Having watched both the North London and North West derbies in the last three days, it is quite clear that the latter is more explosive no matter the form of the teams.
These two derbies between Manchester United/Liverpool and Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur are without question the two most hostile in England, but the fixture that took place this weekend definitely takes the cake over the other.
Many critics will say that the importance of the competition makes the difference in the atmospheres, however, the point that these pundits need to take into effect is that the hatred for a rival trumps over the significance of the contest.
Another point to mute these detractors, is that the Carling Cup is now being seen as viable competition – as we saw by the strength of the teams selected by the Premier League bosses.
United defeated their most-despised nemesis 3-2 in clinical, dominating fashion, which all but eliminated Liverpool’s Barclays Premier League title hopes, while the Arsenal kids punished Tottenham 4-1 in the Carling Cup.
Both results were the correct ones as the better teams won their respective derby matches.
All the teams involved used their best-available players, but, even though the match went to added extra time, Tottenham laid over and did not really offer up any stern resistance against their arch-enemy.
The results could have been similar if United kept their foot on the pedal and took their chances, or, on the other hand, if Arsenal were not given two penalties within six minutes of the start of extra time by very careless Spurs’ defending it could have been decided by a lone goal.
The distaste amongst the fans is obvious and mutual, so it cannot be brought into this argument.
However, the emotions and pure dislike between the players for United and Liverpool players seems to be far greater than it is between the Spurs and Gunners.
Its not that anyone of them disrespect each other, because off-the-field they could very well be best of friends, but they allow feelings from the fans gets into their veins and enjoy the hotly-contested match that much more.
This could be down to a couple of things: success and/or the foreign influx of players.
Let’s face it, success breeds animosity and jealousy. Based on pure principle, United supporters would rather have any other team – well, besides, maybe, Manchester City – win the league than Liverpool.
However, neither Tottenham or Arsenal have been successful in the last five years – unless you consider a top-four finish as the pinnacle for your club come season’s end – and have not put a serious challenge for the league since 2003/04.
The only piece of silverware that has been won by either club has the Carling Cup and that was by Spurs in the 2007 season – and during that triumph Tottenham destroy Arsenal 5-1.
Meanwhile, during that same time span, United and Liverpool have combined for two UEFA Champions League, three Premier League titles, three Carling Cups an FA Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup and four FA Community Shields.
To add it all up, the North West Derby triumphs over the North London by a total of 15-1.
Arsenal has a lot of young players who do not really understand the significance of an English derby, because most of them are from a different country.
At United, when Sir Alex Ferguson brings a player into the club, he sits them all down and teaches them about the turbulent history of the club.
Liverpool more than likely does the same – or at least know that they have a manager that respects the English game – they will get back to preaching the success the club once had.
Knowledge is power, and they will be well aware of what is expected by not only the manager, but the fans as well.
Whether Arsene Wenger does the same or not, is still out to the jury, but during his tenure he has never had a real solid core of English-born players.
A few here and there, but most of them have been from his native land, France, because those are the type of players he can best use in his squad.
With the appointment of Harry Redknapp, Tottenham have gone back to the basics are started bringing in a majority of English players – despite the new 25-man squad rule by the Premier League – which has been evident with the amount players they have had in the national team.
Redknapp, though, comes from a similar mold to Ferguson and Roy Hodgson, because he played in the golden ages when playing for your club meant everything.
Watching from a distance, Wenger does not appear to ave that same mindset, which could be why that a lot of the British managers in the Premier League do not get on well with him.
This is evident by the way the Arsenal players celebrated. Yes, there was enjoyment and excitement, but there was no real difference between how they celebrated against Tottenham or any other club.
A player should want to score against their arch-rival more, because it makes them an instant icon or a villain – just ask Diego Forlan – as the Uruguayan still hears his name sung around Old Trafford and Anfield.
Forlan, admittedly, did not understand the significance of his goals until Gary Neville, who is a life-long United supporter, said to him, “They will never forget you for this.”
Manchester United / Liverpool matches are, without question, the best in England, and can only rivaled by a select few derbies in all of the lands.