Arsenal's farewell to White Hart Lane will be fonder than you think

James Benge
Wenger celebrates winning the Premier League at White Hart Lane in 2004: Arsenal FC via Getty Images

When the time comes for fond farewells to White Hart Lane there will be many in North London who shed a tear at the joyous scenes that they have witnessed at Tottenham’s home since 1899.

You wonder if Arsene Wenger might be one of them.

Of course it was not at the Lane that the Frenchman’s greatest triumph – arguably the greatest in English footballing history – was secured. That came 20 days later at Highbury when Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira enshrined the 2003-04 Arsenal side’s place in history with the goals in a 2-1 win over Leicester City.

But that year will always be synonymous with winning the league at the home of their greatest rivals, and not for the first time.

Even Arsenal’s failure to claim three points – first-half goals from captain Vieira and Robert Pires were cancelled out by Jamie Redknapp and a last-minute Robbie Keane penalty – highlighted the strengths that had carried them through 36 league matches without defeat.

They were champions of England yet at the full-time whistle Henry fumed at two points thrown away to a vastly inferior team.

Jens Lehmann had carelessly conceded the penalty to Keane that so dampened the celebrations among the champions and Sol Campbell, the man who had ditched Spurs for the promise of trophies with Arsene Wenger, gave him both barrels.

It was, Campbell would later confess, the only time he “really, really lost it” with his team-mate. He was not the only one; even Wenger vented his frustration at Lehmann in the champions’ dressing room.

Perhaps that speaks to the changes in Arsenal’s DNA since that day, it is hard to imagine Petr Cech being so roundly chastised on any occasion, let alone after he has just won the title.

But then of course there was something unique about that Arsenal team, a team whose relentless demands of each other pushed them on to levels no-one except their manager believed were possible, who left their mark on White Hart Lane in more ways than just the indents from the champagne corks on the away dressing room.

Whilst Arsenal fans may not mourn the passing of another of London’s grand old grounds in their same way as their rivals up the Seven Sisters Road they may at least note with some degree of disappointment that the scene their greatest triumph’s defining moment will soon be no more.

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