It’s derby weekend in the Premier League and the three clashes could have a huge impact on the top and bottom of the English top flight.
First up is a north London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday between Tottenham and Arsenal. An away win for the Gunners would reduce the gap on third-placed Spurs to just one point as the battle for the top four heats up.
Another top-four contender are Chelsea and on Sunday they travel across SW6 to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage. The Blues are currently in sixth place and will hope to claim three points against a struggling Fulham team that is 19th in the table.
Fulham have this week sacked Claudio Ranieri and named Scott Parker as caretaker manager. The 38-year-old Parker previously played for Chelsea and was signed by Ranieri when he was the boss at Stamford Bridge.
Also on Sunday is the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League table but will face a tough task against an Everton side looking to derail their rivals’s title ambitions.
Weekend derby fixtures
- Saturday 2 March: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)
- Sunday 3 March: Fulham vs. Chelsea (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports); Everton vs. Liverpool (4.15pm, live on Sky Sports)
Here we look at the Premier League’s biggest derby matches and also the pundit predictions for the weekend clashes.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal
Saturday 2 March, 12.30pm (live on BT Sport)
Paul Merson, Sky Sports: “I don’t think Tottenham are playing well, and the pressure is off Arsenal going into this. Tottenham have to draw this game otherwise they’re going to be pulled into the top four battle. Prediction: 2-2.”
Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport: “The Gunners come in to this game on the back of a couple of convincing home wins over Southampton and Bournemouth but they are always pretty strong at Emirates Stadium anyway. On the road, it is a different story and, taking that and and Spurs’ form into consideration, I think a draw is the most likely outcome – especially because this is a lunchtime game and they are usually pretty rubbish. Prediction: 1-1.”
Fulham vs. Chelsea
Sunday 3 March, 2.05pm (live on Sky Sports)
Paul Merson, Sky Sports: “Chelsea. How many? How many do you want? Chelsea have turned a corner, raised the bar and set an example. I expect them to go here and win this comfortably. These two are chalk and cheese. It looked like Fulham downed tools the other night, they didn’t look interested, and looked like a relegated team. If they play like that against Chelsea, who are far better than Southampton, it’s going to be a comfortable result. Prediction: 0-4.”
Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport: “Replacing the sacked Ranieri now really is the last throw of the dice, but Fulham must feel that someone with different ideas and a different voice can make a difference. Fulham have been so bad of late, they seem to get into a mess whatever their game plan is. If they attack them, and you have to think they will try, it will just play into Chelsea’s hands. Chelsea’s win over Tottenham was a good way for Maurizio Sarri’s side to answer their critics but what people forget is that they actually played well against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final too. I am expecting more of the same from Sarri’s side. Prediction: 0-2.”
Everton vs. Liverpool
Sunday 3 March, 4.15pm (live on Sky Sports)
Paul Merson, Sky Sports: “Massive, massive game. If Liverpool win, they’re ticking off a big game. It’s out of Man City’s hands at the moment, but as soon as Liverpool do drop points I think they’re in trouble. Watford was a banana skin, it looked a hard game, and they come out with a 5-0 win. That gives them a massive boost. What threat do Everton have? Man-for-man, there is no threat, but it’s Everton’s cup final. Liverpool have to get through this unscathed. Prediction: 1-2.”
Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport: “It is a difficult game for Liverpool because they are top of the league, going away to their local rivals, and they have got absolutely everything to lose. If Everton are gritty, and approach the game thinking they want to take a point at the very least, then I can see them getting some joy. Prediction: 1-1.”
Premier League derbies and rivalries
North London derby: Tottenham vs. Arsenal
After years of Arsenal domination and bragging rights the tide has recently turned in Tottenham’s favour. Spurs have finished above Arsenal for the past two seasons and are currently four points ahead of the Gunners.
However, Spurs have lost their last two Premier League matches and should Arsenal win at Wembley on Saturday the Gunners would reduce the gap on their third-placed rivals to just one point.
In its ranking of the top ten most exciting derbies in Britain, football magazine FourFourTwo places the north London clash as No.1.
Huw Davies writes: “The modern north London derby has everything: two teams fighting at the same level, background stories still unfolding for both clubs, tight contests, exotic talent and local stars.
