In the most recent Merseyside derby, Liverpool thrashed Everton 4-0. This got me thinking about derbies in English football and which ones are the greatest. Here are my top five.
In the oldest derby in the top-flight, Liverpool have always been the more dominant side. The Reds are unbeaten in the past 11 Premier League Merseyside derbies (W4 D7 L0). Wednesday was the 226th Merseyside derby and one of the most one-sided meetings between the two sides. Liverpool were not threatened by Everton at any point and bar the ankle injury to Divock Origi, the performance was almost perfect. Following Funes Mori’s awful tackle on Origi which rightly resulted in a red card, there have now been 21 red cards in the Merseyside derby in Premier League history, more than any other fixture (14 Everton, 7 Liverpool). Everton have not beaten Liverpool in 11 league matches. This equals their longest winless league streak in this fixture, since an 11-match run between 1979 and 1984. To compound the misery for Evertonians even further, their two heaviest Premier League Merseyside derby defeats have both been under Roberto Martinez and both at Anfield (4-0 in January 2014).
North London Derby
Tottenham last finished above Arsenal in the 1994/95 season. Putting that into context, I wasn’t born yet and Arsene Wenger wasn’t Arsenal manager. However, with the exception of a spectacular capitulation from Spurs, they will be finishing above Arsenal this season. North London’s biggest match is always full of goals, usually for Arsenal, so fans are never short of entertainment. There have been 137 goals scored in this fixture in the Premier League; more than any other fixture in the competition. One of Arsenal’s best triumphs in recent years was the 5-2 win at the Emirates in 2012. Not only did Spurs let a two goal lead slip, they were seven points clear of Arsenal and heading for a higher Premier League finish than the Gunners for the first time since 1995. This result altered the course of the season as Arsenal pipped Spurs to third place on the final day. The disappointment didn’t end there as Tottenham missed out on Champions League football due to Chelsea’s sensational triumph in Munich.
The Second City Derby
Aston Villa and Birmingham last played against each other in the Premier League in 2011. Now that Aston Villa’s relegation from the Premier League has been confirmed, they will face each other at least twice next season. The Midlands clubs met in the League Cup earlier on this season, when Villa were 1-0 winners. Villa have won the fixture 53 times, compared to Birmingham’s 38 wins. The other 31 matches have resulted in a draw. One of the most significant occurrences between these two sides in recent years was Alex McLeish. As if the rivalry wasn’t strong enough, the Scotsman resigned from Birmingham and became Aston Villa manager with immediate effect, all within the space of a week. He lasted less than 12 months at Villa Park which is hardly surprising.
Even though Manchester United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs believe that Liverpool are the club’s greatest rivals, the Manchester derby against Man City has given fans many special memories over the years. For years on end Manchester United have been the dominant force in this fixture, so much so that Sir Alex described Man City as the noisy neighbours. Wayne Rooney scored an amazing overhead kick against City in February 2011 which won the match for United and was voted the best goal in Premier League history. One of City’s best moments in the derby came in October 2011 when they annihilated United 6-1 . To make it even sweeter, the victory was at Old Trafford and United’s worst home defeat since February 1955. It was also the first time City had scored six in a Manchester derby since 1926.
This fixture means a great deal to fans in the North-East and has occurred 154 times. Before the 1-1 draw between the two sides last month at St James’ Park, Newcastle were on a six-match losing streak against their major rivals, going back to April 2013. The current Sunderland manager, Sam Allardyce had a spell in charge of Newcastle in the 2007-08 which was far from popular. One of these two sides will be relegated this season. It would rub salt into the wound for the Magpies if Sunderland and Allardyce stayed up whilst they fell to the Championship. Something tells me the next Tyne-Wear derby, in the Premier League at least, will not be for some time.