When it comes to pure passion for the beautiful game, dedicated English Premier League fans are a stark reminder that there is a thin line between being a “fan” and being a “fanatic,” and that that line was erased a very long time ago in England. EPL fans live and die with each spectacular goal and every heartbreaking loss with a zealous flair, and glancing around the globe you’ll be hard-pressed to find supporters as in tune with the day-in and day-out struggles and triumphs of their squads. To start off the year, four of this league’s most heralded clubs are set to take to the pitch to go toe-to-toe against bitter rivals in, if history is any precedent, what are some of the most hotly-contested and intense matchups in all of sports. Here’s a bit of a primer and a preview of these January showdowns you surely don’t want to miss.
Taking into account that these two clubs have been battling for 117 years, have won over 50 major trophies each, and are two of the most widely-supported football clubs throughout the entire world, it’s safe to say that the “North West Derby” has a right to claim the top spot as the most celebrated showdown in English football. The Reds and the Red Devils both claim the title of 'the Greatest English Football Club', though the official mark has Manchester leading the overall series (73-51-62), and they have a slim lead in their last six meetings (3-1-2).
Both teams have had their respective glory days, as Liverpool was king from 1973 to 1990, having hoisted 11 league championships and four European Cups. Manchester United, on the other hand, has been the dominant force in the league since 1993, having claimed 12 league championships and two European Cups themselves. Their respective histories of success only adds flavor to what would already be an extraordinarily entertaining matchup, and all you need to prove it is to look at their forward positions, which feature two of the league’s most sensational strikers in Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez.
With a seven point cushion over second place Manchester City, Manchester United leads the Premier League with 52 points, and much of the credit deserves to go to Van Persie. The Red Devils picked up the global superstar from Arsenal in 2012, and his addition has helped them skyrocket to the top of the Premier League once again, averaging 2.48 points per match. The Dutch national is perched atop the league with 16 goals on the season, and he’s added nine assists along the way. Fellow forwards Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney have lived up to their high expectations as well, notching eight goals and seven goals apiece, respectively.
On the Liverpool end, things aren’t going quite as well, but they’re certainly on the upswing. The Reds have climbed into 8th place with 31 points, and they’ve won five of their last seven matches, including back-to-back 3-0 victories over Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland. Forward Luis Suarez is on his own goal-scoring binge, having notched 15 of his own to stand at second overall in the league, and the inimitable Steven Gerrard has held up his end of the bargain with eight assists and four goals so far. Liverpool’s recent white-hot play and the legendary intensity of this rivalry assures it will be a marvelous matchup, so make sure to claim your Manchester United vs Liverpool FC tickets to see this historic fixture live. Here’s a sample of the action to come:
The history of this rivalry gained steam much later than the Manchester versus Liverpool showstopper, but as of late, the battle to be London’s finest has raged on just as intensely. Chelsea and Arsenal have both made indelible marks on the EPL in recent history, with the Blues winning the league in 2010 and the UEFA Champions League in 2012, while Arsenal claimed the EPL in 2004 and the FA Cup in 2005. With legendary players like Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba paving the path to success for each squad, it’s no shock that both feel that they are the best in the city, and that competitive flame has made the epic clashes between the Blues and the Gunners must-see events. Overall, Arsenal are edging Chelsea in wins with 70 to Chelsea's 54, and there are 52 draws between them.
Chelsea is currently standing in third place with overall 38 points, just one behind Tottenham Hotspur and seven behind Manchester United. Rafael Benitez's team has scored 39 goals this season and has won four of their last five matches with strong play on both the offensive and defensive sides, and the great thing for Blues fans is that they will be adding the former Newcastle forward Demba Ba via transfer. Ba has scored 13 goals this season, which places him third overall in the league. Add his prowess to an already formidable front line featuring the dynamic duo of proven strikers Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, who, before Ba’s transfer, led Chelsea with 7 goals each, and the Blues will have plenty of punch to take the win.
Arsenal is coming into the game with 34 points on the season, which has them just on the outside in sixth place. Thankfully for Gunners fans, they’re only four points behind Chelsea and the squad can change their fate in just one game. Arsenal struggled in November and early December, but since then Arsene Wenger's club has found new life and they have snatched four of their last five matches, which includes one draw against Wigan. With only 22 goals allowed in 20 matches played, the Gunners are currently standing tall as the fourth best defense in the Premier League, and they have Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla lead the way in both goals and assists, notching eight and six and seven and five each, respectively. It will surely be a classic at Stamford Bridge, so make sure to get your hands on Chelsea vs. Arsenal tickets today and you can be witness to history in the making, like this: