As West Ham United prepare for a second London derby in as many weeks, with a third to follow soon after, they might take some solace from the fact that they’ve beaten Chelsea once or twice in recent years.
However, while the Hammers have won three of their last five meetings with the Blues at home, their last win at Stamford Bridge was all the way back in 2002.
The fixture has thrown up some pulsating matches in the past, and great goals like Eden Hazard’s solo effort last season, but it’s not the best London derby out there.
A special mention for Charlton v Millwall (less big recent history) and Crystal Palace v Charlton (if your bigger rivalry is with Brighton then it doesn’t count). And if anyone was tempted to pitch Wimbledon v MK Dons, you’re out of luck. Not only is Milton Keynes very much not in London, but nor is Kingston.
Want to know what does make the cut? Keep reading, and do not, under any circumstances, @ me.
7. Chelsea v West Ham
The fans hate each other, which is always a good sign for a derby, but they seem pretty selective about when to show that mutual resentment. It’s led to some pretty tame games in recent years, but if history has taught us anything it’s that we’re overdue.
6. QPR v Brentford
A proper rivalry, by which I mean two sets of fans whose resentment of each other is (a) fairly equal and (b) not nearly matched by other fans resentment of them. These two could do nothing all season and face off in a mid-table dead-rubber and it would be as fierce as ever.
5. Chelsea v Tottenham
It was already on the verges of the list, but José Mourinho’s move to Spurs has elevated it for the time being. Plenty of injustice (that cup semi-final springs to mind), a shared beef (André Villas-Boas) and two sets of fans who will probably take huge offence to the suggestion that, for at least half of the Premier League era, they’ve been two clubs of comparable standing.
4. Chelsea v Arsenal
Always good to include one where the teams have been involved in title battles together. Calm down, Spurs fans, we said battles, plural. A fixture best known for Abou Diaby almost kicking John Terry’s head clean off, but it’s worth acknowledging the bad blood around the Ashley Cole deal too.
How many other games have involved fans bringing fake oversized £20 notes into the stadium? Exactly.
3. West Ham v Tottenham
As my friend Euan Taylor once said, if the police let you play after 1pm then it’s not a real derby. West Ham and Spurs, have played two 12:30 games in the last three seasons, so they’re getting there. It’s still a bit too one-sided for a top-two spot, though…
2. Arsenal v Tottenham
Arsenal v Tottenham is as close as you can get to a zero-sum game in football. Nothing that happens before or after the match has even close to as much bearing on events as the fixture itself, ensuring that any semblance of pride on the part of one rival has an equal and opposite amount of embarrassment attached to the other.
The last few weeks, with things going dismally for both teams, has felt off, which is why Mourinho’s arrival in North London is exactly the remedy we – supporters of other clubs with absolutely no skin in this game – need.
The only way to ratchet it up a level is ensuring Mauricio Pochettino replaces Unai Emery as Arsenal boss. If enough of us will it into existence then it can happen.
1. Millwall v West Ham
Obviously. What did you think would be here?