The Premier League – one of the most popular and widely watched leagues in the world – is set to kick-off this weekend after a short break, following the end of an eventful 2019-20 season.
A late start means that there will be a rush to finish the season and teams will feel the heat as they strive to accommodate multiple tournaments within their annual schedule.
In spite of the absence of the fans inside the stadiums, there will be no end love lost between the teams both on and off the pitch. And with the introduction of three newly promoted teams – Leeds United, West Brom and Fulham, some old bitter rivalries will be reignited in the Premier League.
On that note, let us see which three rivalries which will be reignited in the upcoming Premier League season.
#3 Aston Villa-West Bromwich Albion
There is quite an edge to the rivalry between the two West Midland sides. The matches between the two teams have managed to draw the best out the players.
The rivalry goes way back to the 1880s with the establishment of the two clubs – Aston Villa in 1874 and West Brom in 1878, with a distance of just four miles separating the two.
The Staffordshire Cup replay between Aston Villa and West Brom probably witnessed the first recorded violence between football fans.
The two sides met each other thrice in the FA Cup finals in 1887, 1892 and 1895, with the Villans winning it twice and the Baggies bagging the trophy once. Aston Villa goalkeeper Jimmy Warner was accused of throwing the final in 1892 on purpose, much to the ire of the Villa fans.
171 matches have taken place since the initiation of the West Midlands rivalry, with the Claret and Blue getting the upper hand over their rivals on as many as 78 occasions, while the Baggies have won 55. 38 matches have ended in a stalemate.
Last season, Aston Villa narrowly managed to keep their Premier League status intact on the final day after a 1-1 with West Ham.
On the other hand, West Brom, who also share a heated rivalry with Wolverhampton Wanderers, survived a late scare to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League. Now, both sets of fans will eagerly await the arrival of 19th December, when they resume their rivalry at the Hawthorns.
The origins of the two clubs have been closely linked. A dispute over the rent allowed businessman Gus Mears to form his own club – Chelsea– to occupy the Stamford Bride Athletics ground. Just one-and-a-half-mile separated the two stadiums and that gave rise to the hostility among the fans.
The rivalry between Chelsea and Fulham isn’t a high-profile one, mainly because of the gulf in class in the standards. While Chelsea have gone on to dominate proceedings in the top flight, the Cottagers have struggled to keep pace.
However, a rivalry is a rivalry and the Cottagers will definitely be looking forward to the two games against their West London rivals at Stamford Bridge and Craven Cottage.
On the stats front, the two sides have met each other 85 times so far, with Chelsea winning 48 games, Fulham coming out victorious on 26 occasions and 11 matches ending in draws.
#1 Leeds United-Manchester United
The rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United has its origins in the War of Roses, which dates back to the 15th century. In spite of the cities of Manchester and Leeds being situated 40 miles apart, they are united in their mutual hatred for each other.
The appointment of Matt Busby as the man in charge at Old Trafford and Don Revie as the player-manager at Elland Road only served to intensify that.
During the 1970s, the rivalry reached its heights and went beyond the two respective stadiums. The Leeds United service crew and the Red Army clashed on the streets and earned the distinction of being two of the most notorious hooligan firms in Britain.
However, the financial turmoil at Elland Road at the advent of the 21st century forced the club into selling some of their star players, most notably Rio Ferdinand to their rivals for a record £30m back in 2002.
Leeds United were relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2003-04 season and then to League One in 2007, following a ten-point deduction after the club declared that they had gone into administration.
The two sides have met each other on 107 occasions, with the Red Devils winning 46 of those. The Whites, on the other hand, got the upper hand over their rivals on 26 occasions.
Guided by veteran Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United are back in the Premier League and will be reigniting their rivalry with the Red Devils in the upcoming season.
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