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Top Four On-Field Football Fights

November 13, 2019

When Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez collided towards the end of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Manchester City at Anfield few would have believed that the tensions would spill over and it looked like a standard ‘football fight’ – a bit of pushing and posturing.

The two players had to be separated on the pitch by their team-mates, although no further action was taken by the referee. It appeared that cooler heads had prevailed. Skip forward 24 hours and they were at each other’s throats once more at St George’s Park on England duty.

Now team-mates, Sterling and Gomez are once again needing to be pulled apart. The incident resulted in Sterling – the instigator – being dropped by Gareth Southgate for England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro. Gomez accepted Sterling’s apology, although the next day in training he was wearing some scratches, reportedly from Sterling’s jewellery. So this soccer fight did get physical after all…

However, it remains to be seen whether the two will collide again in the future, especially as Liverpool and City are locked in a battle for the Premier League crown. It could be start of one of the great Premier League feuds. We’ll now look back at some of the top feuds in recent history at the top level of English football.

Football Fight #1 – Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Manchester United and Arsenal enjoyed a fierce rivalry at the top of the Premier League. The players hated each other and the feeling was also evident on the sideline between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

However, the two captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira epitomised the rivalry with their combative style in the middle of the park – they didn’t even need to get on the pitch on some occasions for the anger to begin. It was thrilling to watch two of the best players in Premier League history collide and they never seemed far away from a full-scale football fight. But the teams always produced drama that was must-watch television.

Football Fight #2 – Joey Barton v Manchester City

Joey Barton has been a controversial figure to say the least during his career in English football and continues to be during his tenure in charge of Fleetwood Town. He was always seemingly involved in a feud with a team-mate or opposition player. Barton had left Manchester City in 2007 before the club became a force at the top of the Premier League.

He and his Queens Park Rangers’ team-mates faced off against City on the final day of the 2011/12 season. A victory for QPR would give them the chance of staying up while denying City the chance to close out their first Premier League title. Barton would make life tougher for his team by having an infamous blowout, elbowing Carlos Tevez before kicking out at Sergio Aguero. His outburst would help City close out their title win courtesy of a late Aguero strike.

Football Fight #3 – Lee Bowyer v Kieron Dyer

Tensions can boil over between opposition players, but it rarely happens between team-mates. Newcastle discovered it can in the 2004/05 season during a home match against Aston Villa. Bowyer squared up to Dyer after he failed to pass him the ball in the middle of the park and an on-pitch football fight ensued between the two midfielders.

Villa captain Gareth Barry was the first on the scene to break it up, but the damage was done and both players were dismissed. Frustration had probably been boiling over due to the 3-0 scoreline, but it was a staggering event to witness and remains one of the most baffling incidents to take place on a Premier League pitch.

Football Fight #4 – Roy Keane v Alf-Inge Haaland

Keane delivered one of the most sickening challenges in Premier League history on the Norwegian as part of a spat between the pair. As a Leeds player Haaland had goaded Keane after the Irishman had suffered an injury unbeknownst to him was a torn ACL. Four years later following Haaland’s move to Manchester City the two players faced off in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Seemingly Keane had moved on from the incident, having played the Norwegian once before without drama. However, on this occasion he smashed into the midfielder with a high boot to the shin and was dismissed. It almost resulted in legal action, but Haaland’s career was ended by an injury to his left leg rather than his right.

About the author

Simon Sinclair
Simon Sinclair

Sports Writer

Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.