Football is a sport that thrives on rivalries. Teams that are close geographically or have competed for many years against one another have the most fierce rivalries, but it’s important to remember this week that even through the hatred that fans have for their opposite numbers, they can still come together when they need to do something.
Fans around the United Kingdom joined forces this week to knock plans of a European Super League on the head, which saw the unusual circumstance of Manchester United and Liverpool fans standing on the same side. But, what are their biggest rivalries in English football?
Manchester United vs Liverpool
It would come as no surprise that the biggest rivalry in English football centres around the two biggest clubs in the country. United and Liverpool have won the most league titles, while they are also two of the English clubs that have won European Cups. The rivalry between the sides is as strong in the modern-day as it has ever been, but it is also a rivalry that is united on tragedy.
The Munich Air Disaster and the Hillsborough disaster are monumental moments in history for both clubs, and beneath all the hatred, there is rooted mutual respect between the two giants of the English game. Despite the resurgence of Manchester City, every United and Liverpool fan would still admit that their fixture is the one that they look to first when the fixture list is released every season.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
The North London derby is the biggest to take place in the capital every season. A fierce rivalry between Spurs and Arsenal was born when the Gunners moved to North London in 1913. Arsenal’s move was seen as a direct threat to the territory that Spurs have called home throughout their history. Since the move, the animosity between the fans has only increased with every season.
The two sides are often in direct competition for places in the Champions League, and there has been a notable shift over recent years, as Tottenham finished above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years in the 2016-17 season. Despite the fact that neither side have won the league for the past 17 years, the hatred is still clear to see. The biggest example of that came in 2001 when Sol Campbell crossed the divide to join Arsenal, and was labelled ‘Judas’ for the rest of his career.
Newcastle vs Sunderland
Despite the fact that Newcastle and Sunderland now find themselves in two separate divisions, the Tyne-Wear derby remains one of the fiercest in English football. There are just ten miles separating the two sides, and the passion on both sides of the divide is clear for all to see on derby day.
One of the factors that separate this derby from others is the intensity that comes with it, as it often creates divides in families. The first match between the rivals was played in 1888, and since then, they have played on 154 occasions. Newcastle holds a very narrow advantage, as they have won 53 times compared to the 51 wins recorded by Sunderland. It has been five years since the last Tyne-Wear derby, and football fans as a whole would be looking forward to seeing the two rivals clash sooner rather than later.