7 of the Best Player-on-Player Rivalries in Premier League History

Football derbies are just wonderful. The intensity, passion and hostility is endearing, which is why we’re doing a wee series on them here at 90min.

​But what about the other rivalries? Yes, you know what we mean, players on opposing sides who just hate the sight of each other, where you can be sure there’ll be a dozen or so expletives shared throughout the match, and a few late tackles thrown in for good measure.

It happens across the board in football, with the ​Premier League being no different. In fact, some of the most notable player disputes have occurred in the English game, so why not take a trip down memory lane with seven of the most fierce? Onboard? Cracking, so let’s get into players who downright loved smashing each other. 


Jamie Carragher & Gary Neville

Jamie Carragher,Gary Neville

You’d be forgiven for thinking these two had been friends for life given the camaraderie and chemistry they share as pundits, but we all know that is far from the case. Playing for their home town clubs – who also happen to be big rivals – certainly added spice to the occasion

As citizens of their respective sides, they wore their hearts on their sleeves, which, more often than not, meant tempers boiled over. Any chance to get up in each other’s grills was taken, so it’s probably beneficial that they were both defenders and rarely came in contact.


Fernando Torres & Nemanja Vidic

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-MAN UTD

Rightly revered as one of the Premier League’s finest central defenders, the fact that Torres got the better of Vidic on a few occasions illustrates just how good the striker was in his pomp.

While at ​Liverpool, Torres saw Vidic get sent off twice for fouls on the Spaniard, first in 2008 and then again just six months later. Not taking too kindly to the rough treatment, the pair came to blows again for the remainder of their league careers, most notably at Stamford Bridge in 2014.


Alan Shearer & Roy Keane

Roy Keane Alan Shearer

In one of the more obvious additions, two Premier League greats pulled no punches – literally – whenever they took to the field together. It started with Keane’s missed punch on Shearer in 2001, and then a series of tunnel bust-ups followed.

Shearer got his revenge on the pitch with a crafty elbow at Old Trafford in a heavy defeat further down the line, but these two never saw eye to even after their playing careers had finished. Which is why it’s a good thing Shearer didn’t join ​Manchester United in 1996, isn’t it?


Ian Wright & Peter Schmeichel 

Arsenal v Man United

Starting with alleged racist abuse directed Wright’s way from Schmeichel, the hatred between the pair during their playing days was both bitter and heated. The Dane was cleared of any wrongdoing, but frequent face-offs would occur each time ​Arsenal played United.

An ill-tempered encounter at Highbury saw their ‘relationship’ reach a breaking point when Wright straight up two-footed the goalkeeper when he had the ball, even though the whistle had gone and he didn’t have hope in hell’s chance of winning possession. They’ve since settled their differences and are good mates though, which is nice to see.


John Terry & Wayne Bridge

Chelsea's John Terry (R) fails to get a

Some rivalries are born out of incidents that happen on the pitch…but not this one. Granted, most of this particular falling out took place in the tabloids, but there is no love lost between these guys. Not one bit.

Which is completely understandable on Bridge’s part, since Terry had engaged in a four-month affair with Bridge’s former partner Vanessa Perroncel, mere moments after they had broken up. Needless to say, when they did meet on the pitch after that, Bridge did what everyone thought and refused to shake Terry’s hand. It was glorious to see. Oh, and Terry got stripped of the England captaincy temporarily. Not so glorious.


Roy Keane & Patrick Vieira

Roy Keane

Back again, but this time for arguably the greatest player rivalry in the history of English football. With gallantry and virility every time they took to the pitch, the most compelling of all tussles was a fascinating sub-plot to each Arsenal versus United clash.

Off the pitch, on the pitch, in the tunnel or in the changing room, it really didn’t matter because these two always found time to kick seven shades of s**t out of each other. Such a tense and pugnacious hatred has never been seen since, although we all yearn for such an almighty war between two individuals to return to the division again.


Diego Costa & Literally Anyone

FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL

Close your eyes and point a finger at a list of all the players ever to come up against Costa. Congratulations, you’ve found someone he’s beefed with. However, Skrtel gets the nod for being one of the few to stand up to the Spaniard’s draining antics whenever possible.

There were attempts to gouge eyes out, countless cheeky elbows to the ribs, shoves into the back and legs left dangling and toes trodden on. It was a pretty engrossing affair, to be honest, and one that dominated the headlines before, during and after the pair came to blows. Top quality entertainment from two no-nonsense footballers.


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