over a white shirt.
    The Chelsea chairman, present on the course, admired the look and suggested it to the club manager, who declined the suggestion to change the kit accordingly.
    Webster (not Malcolm) relayed the incident to Herbert Chapman, who liked the idea and adopted it accordingly, and so the famous look made it’s debut in March 1933.

    Tony: I’m still available for assistance with the 1970’s project….you can contact me by e-mail anytime.

  7. Yiddo it was when Arsenal were promoted from the second division after coming runners-up. Now having answered that would be you reply and let me know how Tottenham came to be promoted from the Southern League to the Football League after coming seventh in the Southern League. we know when Arsenal came up in 1919 they were elected as a result of the reorganisation following the match fixing scandal involving Liverpool and Man U, but I’ve never worked out how Tottenham did it vis a vis the Southern League.

  8. From 1894/5 to 1921 the bottom three of the football league had to be re-elected. The same for the old 2nd Division as there was no 3rd or 4th Divisions. You are right Spurs did finish 7th in the Southern League 1908 and Bradford Park Avenue finished 13th but both were legitimately elected into the Football league Division 2. As for the infamous 1919/20 season. In the 1914/15 season the Woolwich Wanderers were 5th after playing 15 games in Div 2 and Spurs were bottom by one point in Div 1 after playing 7 games (others had played 10). Then the league season was abandoned because of the first Word War. On the restart in 1919 the Woolwich Wanderers got elected from Div 2 while Spurs got relegated. You never got promoted on merit it was by money. The deal was done behind closed doors where Herbert Chapman bought votes. To show that it was unfair we got promoted finishing top of Div 2 in the 1919/20 season. It’s always nice to educate thick Woolwich Wanderers who try to hide their dodgey past!!!!

  9. True Spur

    May I suggest you read the site properly, in particular this subject. Totteringham finished 20th and bottom of the first division in 1914-15 after the full season in playing all 38 games, the same as every team in the division. The pre war season abandoned was 1939-40 after only three games.
    Who is thick then?

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