Two Tottenham stars disagreed over lasagna-gate which handed Arsenal top four
Heading into Thursday's North London derby, there's one thing you can be sure of: lasagna is off the Tottenham menu.
Arsenal and Spurs will lock horns once again on Thursday night in one of the most eagerly-anticipated North London derbies in years, but there will be more than just pride at stake. The two age-old foes will be well aware that Thursday's critical clash will play a significant part in deciding which of the pair will dramatically secure a top-four Premier League finish and the right to compete in the Champions League next season.
But this isn't the first time the two bitter rivals have seen their hopes of competing in Europe's elite club competition go right down to the wire. While the circumstances surrounding the latest clash will evoke glorious memories for the Gunners, events of the past are likely to leave the stomachs of Spurs fans churning.
As is currently the case, back in May of 2006, the two foes found themselves going toe-to-toe to secure a coveted Champions League qualification spot as the Premier League season reached its climax. While the pair didn't lock horns directly back then, the North London rivalry was turned up a notch following a bizarre incident that we have never seen the like of since.
Back then, Spurs held the advantage in the race for Europe, going into the final day of the Premier League season a point ahead of their North London rivals and well aware three points would guarantee a first-ever Champions League campaign. However, a matter of hours before Tottenham would take on West Ham at Upton Park, disaster would strike.
Several of the Spurs squad would select lasagne for their dinner and the consequences would be catastrophic. The dish derailed Tottenham's Premier League campaign as food poisoning swept through the Spurs squad and caused chaos.
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The likes of Edgar Davids, Paul Robinson, Aaron Lennon, Michael Carrick and Robbie Keane were among the Tottenham contingent struck down by the sickness and left desperately dashing for the nearest loo. Martin Jol's makeshift Spurs side would go on to suffer a damaging 2-1 defeat to the Hammers while Arsenal's exploited Tottenham's turmoil by beating Wigan 4-2 to snatch Champions League qualification at their bitter rivals' expense.
Amid theories of sabotage by some associated with the Gunners, Tottenham were left livid at the turn of events. However, while some of the Spurs ranks were left spitting feathers at the damage done by the dish, not all were in agreement.
The unaffected Andy Reid, who was substituted on for a struggling Michael Carrick, told the Broken Metatarsal Podcast: "If it was a coincidence then it was a hell of a coincidence. I know at the time it was taken very, very seriously.
"You don’t want to make excuses but because of that game we didn’t qualify for the Champions League. There was a hell of a lot riding on it financially, for the club, for the players, and also the prestige of playing in the Champions League."
But while Reid and many others of a Spurs persuasion will forever rue the repercussions the lethal lasagna had on the club's hope of embarking on a European adventure, one of the Irish international's team-mates insisted the episode was vastly "exaggerated". Former Tottenham player Johnnie Jackson admitted in a 2011 interview: “The only one who I remember actually played the game who was struggling was Michael Carrick – I think he had to come off in the end.
"But they ended up losing it and missing out on the fourth and I think they made more of a deal of it than it actually was. There were some great stories going about like the chef was an Arsenal fan. I am not so sure about that.”
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