Spurs v Chelsea: Frank Lampard dominates proceedings as we crunch the numbers in London derbies

The local derby, the very lifeblood of the game. Mind the gap, forever in our shadow, the noisy neighbours, you won the league in black and white, welcome to Manchester, the second best team on Merseyside are Liverpool’s reserves, Peter Enckelman’s face, oh Peter Enckelman’s anguished face. Football without rivalry would relegate the game to the level of one of those sports people take a vague interest in during the Olympics, and we can’t be having that.

This weekend sees not only a premier London derby in the form of Tottenham vs Chelsea, but also an early season cup final, given that the champions were humbled on the opening day by workmanlike Burnley and are already playing catch-up. And to top it all off, this late summer clasico takes place at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham’s temporary but grandiose home.


London derbies can be a difficult maze to navigate (A hates B, B hates A but B also hates C, C hate both but A has more of a problem with D due to player X who did [incident] in [year]) but one thing the Premier League guarantees is a lot of them. This will be the 653rd since the first one in August 1992 (which took place at White Hart Lane, a 2-2 draw between Spurs and Crystal Palace). The highest scoring also occurred at the recently-destroyed stadium (Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal in November 2004), while west London dominates the goal frenzy stakes, with Chelsea scoring six times on three occasions, and Fulham doing it once, in a 6-0 dismantling of QPR that led to what contemporaries labelled ‘the Adel Taarabt bus incident’.

To echo the age-old cry, “what’s the point of having 652 London derbies if you don’t arbitrarily rank players based on their historical contributions to them”, let’s go a bit deeper and arbitrarily rank players based on their historical contribution to them.


Appearances: Frank Lampard 139, John Terry 116, Sol Campbell 103

Only three men have broken three figures for appearances in Premier League London derbies and it’s no surprise to see Frank “Frank Lampard Jnr” Lampard clear at the top with 139. Starting his career with West Ham in the 1990s before dominating the 2000s and early 2010s with Chelsea, Lamps has more experience of intra-London rivalry than Mad Frankie Fraser. Filling out the top three are John Terry and former mayoral hopeful Sol Campbell, the Tory libero, a man who once went 56 consecutive Premier League games without tasting defeat. 


Goals: Thierry Henry 43, Frank Lampard 32, Teddy Sheringham 32

Sometimes Thierry Henry wasn’t at his best at a northern stadium where the passes were vertical and the rain was horizontal but release the Frenchman somewhere inside the M25 and he was deadly. London nets were disturbed by the Gallic Gunner on 43 occasions, most notably in 2004-05 when he scored nine. Lampard (of course) is in there, as is Teddy Sheringham, whose extreme career length allowed him to play in top-flight London derbies for Millwall in the 1980s and score a Premier League goal against Portsmouth in his early 40s. Sheringham also scored the most Premier League goals by an opposing player at Highbury, an achievement the grateful Arsenal fans commemorated with a series of friendly, supportive songs about him. 


Assists: Dennis Bergkamp 23, Cesc Fabregas 23, Frank Lampard 18

From the Romans to the Huguenots, London has always been receptive to some overseas craftsmen and football is no different. Tied at the top of the assists chart are three-time Premier League winner with Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp and two-time Premier League winner (not with Arsenal) Cesc Fabregas. Unusually for these lists, Cesc Fabregas is a real-life current player, so in a parallel universe could be moving ahead of Bergkamp in Sunday’s game at Wembley. Sadly for Chelsea fans, in our actual universe Fabregas was sent off in the opening match of the season and will be suspended. Completing the top three is statutory inclusion Frank Lampard.


Clean sheets: Petr Cech 38, David Seaman 33, Ian Walker 16, Neil Sullivan 16

Petr Cech has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in Premier League history and has played exclusively for Chelsea and Arsenal so it’s not an earth-shattering surprise to see him top this list, five ahead of David Seaman who, like Sheringham above, played in top-flight London derbies before 1992-93 that are cruelly omitted here. In gap between tube stops terms, Cech and Seaman are Chalfont & Latimer and Ian Walker and Neil Sullivan are Chesham, such is the chasm between the top two and the men tied in third. 


Defeats: Chris Perry 39, Luke Young 39, Frank Lampard 37

Life can be cruel, especially in a grey northern-European capital city, and we shouldn’t forget the players who have trudged off most often, buckled by defeat. Excitingly, it’s a two-way tie between two players who enjoyed lengthy, if not overly successful, top-flight careers: Chris Perry and Luke Young. Perry, of course, used to be the Englishman to have played the most Premier League games without being capped (363 of them), but he lost that too, to Kevin Nolan. At least this is one list that won’t see an appearance by Frank Lamp…. ah no, there he is, in third place.