Top 5 On-Field Fights of the Premier League Era

Sean Butters@shbgetrealFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2013

Top 5 On-Field Fights of the Premier League Era

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    Is there anyone who doesn't like a bit of good old-fashioned, '70s-style on-field brawling?

    Hell, even the players involved seem to enjoy it. They certainly didn't hesitate to get stuck in.

    So here's a roundup of the best on-pitch fights of the Premier League era. You may notice that a couple of slides are not about incidents during Premier League matches as such, but they involve Premier League clubs, and were too ridiculous to pass up.


Lee Bowyer vs. Kieron Dyer, 2005

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    Unless Lee Bowyer had something in his contract that waived responsibility for any bad tackles or bust-ups, it’s a wonder why anyone ever signed him.

    Although not a bad player, his reputation for being a headbanger was established early in his career and hung on throughout.

    Scuffles with the opposition are generally thought to be one of those things that just happens from time to time, but staging a full-on punch-up with one of your teammates is just insane.

    I suppose that Newcastle United being 3-0 down at the time may have had something to do with it. Then again, playing in a team with Bowyer, what did Kieron Dyer expect? 

David Batty vs. Graeme Le Saux, 1995

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    Another one strictly for the morons, again we have two players who lost their focus and turned their aggression on each other.

    Granted, it wasn’t a great night for Blackburn Rovers in their debut Champions League campaign, losing this game 3-0, but it was a good laugh for anyone else, including the referee, who looked as confused as the rest of us.

    Unhappy with Graeme Le Saux’s decision to let the ball run, which resulted in Spartak Moscow regaining possession, David Batty made a stand for corporal punishment and threw a fist at his teammate.

    Le Saux, not being the type to chicken out but not also not exactly the bookies favourite at this particular moment, retaliated with a punch of his own before the players were separated.

    The "brawl" then descended into childish name-calling from a distance, before they both realised where they were and got on with the game.

West Browich Albion vs. Fulham, 2004-05

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    This 2004-05 meeting didn’t appear to be one that might flare up, but by the end, fans were left in no doubt that fighting was no longer reserved for derbies or rivals.

    A filthy game by anyone’s standards that saw three red cards and some humorous japery, with the standout moment being about two minutes into the above clip.

    Luis Boa Morte broke from the back with an open field in front of him and while bearing down on the West Brom goal he was felled by Neil Clement, who was duly sent off.

    What no one foresaw, however, was the resulting free-for-all in which Andy Cole and Papa Bouba Diop both received red cards for hitting Clement and Darren Purse, respectively.

    Yes; in the face, in front of every television camera and person in the ground, with the referee metres away—clever stuff.


Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 2007

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    With Chelsea leading 2-1 in stoppage time of the League Cup Final, both sides completely lost control after John Obi Mikel apparently manhandled Kolo Toure.

    The Ivorian confronted Mikel, at which point both sets of players leaped into action—only it was the kind of action that you expect to see outside the local kebab shop at three in the morning.

    Three players, Emmanuel Adebayor, Toure and Mikel were dismissed, while Frank Lampard and Cesc Fabregas were booked. As a result of the brawl and some other incidents, the match didn’t finish until the 103rd minute.

Manchester United vs. Arsenal, 2003

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    Widely considered as the crème de la crème of high-profile bust-ups on the field of play, the action had begun in the tunnel before a previous game with Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira making the grave mistake of crossing Manchester United's resident bedrock crazy, would-have-been-a-bouncer-if-he-hadn’t-made-the-cut, Roy Keane.

    The bad blood came to a boil at Old Trafford as Ruud van Nistelrooy won a penalty at the death that Arsenal accused him of diving for.

    The Dutchman failed to convert, and was then hounded by five or six Arsenal players, including Martin Keown who jumped up in the air and brought his arm down to strike van Nistelrooy on the back of the head. The Manchester United players ran in, and the games commenced.