The sheer amount of derbies and rivalries in the Premier League makes it the best league in the world. There is a lot more depending on these games than just bragging rights. The tension, excitement, nervousness, fear, joy, and every emotion is felt with such high-octane games.
The Premier League is blessed to have so many rivalries and derbies, thanks to their millions of fans around the world as well. Every passing season has made the rivalries even fiercer than the last season.
So which are the biggest derbies and rivalries in the Premier League?
1. Liverpool vs Manchester United
Rivalries are subjective matters, and every fan has their own opinion on which is the biggest rivalry. Liverpool vs Manchester United is the fiercest rivalry in the Premier League, hands down. The success on and off the field of both clubs is unrivalled, and these two are the most successful clubs in England.
Liverpool was a dominant force in the 70s and 80s, and that dominance gave birth to one of Alex Ferguson’s most iconic quotes when he once said that he wanted to knock Liverpool off their *beeping* perch, and so he did.
Manchester United dominated the Premier League in the 90s and 00s. Liverpool’s 18 league titles were a record in English football that was broken by Ferguson’s United, and now they sit with a record haul of 20 league titles. But Liverpool sits pretty with their European dominance, though, as they have 13 European trophies in comparison to United’s 6.
Every league game is fierce between these two rivals. There have been 16 red cards since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 in this fixture, making it the dirtiest derby only behind the Merseyside derby.
There have been moments of quality and madness in these fixtures through the premier league years. Torres sitting Vidic down at OT, Murphy scoring back-to-back winners for Liverpool at OT, Mata’s scissors kick, Mascherano’s red card, Gerrard’s record 38-second red card, Klopp’s Liverpool thrashing United 7-0, Rio Ferdinand’s last min goal, Rafa’s infamous press conference, and so much more.
Liverpool vs Manchester United is one rivalry that will never see its flame go out. There is so much hatred and passion invested into it that it will keep going on and on for years to come.
2. Arsenal vs Manchester United
Another one of the most decorated rivalries. Most of the current crop grew up watching the classic Arsenal vs Manchester United games. Henry vs Ferdinand, Nistelrooy vs Keown and Campbell, Ashley Cole vs Beckham, there were some great duels and flashing points in these games but none more so than Viera vs Keane. Pure hatred.
The rivalry has simmered down a tad in the last decade due to both clubs going through a barren period, but the rivalry peaked in the late 90s to late 00s. The Wenger vs Ferguson era.
So many great memories from Nistelrooy missing a penalty to keep Arsenal’s unbeaten run going to Nistelrooy scoring a penalty to end Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run, Keane and Viera’s fights, Wenger getting sent off, United knocking Arsenal out of the Champions League on their way to winning the whole thing, 7 red cards in this fixture between 1997 to 2005, and so much more.
While being one of the biggest rivalries in world football and not just in the Premier League, both clubs are also incredibly successful. Manchester United has won a total of 67 trophies to Arsenal’s 47 trophies.
3. Chelsea vs Arsenal
We have never seen someone get under the skin of Arsene Wenger as much as Jose Mourinho did. If Viera vs Keane defined pure hatred between players, then Wenger vs Mourinho defined pure hatred between managers. Both hated each other with passion, and that is what made this tie even more exciting for fans to watch in the mid-2000s.
Jose Mourinho labelling Arsene Wenger as a “Specialist in failure’ title didn’t go down well with the Arsenal manager or their fans. It added fuel to the fire, Wenger also needed 13 games to finally beat Mourinho, and that too when Jose was in his 2nd spell at Chelsea.
The controversial Ashley Cole transfer to Chelsea from Arsenal didn’t help the rivalry either.
In the Premier League era, Chelsea has had quite an upper hand over Arsenal and not just in the league. Chelsea knocked Arsenal out of the 2003/04 Champions League, and they also beat Arsenal in the Europa League final in 2017 with a 4-1 scoreline.
Arsenal does have FA Cup and Community Shield victories over Chelsea, but overall the Blues have a better record against the Gunners.
Also, just to give Arsenal fans a nightmare – Didier Drogba.
4. Liverpool vs Everton
The dirtiest derby in Premier League’s history, the Merseyside derby has produced an incredible 21 red cars in just 30 years. As far as success goes, it is a lopsided derby in favour of Liverpool, while Everton would have to go back just before the Premier League era to find a successful period.
Apart from being a crazy rivalry on the field, it is also quite a mad rivalry off it too. Everton fans refuse to entertain anything “Red” in their homes while also refusing to light a “Red” Christmas tree, instead opting for a Blue Christmas tree. Crazy, isn’t it? But that’s how much the rivalry means to both sets of fans.
Liverpool fans meanwhile mocked Everton’s trophy drought by bringing a “21 Years” banner to Goodison in 2016 to taunt them.
The games have become less feisty in the recent past, with Richarlison being the last player to be sent off in 2020/21.
There have been some unreal games in the premier league between these two – McAllister’s last min free-kick goal, Mane’s last min goal at Goodison, Neville and Hibbert getting sent off in the same game for Everton, Jagielka’s screamer at Anfield, Gerrard getting substituted at Goodison for Lucas in a tense game, Everton’s 3-1 win in 2006 at Goodison, Origi’s last-second winner due to Pickford’s howler.
