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4 greatest club rivalries in the Premier League in the last 20 years

The Premier League is the best football league in the world
The Premier League is the best football league in the world
Subhadeep Roy

The English Premier League is one of the best and most competitive football leagues in the world. It attracts the finest footballers from all over the globe, and also happen to be the most lucrative league financially. Spain’s LaLiga also has big clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, but the Premier League is better in terms of overall competition.

Five different clubs have won the Premier League in the last 20 years and two others have come very close to doing so on a few occasions. Even a smaller club like Leicester City won the Premier League in the 2015-16 season.

Quite understandably, there have been some great rivalries among the Premier League clubs in the last 20 years. Let's have a look at these rivalries.


#4 Manchester United vs Arsenal

There's no love lost between Manchester United and Arsenal
There's no love lost between Manchester United and Arsenal

United dominated the Premier League under the peerless Sir Alex Ferguson in the early and mid-1990s. They won the league six times during that decade and virtually had a monopoly in English football. However, Arsene Wenger’s appointment as the Arsenal manager in 1996 turned the tide somewhat, and Arsenal became United’s arch-rival in the early to mid-2000s.

Arsenal and United shared the league title among themselves in 7 years from 1998 to 2004. They managed to win the title thrice during that period and challenged United’s dominance to a great extent.

Both the teams had some world-class players in their respective squads. United had the likes of Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, whereas Arsenal boasted of the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg.

The infamous tunnel fight between Keane and Vieira and Martin Keown’s shouting at Ruud Van Nistelrooy, after the latter had missed a penalty, were only some of the components of the United-Arsenal rivalry, which captured the imagination of football lovers worldwide. The Gunners broke the Red Devils' hegemony by winning the league title in 1997-98.

However, United won four successive Premier League titles from 1998-99 to 2002-03 and seemed to have decisively won the battle, but the Londoners came back strongly in 2003-04 to win the title without losing a single match.

But, Arsenal’s decline started in the late 2000s, and their rivalry with United lost its sheen as a result.

#3 Manchester United vs Chelsea

Chelsea replaced Arsenal as Manchester United's main rivals in the mid-2000s
Chelsea replaced Arsenal as Manchester United's main rivals in the mid-2000s

Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with FC Porto in 2004 and was subsequently appointed as the Chelsea manager. He also signed a number of players like Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba, Paulo Ferreira and Michael Essien to build a strong team at Chelsea. Together, they won successive league titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and also beat Ferguson’s Manchester United on quite a few occasions.

Chelsea replaced Arsenal as United’s main rival in the mid-2000s and emerged as a big club in English as well as world football. However, United came back strongly to win 4 successive league titles from 2006-07 to 2010-11.

The Red Devils were now bolstered by the arrival of young and exciting players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, and started ruling English football again. They also won the won the UEFA Champions League in 2008. Meanwhile, Mourinho left Chelsea for Inter Milan in 2008.

#2 Manchester United vs Manchester City

Manchester United are facing a tough challenge in toppling their cross-town rivals in the EPL
Manchester United are facing a tough challenge in toppling their cross-town rivals in the EPL

Manchester City, who were termed as “Noisy Neighbours” by the United faithful, emerged as a strong team in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Italian manager Roberto Mancini signed some young and talented players like Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart, David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi to usher in a new era at the Etihad.

The blue half of Manchester became vibrant again as City won the league title in 2011-12. They also clobbered United 6-1 in a league match in 2011, which remains the heaviest defeat the Red Devils have suffered under Ferguson.

United had managed to win the league title in the 2012-13 season, which was also meant to be their last under Sir Alex Ferguson. The great man left on a winning note, but United have not been able to win the league title since then and have appointed 4 managers in the last 5 years.

#1 Manchester City vs Liverpool

Manchester City vs Liverpool is the new-age rivalry in the Premier League
Manchester City vs Liverpool is the new-age rivalry in the Premier League

German manager Jurgen Klopp was appointed the Liverpool manager in 2015 amid a lot of expectations and he has not let the Anfield faithful down since then. He has made Liverpool a happening club again, as they finished runners-up in last season’s UEFA Champions League.

Klopp has signed some great players like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Andrew Roberston to build a very strong team at Liverpool.

However, City have also proven to be equal to the task, appointing Pep Guardiola as their manager in 2016. Guardiola won the Premier League in 2017-18 with a record margin and is currently in the process of building his legacy at City with players like Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, David Silva and John Stones.

Liverpool and City are at the 1st and 2nd positions respectively in the league table at the moment, and their rivalry is in full swing currently.

Although City won the Premier League quite comfortably last year, they were thumped 4-1 by Liverpool in their encounter at Anfield. The Merseysiders also beat the Cityzens in the Champions League semi-final comfortably.

However, City beat Liverpool in a league match this season to exact their revenge somewhat. The spectators can definitely hope to keep enjoying this rivalry for next the few seasons at least.

Edited by Atharva Gosavi

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