Having witnessed Karl Henry and Joey Barton go toe to toe, although boot to face might be a more appropriate term, it made me think of great personal feuds that the Premier League has played host to. When Wolves rock up at St James Park are we in line for another midfield battle as the two players lock horns again? Here are some of the Premier League’s best. Let us know of the others.
5. Nemanja Vidic v Fernando Torres
Not all battles have to be physical. Nemanja Vidic can be a colossal player for Man Utd, dominating teams at times and putting up a near unreachable barrier, but no player gets under his skin more than the electric Spaniard. Not being able to cope with Torres is by no means a shameful thing, but Vidic is excellent and yet Torres is like kryptonite to the Serbian. As good as Vidic is, he much prefers an aerial battle, or a grittier match up, rather than being made to run on the turn. Having been sent off three times against Liverpool, Vidic is definitely on the losing side when it comes to this head-to-head, and all eyes will be on the personal battle when the two teams meet at Old Trafford in less than two weeks’ time.
4. Peter Schmeichel v Ian Wright
A battle between two hot-heads that boiled over during the two meetings of the 1996/97 season. Old Trafford in November saw allegations of racist remarks aimed at Wright by the Great Dane, although these were never proved and the case was dropped. It did however add spice to the return fixture in North London the following February. In one fifty-fifty challenge, Wright apparently lunged in two-footed, which caused one of a number of altercations during the match, as well as being pulled apart in the tunnel after the final whistle. Still, they managed to make up enough to share a BBC sofa and agree a pact of neither man being able to offer anything close to an opinion……about anything.
3. Sir Alex Ferguson v Arsene Wenger
From 1998 to 2004, Arsenal and Manchester United were the only real contenders to the Premiership crown. Throughout that period the two men hurled insults at each other, led their teams to brawls on the pitch, and were of course responsible, for the now infamous ‘pizzagate’. Although during the period, things began to get a little petty, the bitterness has now gradually morphed into mutual respect. The relationship that Fergie had with Wenger, and then Mourinho afterwards, is a loss to the league. Maybe Fergie should make fun of Ancelotti’s eyebrow?
2. Cristiano Ronaldo v Ashley Cole
Ronaldo has publicly said Cole is the best opponent he has ever faced. Cole says he misses Ronaldo being in the league. A rivalry at the highest level of pace and skill that graced both the domestic and international stage. Cole was embarrassed by Ronaldo early on and vowed never to be so again, even having the gall to show United fans the pocket he was keeping him in on an Old Trafford night. Cole’s performance in Euro 2004 against Ronaldo is one of the best full-back performances of all time.
1.Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira
Although not intentionally featuring so many United players, there was never going to be another contender for the top spot. Like Wenger and Ferguson above them, the two captains and talismen were at their best when they faced each other. Both capable of creativity and destruction, arguably the two greatest central midfielders the Premiership has ever bore witness to, were cut from the same cloth. Of all their meetings, a particular pre-match tunnel confrontation springs to mind. Even the referee told them to “save it for the pitch lads!” Better than all of that, is the pathetic attempt by Gary Neville to stare down Vieira during the handshakes at the end of the clip.
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