Belfast Telegraph

Britain’s best football rivalries: who really wins?

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Ask any fan of a team who plays in one of football’s big derbies and they’ll fervently defend their beloved club; with feelings so partisan and stakes so high it often seems impossible to distinguish between the likes of Rangers and Celtic, Arsenal and Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton, or Manchester City and Manchester United.

But new research by HotelClub has shed light on the UK’s greatest football rivalries, so we can really see who’s coming out on top. HotelClub, who help football fans see their favourite teams by finding them accommodation in and around Britain’s big cities (from hotels in Belfast, including the Culloden hotel in Belfast, for the Glentoran vs. Linfield derby, to London hotels for the North London derby and accommodation in Liverpool for the Merseyside derby) have detailed the last 20 years of fixtures between Britain’s top clubs, making it easy to see who’s actually the best.

Arsenal vs. Tottenham

Easy. Has to be Arsenal right? They’ve won the double twice, they won the League without losing a game.

And Tottenham? Perennial underachievers, though they now look to have overtaken Arsenal as North London’s best side – as well as London’s in general, sitting two places above Chelsea.

But Arsenal edge it. Over the last twenty games: Arsenal has won eight games to Spurs’s four, scoring 43 goals to 34.

That said, Arsenal have only managed two consecutive wins in the tie – so it might be a lot closer, despite various personnel changes and circumstances, than the dominance of Arsenal under Wenger might imply.

Result: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham. Despite the seeming dominance of Wenger’s men, their lack of a consecutive win record stops this being a thrashing. The resurgence of Tottenham under Redknapp and the decline of Wenger’s men in recent times gets Spurs a goal back.

Celtic vs. Rangers

It doesn’t get much bigger than the Old Firm Derby, played between Glasgow and Scotland’s two big teams. Fiercely partisan, these ties are the highlight of Scottish football’s sporting calendar – and is one of the most important and iconic football derbies in the world.

But which team really reigns as king of Glasgow?

As you’d expect: honours even. In the last twenty matches, they’ve won eight games apiece, and Ranger have scored just one more goal, with 26.

Between these two football powerhouses the debate will rage, probably until football ends. Which it never will, if we can help it.

Winners: Celtic 3-3 Rangers. Not a thing between them. But both pack a punch, in this heavyweight encounter.

Everton vs. Liverpool

Until the end of last season Liverpool was the most successful team in the English league, winning 18 titles. Now, having not won the trophy for more than 20 years, they’re the sleeping giant of English football.

Everton, in the mean time, are a little like Spurs: always a threat but also an underachiever, enjoying short periods of dominance. The Everton team that won two league titles in three years, in 1985 and 1987, was a classic: but Everton have done little since. Adding the FA Cup in 1995, it wasn’t until David Moyes took the helm that the club’s fortunes were revived.

The same could be said, of course, of Rafa Benitez and Liverpool. While the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup came under Gerard Houllier, it wasn’t until 2005, when Liverpool won their 5th European Cup, that the good times really seemed to be back at Anfield. But the League title still eludes them, and the club, back under the management of Kenny Dalglish, the last manager to guide the club to a League title, is in a period of rebuilding.

Still, Liverpool are giants of world football, and they comprehensively beat their neighbours across the last 20 games: they’ve won eleven to Everton’s four, as well as managing three consecutive victories.

Winners: Everton 1-4 Liverpool. Despite early efforts, Everton can’t quite put up a fight, and Liverpool’s dominance over the tie, plus domestic and European honours, is clear.

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