Which of the Premier League’s fiercest derbies is the most entertaining?

Wayne Rooney celebrates overhead kick vs Man City in 2011
Wayne Rooney scored one of the most iconic derby goals against Manchester City in 2011

The Premier League is home to some of the world’s biggest sporting rivalries – but which local derby is the most entertaining?

This weekend offers a mouth-watering schedule as Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham on Saturday, before Manchester City take on Manchester United on Sunday.

Both derbies have a history of drama – from last-minute title swings and iconic goals, to unforgettable red cards and high-scoring encounters.

Supporters of those clubs just want to win, but for the neutral, ‘derby day’ often tees up plenty of entertainment.

But which of the Premier League’s derbies has delivered the most so far?

If you want goals, go to north London

There is a derby winner if goals are what you are after.

Arsenal and Tottenham have met 60 times in the Premier League and played out the highest-scoring derby in 2004 when the Gunners won 5-4 at White Hart Lane.

It also has the highest rate of goals per game (2.85), though the Manchester teams and Newcastle v Sunderland have good numbers with 2.76 and 2.5 respectively.

Derby PL games played Goals scored Goals per game
Arsenal & Tottenham 60 171 2.85
Everton & Liverpool 61 138 2.26
Man City & Man Utd 50 138 2.76
Newcastle & Sunderland 28 71 2.5
Aston Villa & Birmingham 14 32 2.28

In the last decade of the competition, only two games have featured more than nine goals – West Brom’s 5-5 draw with Manchester United, and Arsenal beating Newcastle 7-3.

The north London derby has delivered 171 goals in total, which is 31 more than any other rivalry. The Merseyside and Manchester derbies are the closest competitors with 138.

Elsewhere, Bradford-Leeds has featured 15 goals in only four Premier League matches, and there is a 3.5 goals per game ratio between Wolves and West Brom from six encounters.

And despite not being the biggest of London derbies, Chelsea v West Ham has had 53 goals in 138 total games, while Chelsea v Tottenham has had 61 goals in 167 meetings.

Who do you want up front?

Shola Ameobi scoring against Sunderland for Newcastle
Shola Ameobi was nicknamed the “Mackem Slayer” by Newcastle fans

Scoring regularly against your local rivals usually gives you legendary status and Tottenham’s Harry Kane has done it 13 times in the Premier League.

He is comfortably the highest scorer in Premier League derbies, but ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and former Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi certainly made their mark too.

Liverpool-born Gerrard scored nine against Everton in the league, including a hat-trick at Anfield in 2012. The only opponent against whom he scored more goals was the team he now manages – Aston Villa (12).

Meanwhile, Ameobi became affectionately known as “The Mackem Slayer” for his impressive seven goals from 16 appearances against Sunderland. He scored two and provided assists for two more in the Magpies’ 5-1 win in 2010.

The Manchester clubs have shared the spoils with former United striker Wayne Rooney scoring the same amount as City’s legendary goalscorer Sergio Aguero (eight).

West Brom and Wolves have only met six times in the Premier League but Peter Odemwingie scored four goals for the Baggies against their rivals.

Late winners and ‘Fergie time’

Is there a greater feeling in football than winning with a goal in stoppage time against your rivals?

There has been plenty of those moments in the Premier League – Robin van Persie’s free-kick against Manchester City in 2012 for example, or Divock Origi’s comedic winner over Everton in the 96th minute in 2018.

Manchester United were renowned for scoring late under long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with opposition fans even naming those extended spells beyond the 90th minute as “Fergie time”.

It may come as no surprise that the Manchester derby is from where the highest number of stoppage-time goals have come.

In 50 meetings between the clubs in the Premier League, 12 goals have been scored in the 90th minute or later.

The Merseyside derby has delivered nine, while despite the north London derby producing the most goals, only six of those have come in added time.

The Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland has had four late goals in 28 games.

Red cards and penalty drama

Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor was sent off against former club Arsenal while playing for Spurs in 2012

Is it a proper derby if there has not been countless red cards and controversial penalty decisions?

Emotions often spill over in derby matches but a crunching late tackle or a silly reaction can get you in trouble.

There is absolutely no doubt the Merseyside derby is fiercely contested and the 22 red cards in that fixture is comfortably the highest.

Newcastle and Sunderland have had their share of drama, with six sendings-off in 28 meetings, two fewer than the number in Manchester derbies.

Derby fixture Red cards Penalties awarded Penalties scored
Everton & Liverpool 22 13 10
Arsenal & Tottenham 15 23 21
Newcastle & Sunderland 6 11 9
Man City & Man Utd 8 8 6
Aston Villa & Birmingham 2 1 1

There has only been two red cards between Aston Villa and Birmingham in 14 meetings, while the north London derby has the second highest number with 15.

And often, offences have led to a penalty.

But it is in north London where the most spot-kicks have taken place – a huge number of 23 have been awarded and 21 scored.

They are common in the north east too, as 11 penalties have been awarded between Newcastle and Sunderland – more than one in every three meetings.

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