The most competitive matches in the Premier League are often 'Derby' matches. A 'derby' is a match between local rivals. i.e. teams that are from the same city or the same part of the country. These local games have a special place in the hearts of fans and players. Let's take a look at three of these passionate fixtures.
Derby = /dɑ:bi:/ (rhymes with Barbie)
The Merseyside Derby
The Merseyside Derby is played between Everton and Liverpool. It is called the Merseyside Derby after the River Mersey which flows through the city of Liverpool. The Merseyside Derby was first played in 1894 and has been played 221 times, with Liverpool winning 88 times and Everton 66 times. Everton and Liverpool football grounds are about 1 kilometre from each other and are the closest rival stadiums in the Premier League.
The Tyne and Wear Derby
This derby match is not between two teams from the same city like in Liverpool, but between two teams from cities that are very near each other in the North East of England: Newcastle and Sunderland. The derby between Newcastle Utd and Sunderland was first played in 1888. It has been played 143 times, with Sunderland winning 45 times and Newcastle 53. It is called The Tyne and Wear Derby after the rivers that flow through the cities: The Tyne (Newcastle) and The Wear (Sunderland).
The West Midlands Derby
Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion football clubs are only 4 miles (6.4 km) apart. Traditionally, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers are their strongest rivals. However, those clubs are not in the Premier League so this match has become more important in the battle for supremacy in the West Midlands. This match has been played 141 times, with Aston Villa winning 65 times and West Brom 45 times. The first league meeting between the two teams was in 1889.
Why are Derby matches so important?
Local pride is the main reason, fans of both clubs see each other at school, work and sometimes even in the same family every day. When your club has won it is much easier to go to school or work the day after the game to boast about your team's victory.
Derby matches are often very difficult to predict as they are usually played at a very fast pace with lots of tackles and fouls. The Merseyside Derby is the fixture with most red cards in Premier League history (20). In every derby match, you will see lots of passion from fans and players as two local rivals go head to head for victory.
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