Arsenal v Manchester United: The real dirty derby
Arsenal host Manchester United this weekend in a match that looks set to rack up the cards, with the fixture between these Premier League giants having witnessed more cards brandished over the last 15 seasons than the north London derby and Manchester derby.
Referee Andre Marriner will be officiating the match and, if the last fifteen seasons’ worth of clashes between the two sides is anything to go by, he will be reaching for his pocket on quite a few occasions this Saturday evening.
Traditionally, Arsenal and Manchester United’s fiercest rivals are their most local teams, namely Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, with many physically charged encounters having taken place down the years.
Surprisingly, though, when the Gunners and the Red Devils have taken each other on in the Premier League, the number of cards brandished since 2002/03 far surpasses the total amount of cards shown in the north London and Manchester derbies.
One season in particular was responsible for a gargantuan count of 16 yellows and one red card, which came in 2012/13, across a 1-1 draw at the Emirates and a 2-1 Red Devils victory at Old Trafford.
In fact, their league clashes at both the Emirates and Old Trafford have seen the referees reach for the cards a staggering total of 144 times over this period.
The sides have developed quite the rivalry in recent history, but one would be forgiven for thinking that their respective local derbies against Spurs and the Citizens harvest a greater amount of hostility - and therefore cards – but this is not the case.
The grand figure of 144 cards is a considerable tally of 20 cards more than the 124 dished out in the Manchester derbies and 16 more than the 128 shown in the north London derbies.
Meetings between Arsenal and Manchester United have long been much-anticipated dates in the Premier League calendar but now it would seem that they are also feistier encounters than we thought.
With the Gunners and Red Devils sitting in fourth and second place in the Premier League table respectively, the stage is set for yet another tantalising encounter officiated by a referee who will likely have his hands full this weekend.