This weekend the Premier League fixture list has thrown up two appetising games on Sunday afternoon, as Manchester United’s home tie against Liverpool is followed by the North London Derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
One thing about derby rivalries (and I’m counting United v Liverpool as a derby, even though the former have another very prominent local rival) is that they provide something of a leveller. League position and form often goes out the window, and attrition takes over.
Often that will lead to a tense game between two teams afraid to lose, however these fixtures have recently seen some rather surprising outcomes. Below I go into detail about some of my favourites.
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, October 2008
Arsène Wenger’s side have had a habit of shooting themselves in the foot in the nine years since they last won a trophy (no, fourth place doesn’t count, and don’t even try to bring up the Emirates Cup). While few examples stand out more than the one-two punch in February 2011 when Arsenal surrendered a 4-0 lead to Newcastle in the league before losing a cup final to a goal scored by someone who came on as a substitute for Keith Fahey (I can’t stress this point enough), the midweek draw at home to Spurs runs it close.
After responding surprisingly competently to an early long-range strike from Spurs’ then record signing (!) David Bentley, the Gunners entered the 89th minute 4-2 in front and on course for a third straight win in the league. However against the might of a Spurs team who had started the game with two points and a Harry Redknapp catchphrase from their eight games, Arsenal somehow contrived to let Jermaine Jenas and then Aaron Lennon fire past Manuel Almunia to earn the visitors a point.
Arsenal proceeded to lose three of their next four league games, finishing the season some distance behind a runaway top three, and the following years would see Spurs move closer and closer to their neighbours in league form.
Could another thriller be on the cards? Seven goals or more is 30.00 with GR88.com
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United, March 2011
What’s your favourite Premier League hat-trick? Dennis Bergkamp’s sublime treble for Arsenal at Leicester? Shinji Kagawa’s effortless performance against Norwich last season? Maybe it was Robbie Fowler’s five-minute special back in 1994. Whatever you said, your answer probably wasn’t Dirk Kuyt against Manchester United in 2011.
Loved by Liverpool fans and perhaps underappreciated by opposition supporters, Dutch forward Kuyt was a master of perseverance and stick-to-itiveness long before his finest moment. A 31-minute hat-trick, none of the strikes coming from more than six yards out, represented a masterclass in the unremarkable and meant United’s title bid hit a stumbling block against a team whose substitutes included Peter Gulacsi, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Christian Poulsen, Jay Spearing and David Ngog.
A lot has changed in the intervening period, and indeed it is now the visitors that day whose midfield is a punchline to a joke that no one asked. What a difference three years makes.
Liverpool to win 3-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday is 21.00 with GR88.com
This weekend GR88.com’s Late Goal Refund means you don’t have to worry about a last-gasp goal ruining your bet. If a goal is scored in the 88th minute or later, all losing match result, last goalscorer or correct score bets which were winning before the goal went in will be refunded.
TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.