Dele Alli joined Tottenham from MK Dons in 2015 and quickly learnt all about the rivalries that come with being a Spurs player.
The North-London derby is considered by most to be the biggest rivalry for both sides since Arsenal upped sticks from Woolwich in South London and entered what was traditionally considered Tottenham territory in 1913.
There are just four miles between the Emirates Stadium and The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and over the years the game has produced some thrilling spectacles.
Recently Spurs have had the upper hand in the derby winning three and drawing two of the last five meetings and finishing above Arsenal in the league for four years running. Currently, Tottenham sit two points ahead of the Gunners with a game in hand.
Alli has played in nine North-London derby’s winning on three occasions, however, the attacking-midfielder let on that the players do not see Arsenal as their biggest rivals:
“When I first joined I realised how much the fans hate each other but as a team, our rivalry is more with Chelsea,” Alli told the FIFA PlayOn Podcast.
Alli was quickly made aware of what a clash with Arsenal does to the atmosphere around the club adding:
” Obviously it’s different now without the fans but when I first came in from Milton Keynes to Tottenham you could feel the energy when it was building up to a North London Derby.When you win that game and the fans are there it’s a good feeling.”
Alli put the squad’s rivalry with Chelsea down to the role the Blues played in stopping Tottenham’s title challenge in the 2015-16 season.
Going into the final three games of the run-in Spurs visited Stamford Bridge knowing that a win was the only option if they wanted to stay in the hunt for their first league title since 1961.
Spurs took a two-goal lead before half-time only to be pegged back in the second-half with Eden Hazard grabbing a late equaliser and handing Leceister an unlikely title triumph.
The game has gone down in infamy as ‘The Battle of the Bridge’ with Tottenham receiving a Premier League record nine yellow cards that evening.
This defeat to Chelsea and the battle with Leicester saw both teams become rivals in Alli’s eyes:
“During the first season, Leicester [were rivals] because we were fighting with them at the time. Chelsea had ruined our chance of winning [the league] against Leicester and there were a few things that had happened with our current squad.”
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Alli was named Young Player of the Season in 2016 for a remarkable debut year in the top-flight and went on to win the same award the following year.
Something the 24-year-old put down to his “hunger and always wanting to achieve more.”
This season has not gone to plan for Alli featuring in just five league games for Tottenham and the midfielder admitted: ” things haven’t probably gone as I wanted them to.”
But the Spurs star is not done yet and he added: “I’ll be back.”