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A huge week of derbies is coming. Here are five of the best

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Well, this has worked out nicely, hasn’t it? At the end of this month, there are four absolutely massive derbies available on NOW TV.

First, Celtic face Rangers, then it’s El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, before a midweek Manchester derby, and then it’s the North London derby to finish. That’s a lot of good football. And a lot of bad blood.

Over the years, these four derbies have produced some crackers, so we decided to pick our favourites from recent history. Get a load of these.

September 2009: Man United 4-3 Man City
Owen City.jpg

Welcome to Manchester, Michael Owen.

The build up to the game concerned the return of Carlos Tevez to Old Trafford after his acrimonious move to City in the summer. With City enjoying a perfect start to the campaign, there was talk of them being genuine title challengers. However, a win at Old Trafford was needed to boost confidence further.

Three times United led, three times City equalised. United presumably realised that to stop City repeating this irritating tactic, they would have to score in the game’s last second…or a little after that.

Earlier, Wayne Rooney had an early goal cancelled out by Gareth Barry, before two Darren Fletcher goals met two Craig Bellamy replies – his first goal an absolute cracker. With Bellamy’s second goal coming in injury time, it looked like both sides would have to settle for a point.

Enter Owen. The arch poacher was sent on from the bench and, just one month into his Manchester United career, stroked home from Ryan Giggs’s pass in the 96th minute to steal a dramatic winner.

April 2009: Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona
Pique Madrid.jpg

This was Barcelona at their brilliant best.

The 2009 Barca team was arguably the greatest club side of all time. A young manager called Pep Guardiola was already making his mark as he led his side to a treble, but it was this match which was arguably his crowning glory.

With Madrid also in the running for the La Liga title, they started well, with Gonzalo Higuain heading them in front. Then Barca went goal crazy!

Thierry Henry’s equaliser was followed by Carles Puyol’s header. When Lionel Messi added a third, the game looked over, before Sergio Ramos headed a goal back. Would we have a grandstand finish? Well, sort of.

Another Henry goal was followed by Messi’s second. With Barcelona now concerned more with taking the piss than winning the game, Gerard Pique joined a counter attack and somehow slotted the ball home for his sixth goal. Barca were in full banter mode, with Pique’s goal taking them to 100 league goals for the season... with four games still to play.

October 2008: Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
Bentley Arsenal.jpg

No victory for Tottenham this time either, but this was a draw that must have felt like a win.

Arsenal’s domination of this fixture had been checked by recent Tottenham wins, but Arsenal came into this fixture as massive favourites. While a title challenge was on the Gunners’ minds, Spurs found themselves in the middle of a relegation battle. The sacking of Juande Ramos (remember him?!) opened the door for Harry Redknapp, and he was tasked with keeping this talented but out-of-form squad in the division.

It is often said that form goes out the window in a derby, and so it proved here. Spurs took an early lead through David Bentley’s wonder goal, before Arsenal pulled clear through goals from Silvestre, Gallas (who went on to join Spurs) and Adebayor (who also went on to join Spurs).

Darren Bent reduced the deficit before Robin van Persie restored it, and Arsenal going into stoppage time. However, Jermaine Jenas’ brilliant strike gave Spurs hope, before Aaron Lennon poked in a dramatic equaliser right at the death.

November 2004: Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal
Arsenal Spurs.jpg

This was one of those rare occasions where football just goes mental.

Champions Arsenal had recently seen their 49-game unbeaten run ended by Manchester United, but they didn’t let that affect them during a pulsating match at White Hart Lane. With Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea starting to pull away in the league, Arsenal needed a performance. And they got one. At least in attack!

Tottenham actually took the lead through Noureddine Naybet, and it looked like they would go into the break ahead, before Thierry Henry grabbed a crucial equaliser. Then all hell broke loose.

The second half saw seven goals as the game swung one way and then the other. Goals from Lauren and Patrick Vieira put Arsenal in control, before a young Jermain Defoe pegged them back twice. When Robert Pires added Arsenal’s fifth, it looked like it was game over…before Freddie Kanoute gave the Arsenal fans a nervy finale with his side’s fourth goal.

More of the same later this month, please!

August 2000: Celtic 6-2 Rangers
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Sorry, Rangers fans.

We had to pick this classic from the start for the century. Celtic fans had had to put up with almost total dominance from their rivals from across the city, so this incredible performance at the start of the 2000/2001 season must have had them in dreamland.

New manager Martin O’Neill got his reign off to the perfect start with this Old Firm drubbing, which was set up by three goals in the first 11 minutes. Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton tore the Gers’ defence apart time and time again, and there probbaly a few Rangers fans who decided not to come into work the next Monday!

With Celtic already champions and going for a domestic treble, can they see off their rivals again on Sunday?

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