The 10 best London derbies - ranked

Tom Gott
The North London derby is one of the best fixtures around
The North London derby is one of the best fixtures around / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Laaaaaandan. London Town. Londinium. The Big Smoke. Das Capital. Den of the liberal metropolitan elite, home of Danny Dyer and (let's face it) where most of the news comes from.

But more importantly, London also has a lot of football teams. 12 professional sides from England's top four tiers are based inside the M25 and quite often, they are forced to play one another.

Whenever the new season's fixture schedules are released, one of the first things fans do is check for London derbies.

One of the stadiums where football happens in London
One of the stadiums where football happens in London / Chris Gorman/Getty Images

They're some of the most exciting, feisty, fighty events on the footballing calendar, with games often bringing goals, tough tackles and more controversy than that new Elizabeth line, eh? (London reference).

Because no-one asked, here are London's very best derbies ranked.

10. Leyton Orient vs West Ham

The two sides even play friendlies against each other
The two sides even play friendlies against each other / Clive Rose/Getty Images

The east London derby often gets forgotten about because Leyton Orient and West Ham United barely ever play each other.

The two sides haven't faced off in a competitive game since 1987, when the Hammers came out on top in an FA Cup third-round tie.

Though there's still animosity over the whole London Stadium thing, it's one of those rivalries that hardly counts anymore, and that's why it's dead last on our list.

9. Charlton Athletic vs Crystal Palace

One of the south London derbies
One of the south London derbies / Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The 'south London' derby is technically played any time two of Charlton, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Wimbledon face off.

However, while the others have bigger, or geographically closer rivals Charlton and Palace is probably the biggest match-up sarf of the river.

Palace got the better of the Addicks in the 1996 playoffs and have 34 wins to Charlton's 19 in 68 total encounters.

Alan Pardew, Chris Powell and Jonny Williams are among the former players to have crossed this not particularly significant divide.

8. Chelsea vs Fulham

Chelsea and Fulham are local neighbours
Chelsea and Fulham are local neighbours / Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Chelsea and Fulham meet a little more frequently than the previous entrants, but since Fulham's drop to the Championship in 2013, the intensity of this derby has faded away.

Many Blues fans will tell you they have moved on to bigger and better things, while even a handful of Cottagers will confess to not being particularly bothered by this one anymore.

The battle for bragging rights still exists, but the flame is close to dying out.

7. Brentford vs Fulham

Fulham kept Brentford in the Championship in 2019/20
Fulham kept Brentford in the Championship in 2019/20 / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In the 1980s and 1990s, the west London derby between Brentford and Fulham was pretty intense. You could regularly find clashes on both the pitch and in the stands.

Things began to quieten down during Fulham's run in the top flight, but the end of the 2019/20 season will undoubtedly have reignited things.

Fulham and Brentford squared off in the Championship playoff final, in which the Cottagers picked up a dramatic 2-1 win to leave their rivals stuck in the second tier.

6. Brentford vs QPR

This rivalry dates back 50 years
This rivalry dates back 50 years / Henry Browne/Getty Images

There's a real story behind Brentford's rivalry with Queens Park Rangers. Back in 1967, Brentford nearly ceased to exist as QPR chairman Jim Gregory planned to buy the club, take their stadium and wipe them from the face of the planet.

Truthfully, Brentford fans were more angry at their own club than anyone else, but this incident gave birth to a rivalry which still produces some entertaining affairs whenever the two sides meet.

5. Chelsea vs Tottenham

The Battle of the Bridge was notoriously feisty
The Battle of the Bridge was notoriously feisty / Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The fact that Chelsea's rivalry with Tottenham Hotspur only sits fifth on this list tells you a lot about what's to come.

Tottenham's rise to one of England's elite under Mauricio Pochettino brought about an intensified hatred towards Chelsea, whose position as London's most successful team at the time was under threat.

The 'Battle of the Bridge' in 2016, in which yellow cards were thrown out everywhere (and about 1,000 reds should have been dished out), is a perfect example of the animosity between these two sides, and José Mourinho's move to Spurs hasn't helped cool things down.

4. Tottenham vs West Ham

This is one of West Ham's biggest games
This is one of West Ham's biggest games / Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Unlike most of the derbies on this list, Tottenham and West Ham's rivalry doesn't stem from proximity.

However, that hasn't stopped the two sides from developing a bitter feud, with hooliganism and violence dominating the headlines during the 1980s.

These days, West Ham fans have grown frustrated with a perceived arrogance from Spurs and they treat each meeting with their rivals as a cup final - something Spurs try to laugh at but also conform to.

3. Arsenal vs Chelsea

Both sides want to be London's best
Both sides want to be London's best / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

For Chelsea fans, there's nothing more important than beating Arsenal. Even if a season is going disastrously, it can be saved with a positive result against the Gunners.

Arsenal definitely play their part in the spectacle of this one. After years of being London's finest, they handed the crown over to Chelsea in mid-2000s and have been battling to get it back ever since.

Both of these sides see themselves as London's biggest club. Arsenal have all the history and Chelsea have the more-recent success, but there can only be one winner.

2. Millwall vs West Ham

This fixture is notoriously brutal
This fixture is notoriously brutal / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Dockers derby is the epitome of a rivalry. It probably deserves the top spot on this list, but the only concern is that the two sides barely even play each other these days.

It's perhaps a good thing that West Ham and Millwall have been separated in recent years as clashes between the two are about as intense as they come. On the pitch, players would battle for superiority, but that's nothing compared to the tension in the stands - there was a full-blown riot in 2009.

From a footballing perspective, the atmosphere is unlike anything else the English game has to offer. If it was a regular occurrence, there'd be nothing left of the city.

1. Arsenal vs Tottenham

The North London derby tops it all
The North London derby tops it all / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The crème de la crème of London derbies, the north London showdown between Arsenal and Tottenham is always one of the most exciting affairs of any given season.

Arsenal's move to Highbury in 1913 gave these two sides a geographical reason to despise each other, and the rest is history. Superiority means everything to both teams, and that's why games are always so exciting.

Results have gone both ways in recent years, so it's almost impossible to predict how this one is going to go. You have to watch to find out, and it rarely disappoints.

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