Derby Day Clashes
This Sunday sees the second Manchester derby of the season which also happens to be 1st vs 2nd in the Premier League. United, however, are closer to 8th than they are to City at the top of the tree and will have Champions League football on the agenda as oppose to mounting any serious title challenge.
The blue half of Manchester will be keen to derail their rivals’ top four pursuit, whilst their counterparts in Salford will be hoping to end City’s record-breaking winning run.
We look forward to a bit more entertainment than the first instalment at Old Trafford, which shouldn’t be too difficult to manage, with two world class goalkeepers Ederson and David De Gea (or Dean Henderson should rumours be true of De Gea’s continued absence) tasked with keeping two potent attacking forces at bay.
In anticipation of this battle of wits, we are having our own derby of goalkeepers, paying homage to some excellent derby day performances across some of the fiercest rivals in the country.
Manchester United - David De Gea 2019/20 (League Cup)
Manchester City - Carlo Nash 2002/03
The formerly noisy neighbours have taken over the whole street, with Manchester City undoubtedly the most dominant team in Manchester since at least 2014. This is reflected in the recent results of the Manchester derby, but old rulers of the city have not been without their moments.
Manchester City are one game away from winning yet another League Cup, but last year it could have been very different after United pushed them close in a two-legged semi-final. Guardiola’s men had run out comfortable 3-1 winners in the first leg at Old Trafford but were kept at bay by man of the match, David De Gea in the return fixture at the Etihad. Matic’s first half goal had City hearts in mouths, but the holders of the League Cup were dominant throughout and produced save after save from De Gea, who we hope will be available for Sunday.
The 2002/03 season was a very different landscape for football in Manchester, with United winning their eight Premier League title and City enjoying their first back in the topflight after promotion the previous season. However, City would have the bragging rights in the derby, thrashing Alex Ferguson’s side 3-1 at Maine Road before earning a point at Old Trafford. Peter Schmeichel was injured in the warmup before the game at his old stomping ground and had to be replaced by Carlo Nash. United were ahead early on through Ruud Van Nistelrooy to compound Kevin Keegan’s woes. Nash was superb in the City fightback and kept the Reds at bay and as his side marched forward, was almost a sweeper at times. Shaun Goater equalised.
Sunderland - Thomas Sorensen 2000/01
Newcastle United - Shay Given 2001/02
Arguably the most passionate rivalry in English football, the North East derby has not been played since 2016, although depending on opposite trajectory of both sides, could see its first instalment in half a decade next season.
Sunderland have been dominant in the fixture in more recent times, unbeaten in the last nine, but the overall record is close between the two.
Despite the Black Cat’s supremacy in derby matches from the 2010’s our Sunderland candidate is from October 2000. Thomas Sorensen was the hero in a 2-1 victory at St James’ Park, saving a late penalty from none other than Alan Shearer to seal the win, as well as keeping his side in the early stages of the match in which Sunderland had to battle back from a goal down. Sunderland went onto finish 7th in the Premier League and once again hold the title of being the top dogs in the North East.
The season after saw the beginning of a spell of Newcastle reining supreme in the region and Shay Given’s excellent performance at the Stadium of Light in April 2002. The Irishman pulled off an acrobatic save as Kevin Phillip’s shot curled towards the top corner, with the Magpies running out 1-0 winners. Given, the former Sunderland loanee, was one of the most highly rated goalkeepers in the country at the time and went onto have a good World Cup with Ireland in the summer.
Aston Villa - Brad Friedel 2009/10
Birmingham City - Ben Foster 2010/11
The second-city derby is always a red-hot atmosphere and has never been short of controversial moments, none more so than the last time the teams met when a Birmingham City fan ran onto the pitch to sneak up behind Jack Grealish, the scorer of the winning goal, punching him in the back of the head.
One of the most prosperous seasons for both sides in recent times was the 2009/10 season, with Villa finishing 5th and Birmingham 9th, but the side from Aston ran out 1-0 winners in both meetings. The game in the April 2010 was a tightly contested affair with Birmingham frustrated when met with Brad Friedel in formidable form in the Villa goal, producing fantastic saves from Sebastian Larsson’s effort and denying Cameron Jerome by coming out of his goal athletically. Not bad for a thirty-nine-year-old.
The following campaign was a funny old one for both. Villa finished in the bottom half after three consecutive 5th place finishes and City lifted their first ever major trophy in the Carling Cup (beating Villa in the quarter finals) but were relegated from the Premier League. However, they didn’t start the season too badly and Ben Foster was part of a fantastic defensive display in a goalless draw with Gerard Houllier’s side on Halloween of 2010. Foster produced a fine save from a long-range Barry Bannan effort and then was left with a bloodied nose as a battle scar after bravely challenging John Carew in the air with a few minutes remaining.
Liverpool - Pepe Reina 2009/10
Everton - Jordan Pickford 2020/21
Just two weeks have passed since the last clash between the Merseyside heavyweights and the Blue side of the city will still be smiling after their first win at Anfield for more than two decades.
Jordan Pickford has received his fair share of criticism in recent seasons and Anfield was the venue for perhaps his darkest moment in football when inexplicably dropping the ball straight onto Dirvock Origi’s head to bounce into the net in injury time a few years ago. Credit where its due, he was excellent in the 1-0 win. A strike from compatriot and fellow product of Sunderland’s youth set-up, Jordan Henderson, unleashed a fierce effort which the England goalkeeper met with equal power from his fingertips. Pickford was assured coming out of his goal, something he has been accused of lacking, vitally blocking Mo Salah late in the game.
Pepe Reina was a bit of a maverick and was equally likely to have a rush of blood to the head as he was to play an absolute blinder, and he had his fair share of both. One of the latter was in a 2-0 win at Goodison Park in November 2009 where he was outstanding as Everton spurned chance after chance in Liverpool’s fortuitus victory. His double save from Tim Cahill’s header and Marouane Fellaini’s follow up is one surely one of the greatest in the long history of the fixture.