This Saturday sees football fans with a tough decision to make. with Manchester United taking on Manchester City at 12:30pm, 30 minutes after Celtic have kicked off against Rangers. With two of the biggest games Britain has to offer happening on the same day, it has brought about the usual debates regarding which is the superior derby. Whilst it would be difficult to convince anybody either way of that, do previous games give us an indication over which tie is the most exciting? TSZ looks back at the last 30 derbies that have taken place in the league to examine the numbers behind the games, and explore what they tell us.
When thinking about a derby, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the feisty nature of these games, so that seems like a good place to start.
Of the 273 yellow cards brandished in the last 30 derbies, it is the Old Firm which has seen the most yellows produced. Rangers and Celtic have seen 157 yellow cards shown, an average of 5.23 yellows a game compared to the Manchester derby which has seen 116 yellows, an average of 3.87 a game.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is again the Old Firm which has produced the most red cards. In the last 30 games, there have been 11 reds shared between Celtic and Rangers, with just six between United and City.
The per game averages aren’t too dissimilar for red cards shown (0.2 per game in the Manchester derby compared to 0.37 per game in the Old Firm derby), but when looking at the percentage split based on those 17 red cards, the Old Firm take a sizeable chunk. They’ve seen 64.71% of the red cards shown between the two in the last 30 games, compared to the 35.29% that the Manchester derby has seen.
Away from the ill-discipline of derby games, the other obvious place to look for excitement is goals. Do the Old Firm produce more goals as well as cards or are the roles reversed?
As can be seen from the above, it is in fact the Manchester derby that has produced the most goals over the last 30 games. 81 goals have been scored in Manchester, compared to 73 in Glasgow. The averages are very similar however, as is the percentage split of goals with the Manchester derby seeing 52.6% of the total number of goals over the two games. The Manchester derby has produced on average 2.7 goals per game with the Old Firm seeing slightly less with 2.43 per game.
Another aspect we’ve looked at is the number of late goals scored in either game (goals in the final 10 minutes). These could of course come when the game is already gone but there has been some late excitement historically in both games so it’s worth looking at.
It is again the Manchester derby that has seen the greater number of late goals. This number is skewed slightly by City’s 6-1 at Old Trafford in 2011 when there were four goals in the final 10 minutes, as well as the 4-3 thriller in 2009 when the third late goal in that game sealed the win for United. 19 goals have been scored in the final 10 minutes of games in the Manchester derby compared to the Old Firm’s 12 (0.63 per game compared to 0.4 per game). Of the 31 late goals scored, there have been 61.29% of those scored in Manchester with just 38.71% in Glasgow.
Another feature we looked at was the number of hat-tricks but in the last 30 games, no player has managed to score a hat-trick in either derby. Historically, they have been hard to come by in these games. The last hat-trick to come in a Manchester derby was scored by United’s Andrei Kanchelskis in a 5-0 win back in November 1994. Ally McCoist was the last man to score an Old Firm hat-trick and that actually came in the 1983/84 League Cup final for Rangers. However, the last hat-trick scored in an Old Firm league game was all the way back in 1966, when Stevie Chalmers completed the feat for Celtic.
It may come across as a fairly understandable outcome following our analysis, but if it’s goals and potential late excitement you’re looking for then switch on to the Manchester derby on Saturday afternoon. If you’re looking for a fiery game with plenty of cards however, you’re more likely to see that in the Old Firm derby. If you’re hoping to see a hat-trick in either game, it might not be forthcoming!