“Above all, it has an endless capacity to surprise us. What more could you want from a derby?”
Merseyside derby: Everton vs. Liverpool
The Merseyside clubs are separated by less than a mile and a park. It was once known as the “friendly derby” as fans mixed in the stands and families were split by red or blue.
But FourFourTwo’s Huw Davies says you can forget the friendly “nonsense”. He writes: “Twice as many players are sent off in matches between Everton and Liverpool than in England’s other big rivalries.”
The Daily Telegraph agrees: “Maybe not the ‘friendly derby’ any more, but over the years Everton and Liverpool have shown they have more in common with each other than most rivals. There’s a certain respect there, and you sense that the relationship is defined more by irritation than hatred.”
Liverpool travel to Goodison as the Premier League leaders. Everton will look to dent their Liverpool’s title hopes with victory on Sunday.
West London derby: Fulham vs. Chelsea
Geographically speaking, a west London derby could be between Chelsea, Fulham, Brentford or Queens Park Rangers, but this season the latter two clubs are in the Championship.
For Chelsea a clash against Tottenham, Arsenal or West Ham would be considered bigger, but for Fulham supporters Sunday’s match is the big one.
The Cottagers Confidential blog on SB Nation says: “Both Fulham and QPR fans regard Chelsea as their main rival, each other as their secondary respectively, and then Brentford third. On hatred alone Chelsea would be the club’s biggest rival but rivalries boil down to so much more.
“Chelsea are the neighbours from SW6 and generally despised by the Fulham faithful. The fans of the Chelsea do not even consider us as a rival.
“In fact Chelsea fans did not list any of the trio from west London when asked. Instead considering Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool as the club’s main rivals.”
With Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Fulham playing in the Premier League this season there are plenty of London derbies to enjoy. There are rivalries across north, south, east and west London as well as cross-capital hatred. West Ham vs. Chelsea or Tottenham is always a tasty affair.
Red rivalry: Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Not so much a derby, more a hate-filled conflict. It’s fair to say that fans of both teams in red like nothing better than seeing their side win against the other.
Describing the “red rivalry”, the Daily Mirror says: “Let’s face it, it’s probably the Premier League game neutrals most look forward to each season. In fact, a match-up between the two giants of English football is so big, Sky Sports keep coming up with a new special hashtag every time they meet.”
Former United defender Gary Neville played in many matches against Liverpool and he said: “Manchester and Liverpool are obviously two very proud cities. The rivalry is great and the games should always be fought fiercely, with passion, with endeavour, with everything that rides on it.
“Throughout the history of this fixture there have been cup finals and semi-finals, games that have virtually decided title races, but the feeling remains unchanged even when there aren’t trophies riding on the outcome.”
Manchester derby: City vs. United
While some United fans would say their rivalry with Liverpool is bigger, the Manchester derby has again become one of the biggest clashes in English football. City’s rise to power has seen them win three titles – in 2012, 2014 and 2018 – and they are favourites for this season’s crown.
On City, former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously once said: “Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.”
Last year Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany told Sky Sports: “I kind of press pause when it’s a derby and the season doesn’t matter to me anymore, it’s all about the derby. Managers and players do like to downplay it, but I don’t care, it’s rubbish. The derby at that moment is the most important game in the world to me.”
The M23 derby: Crystal Palace vs. Brighton
This is a strange one as the two clubs are only connected by the motorway between south London and Sussex. But ask any Palace or Brighton fan which team they hate the most and the answer is the other.
The English Soccer Guide’s Paul Gerald says: “They’re not too close to each other, but they’ve played a lot, and sometime back in the 70s there was a thing between the Brighton manager and Palace fans, and things were thrown, and in 2013 they played in the playoffs, and somebody took a crap in the Palace locker room. I’m serious.”
Premier League fixtures
Saturday 2 March (3pm unless stated)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal (12.30pm, live on BT Sport)
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Manchester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Huddersfield Town
- Burnley vs. Crystal Palace
- Manchester United vs. Southampton
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Cardiff City
- West Ham United vs. Newcastle United (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 3 March
- Watford vs. Leicester City (12pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Fulham vs. Chelsea (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Everton vs. Liverpool (4.15pm, live on Sky Sports)