Merseyside vs Manchester in the English Premier League
This weekend sees a mouth-watering Manchester vs Merseyside double-header in the English Premier League, as Manchester City welcome Everton to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, before Liverpool play host to Manchester United the subsequent Monday evening. Manchester and Merseyside have butted heads 172 times in the top tier since the modern Premier League began in August of 1992. During that time, Mancunians have celebrated success on 81 separate occasions, eclipsing the Mersey clubs’ haul of 55 victories, with the remaining 36 matches ending all square. Across these fixtures, Manchester United and Manchester City have claimed a combined tally of 255 goals, with Liverpool and Everton netting 205 times at the expense of their foes along the M62. With the northwest’s four leading outfits gearing up to renew hostilities, Kitbag.com takes a look at the biggest Premier League wins for Merseyside and Manchester; as well the rivalry’s highest-scoring game, the midweek match that started it all and the player who has featured more than any other. Merseyside or Manchester… where do your loyalties lie, as the EPL season resumes?
The inaugural meeting of Merseyside and Manchester in the re-branded Premier League saw the spoils go Everton’s way on 1992-93′s maiden midweek matchday. That Wednesday night at Old Trafford saw Howard Kendall’s Toffees collect their first ever Premier League win, while consigning Alex Ferguson’s United to a second consecutive defeat. United created a golden opportunity when international teammates Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes combined early on, only for fellow Welshman Neville Southall to save from close range. It was Everton however who struck first blood; Peter Beardsley running onto Robert Warzycha’s through ball and finishing expertly past Peter Schmeichel, in front of an empty Stretford End (the iconic home stand was undergoing development work at the time). United had their chances to respond, but were repeatedly denied by an inspired Southall, before Everton killed the game off in the final ten minutes. First, Warzycha used fine skill to turn Gary Pallister inside out, blasting past Schmeichel to make it 2-0. Then, an uncharacteristic mistake from the Great Dane let substitute Mo Johnson (on for Warzycha) in for the Everton third. The 3-0 defeat sent United spiraling to the bottom of the table. However, the Mancunians would have the last laugh, winning 2-0 at Goodison Park less than a month later and taking four points off Liverpool en route to becoming the first to etch their name on the Premier League trophy.
Biggest Merseyside Win
While the 1990s was a golden era for those in the red half of Manchester, the same could not be said for their sky blue counterparts, with Manchester City struggling to fight the incoming tide of relegation. In an autumn period awash with defeats, including a 4-0 loss to Roy Evans’ Liverpool in League Cup action days earlier, City’s trip to Anfield on 28 October 1995 was one of the darkest days of their entire campaign, as Alan Ball’s men fell two behind in the opening five minutes and never came close to recovering. A scourge of Manchester sides for more than a decade, Liverpool legend Ian Rush would both open and close proceedings, bagging his final league brace for the club in what would be his farewell season. Successor Robbie Fowler would meanwhile equal his efforts, with further goals from Jamie Redknapp and Neil Ruddock (pictured) helping Liverpool to their biggest victory over one of the Manchester clubs since 1916. As fate would dictate, the season’s final day saw City needing to beat Liverpool in the return fixture at Maine Road to preserve their top flight status. Despite a spirited comeback from 2-0 adrift, the eventual 2-2 draw condemned City to relegation from the Premier League for the first time; yet the Blue Moon would soon rise again.
Biggest Manchester Win
Returning to the Premier League fray in 2000, Manchester City recorded the biggest victory of their millennial season with a 5-0 thrashing of Everton at Maine Road. The Citizens, who had lost six league games on the bounce, were in inspired form on 9 December 2000, handing the Merseysiders their most emphatic beating of the entire campaign and injecting new life into their latest relegation struggle. Striker Paulo Wanchope led the way in the tenth minute, converting a rebound past Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard (a man Manchester City manager Joe Royle had himself brought to Goodison Park, during his time in the Toffees hotseat). Without the prolific Francis Jeffers and mercurial Paul Gascoigne, Everton struggled to create chances at the opposite end, with City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver left an effective spectator while his team turned on the style. First, former England fringe player Steve Howey headed home a corner, doubling the Manchester team’s advantage. Then, fan favourite Shaun Goater made it three shortly before the interval, thwarting the efforts of Toffees skipper David Weir and driving the ball beyond Gerrard. The second half saw little better from an Everton team in disarray, as Paul Dickov powered home City’s fourth, before the visitors compounded their own misery with a Gary Naysmith own goal. Nevertheless, Walter Smith’s side would earn a degree of retribution when the teams reconvened in April, overturning a goal deficit to win 3-1 on Merseyside, as the Citizens nosedived towards another disappointing bottom three finish.
Casting aside the typical April showers, it was goals that were raining at Old Trafford on 22 April 2012, as Manchester United and Everton contested a high-octane 4-4 draw. An effective red herring for the drama ahead, it took more than half an hour for this goalfest to kick into life; Nikica Jelavic’s header breaking the deadlock in favour of the visitors. By half-time however, United had already struck back, with former Everton man Wayne Rooney heading home to set the tone for the rest of the match. The second period saw the floodgates open, with Danny Welbeck’s delicious finish from the edge of the area putting United in front, before Nani deftly finished a smart team move to extend his team’s advantage. Everton were far from finished and future United midfielder Marouane Fellaini soon put the Toffees back within touching distance. However, when roaring Rooney returned to the fore to convert United’s fourth minutes later, it appeared United’s march to the Premier League crown would continue uninterrupted. As it turned out though, a pivotal moment in the 2011-12 season would be await around the corner. With only ten minutes remaining, Rafael’s cross was headed against the post by Patrice Evra, denying United a conclusive 5-2 lead by the narrowest of margins. Then, sensationally, Everton used this let-off as a platform to mount a dramatic late comeback. Firstly, Jelavic latched onto a loose ball in the box, firing home the Toffees’ third to tee up a tense finale. Then, within moments, South African international Stephen Pienaar side-footed home at the near post, tying the game up at four goals apiece, to the disbelief of the 75,000+ crowd. At 4-4, Old Trafford had witnessed its finest league game all season; yet there was little cause for celebration for United, who had seen the destiny of the title fall into the hands of neighbours City, courtesy of the Mersey blues.
Most Featured Player
With an unparalleled 66 outings to his name, Ryan Giggs holds the record for the most Premier League appearances in Merseyside/Manchester match-ups. Curiously, the Cardiff-born sensation book-ended this run with home defeats to Everton, in 1992 and 2013 alike. Nevertheless, Giggs would score some seven league goals against the Toffees in the interim, as well as four more against neighbours Liverpool, bringing his total against Merseyside XIs to 11. January of 1994 proved a particularly prolific period for the Welsh wing wizard, as Giggs netted at Anfield in a pulsating 3-3 draw, before claiming his first of two winners against Everton before the month was out. Incredibly, Giggs would still be putting them away almost 20 years later, hitting the net against Everton on 10 February 2013, more than 8,000 days after making his Manchester United debut against the very same Merseyside adversaries. AC
- Jurgen Klopp by Andrew Yates, Reuters
- Manchester United Football Club by Action Images
- Redknapp and Ruddock by Corey Ross, Action Images
- Paulo Wanchope by Brandon Malone, Action Images
- Nikica Jelavic by Jason Cairnduff, Action Images
- Ryan Giggs by Lee Smith, Action Images