Liverpool vs Everton might have lacked quality sometimes, but they are always high-intensity games that are unmissable, even for a casual fan.
Also, Liverpool is the second most successful city in the UK for trophies won, Liverpool and Everton have a combined haul of 92 major trophies between them.
The two clubs have faced each other 291 times, with Liverpool coming out on top 123 times while Everton has won 83 times, and 85 games have ended in a draw.
5. Spurs vs Arsenal
The North-London derby. One of the most heated rivalries in England. Spurs hadn’t been particularly successful against Arsenal in the Premier League when you take into account the history of the North-London Derby, Arsenal has won 81 games and Spurs 61, with 51 games ending in a draw.
Arsenal winning the league at Spurs’ White Hart Line in 1971 was the spark that ignited the fire between the two clubs. The Sol Campbell saga just took the rivalry to another level. After weeks of denying that he would move to their direct rival, Campbell actually joined Arsenal and became a cult hero there!
There have been some classic games between the two – Arsenal’s 5-4 win at White Hart Lane in 2004, 4-4 draw at the Emirates in 2008, 3-3 draw at White Hart Lane, and so many more. Harry Kane tops the goalscoring charts in the North-London Derby with 14 goals, followed by Adebayor with ten goals.
Arsenal finished above Spurs for 22 consecutive years between 1995 to 2017 before Spurs eventually finished above their neighbours in 2018, and then they finished above their rivals for six consecutive seasons.
6. Manchester United vs Manchester City
The fixture is where both teams have dominated each other for an extended amount of time in the league. Manchester United absolutely dominated City in their derbies in the premier league era between 1992 to 2010 until the arrival of Sheikh Mansour and his riches.
The tide of the tie changed so suddenly that it made a typically unflustered Alex Ferguson go on a rant and label Manchester City as their “Noisy Neighbours”. City have dominated United for the better part of the last decade.
The games between the two are something else as well. The games between the sides have always been super fast, with both possession-based and counter-attacking tactics at play.
There have been some stunning games in the Manchester Derby, including City thrashing United 6-1 at Old Trafford in 2011, United winning a humdinger of a game 4-3 with Owen scoring the winner in the 96th min in 2009, City brushing aside United at the Etihad 4-1 and 6-3 in the last two years respectively.
Out of the 190 meetings between the two clubs, United have won 78 games to City’s 59 games, and 53 games have ended in a draw. The City of Manchester is also the most successful city in England when it comes to honours, with both clubs having won a combined 99 trophies.
Also, Mario Balotelli’s “Why Always Me” celebration in 2011 is one of the most iconic images not just in the Manchester Derby but for the whole Premier League.
7. Newcastle vs Sunderland
Tyne-Wear Derby is one of the most ill-mannered and ill-tempered fixtures both on and off the field in England. It is also one of the most balanced ties when it comes to competitive football. Newcastle and Sunderland have both won the fixture 53 times each while drawing 50 games.
The game is more than a football game, as both sets of fans have been arrested multiple times for hooliganism before and after the matches. Some of the Newcastle and Sunderland supporters were even arrested for creating a scene before an England qualifying game for the Euros! This fixture is a hot-headed affair both on and off the field.
Ever since Sunderland’s relegation to the championship, the Tyne-Wear Derby has taken a back seat, but in its heyday during the 2000s and early 2010s, the matches were crazy good. The games were not quality filled per se, but they were always on knife’s edge with so much riding on the game than just the bragging rights.
Some of the memorable games include Newcastle’s 5-1 win at St. James’ Park in 2010, Asamoah Gyan’s injury-time equaliser for Sunderland in the return fixture at the Stadium of Light, Di Canio’s second game in charge at Sunderland in 2013, ended up in a comprehensive 3-0 victory at St. James Park, Sunderland doing the double over Newcastle in 2014 which was their first since 1967.
Sunderland’s George Holley leads the goal tally by players in the Tyne-Wear Derby with 15 goals in all competitions, followed by Newcastle legend Jackie Milburn with 11 goals.
8. Aston Villa vs Birmingham
The Second City Derby. Another one of those rivalries which is as heated on the field as it is off it. Both the clubs have played each other 128 times, with Villa coming out on top in 57 games, while Birmingham has won 38 games, and 37 games have ended in a draw.
In the Premier League, Birmingham got promoted in 2002, and then they soundly did a double over their City rivals in their first season back. It took Villa three years to register their first win in the Premier League over Birmingham.
Villa also thrashed Birmingham 5-1 in 2008 in what was their biggest win in 40 years over their rivals. Almost all the matches were mired with crowd troubles before or after the game.
One of the most astonishing moments between the two sides took place in the championship in 2019, during the game at St. Andrews. A fan ran into the pitch and punched Aston Villa’s captain from behind. That game saw a winner from Grealish himself, and Villa won that game 1-0 and eventually got themselves promoted.
The Grealish incident was the last league game between the two sides, as Villa has been in the Premier League ever since, and Birmingham has been closer to going down to League one than getting promoted.
Aston Villa legend Bill Walker leads the scoring charts with 11 goals in the Second City Derby, followed by Birmingham’s own Joe Bradford with 8 goals.
These were some of the most fierce and intensely competitive derbies that we get to experience in the Premier League year in and year out, and there is no comparison with any other league when it comes to how heated these games are every time.