Derbies are usually tense affairs where neither team is willing to do more than tentatively probe at risky moves, for fear of being caught out – but not this season.
This term has seen all the old assumptions about local derbies thrown out the window; it is something we need to cherish because there’s no telling how long it will last.
The latest in this season’s swashbuckling series was Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Everton at Anfield, where Steven Gerrard’s hat-trick made the difference in a compelling contest.
It followed on from Newcastle United’s late equaliser at home to ten-man Sunderland a week or so previously, which was another exciting game that should probably have yielded more goals.
It is an entertaining interlude to games that are usually decided by few goals and have the tendency to be played out in a manner similar to knockout rounds in tournaments.
The feeling surrounding the ties are responsible for typically erring on the side of caution; fans rarely invest as much emotion into any other kind of fixture, especially when the rivals are local.
Players can feel the tension when they walk out onto the field, with supporters as vociferous in support as they are to mistakes or failure.
The problem facing fans is being on the doorstep of the other side should the unthinkable happen; going to work or socialising is fraught with the danger of reminders for sickening defeat.
This derby mentality makes it even more puzzling as to the open nature of what we have witnessed so far in the 2011-12 Premier League.
Indeed, with all of the meetings between the bigger clubs this season, there has been a tendency towards suicidal defending and reckless tactics designed to go all out for victory.
Manchester United’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of Manchester City earlier this season was a case in point; after going down to ten men and falling behind, Sir Alex Ferguson still kept his side open when trying to get back into the game.
As a result they suffered a defeat that will live on for a long time in the memory of their city rivals.
The same can be said for Tottenham Hotspur, who managed to throw away a two-goal lead away to north London rivals Arsenal last month in what was a feeble display.
It was in contrast to the vibrant performance they gave at White Hart Lane in a close game, which was won by a brilliant strike from distance by Kyle Walker.
Even when you look past the actual result, both clashes were cut and thrust with lots of chances for both sides.
It is difficult to pin down exactly why there have been such open ties between such rivals, but there has definitely been a lack of decent defending in much of the meetings.
It is almost as if the teams concerned have suddenly begun to perform in alignment to the emotional rollercoaster felt by their fans – there comes a more fervent desire for victory, rather than desiring victory as by-product of avoiding defeat.
Analysis of the individual games can be done to find specific tactical reasons for each victory or capitulation, but it is certain we have a general change of attitude on our hands at the moment and the change is for the better.
Cagey and tentative approaches to these ties are what have ruined so many of them for the supporters in attendance over the years and the change of direction is most probably welcomed by most.
Fans want more blood, sweat and tears from the most needling games of their seasons; they want goals, they want drama, they want processions of victory or beautiful failure.
It appears as though the people are getting what they want for now – but don’t bank on the madness continuing, they will get a hold on themselves before long.
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