Ranking the 5 biggest player rivalries in Premier League history
The Premier League has seen some of the best players in the world show off their skills on the biggest stage. Since the league’s name change in the 1992-93 season, the Premier League has grown into a more global spectacle. It has attracted a lot of quality managers to the top teams, and with them, top quality players as well.
Since then, teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have been the mainstays of the first half of the table. The fierce competition for the Premier League title has forged intense individual rivalries. The league has seen rival players, managers, coaches and sometimes even fans clash in times of tension.
Part of that turned into battles throughout the career in terms of performance and stats, and who won more silverware. Meanwhile, there were players whose rivalry had an unsavory element. These players gave everything to their team, their managers and the badge they represented.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the five biggest player rivalries in Premier League history:
# 5 Petr Cech (Chelsea) v Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United)
Two of the greatest goalkeepers of their generation, Edwin van der Sar and Petr Cech, have enjoyed several years of Premier League success. They were always in direct competition for records and goalie awards. Both snipers were recruited to bolster the title credentials of their respective teams, and that’s exactly what they did.
In between, they’ve won eight Premier League titles, four of which each. They have both also won a UEFA Champions League title each. Van der Sar managed to win the FIFA Club World Cup with Manchester United in 2008, while Cech only has a runner-up medal in the competition with Chelsea in 2012.
The Czech, however, has won five FA Cups in his stints at Chelsea and Arsenal, while the Dutchman has won none. Cech also won a UEFA Europa League title with Chelsea in 2013.
Cech holds the Premier League record for most clean sheets in a single season, with 24. Meanwhile, Edwin van der Sar holds the Premier League record for most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, closing the store for 1311 minutes. Defenders in front of the pair also played a big part in this.
Petr Cech went on to make 443 Premier League appearances for Chelsea and Arsenal, keeping 202 clean sheets. Edwin van der Sar, meanwhile, has made 313 appearances for Fulham and Manchester United in the Premier League, keeping 132 clean sheets. Two of the greatest goalies the league has had the chance to witness!
# 4 Luis Suarez (Liverpool) v Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
Luis Suarez was one of the most exciting clutch strikers and clinics to set foot on English soil. The Uruguayan has scored 69 goals and assisted 51 others in 110 Premier League games during his time at Liverpool.
However, he had a bad streak and was infamous for using dirty methods of intimidation or distraction on the pitch. One such incident happened with Manchester United’s French left-back Patrice Evra.
Suarez is said to have used a racist term to address Evra as the two engaged in a heated conversation following an incident on the ground. Suarez was found guilty and received an eight-match suspension in 2011.
Patrice Evra, meanwhile, had different ways of coping in the aftermath of the incident. He celebrated right in front of Suarez as they made their way to the tunnel at the Stretford end of Old Trafford. His excuse was that he was just walking towards his fans.
However, the Frenchman delivered an important message a few years later as an expert that everyone should hear. Evra said he didn’t want Suarez banned, but instead would be told about his wrongdoing and educated about racism. He pointed out that we are all the same and that he does not see any color in people.
It is remarkable how graciously Evra handled the incident years later. This rivalry is a reminder to Premier League fans around the world that humanity must always come first, no matter what the stakes in a competition.