Premier League Trophy
Overhyped? Maybe. But there's a reason the English Premier League is widely regarded as the best domestic football competition in the world.
With 20 seasons under its belt, the Premier League has been instrumental in revolutionising how soccer is watched, consumed and even played.
The Premier League was born in 1992 from the desire of England's top clubs to reap optimum benefit from the nascent explosion of TV broadcasting rights for football.
It was a time when English football was emerging from perhaps its darkest days of hooliganism, crumbling stadiums and falling attendances.
Public interest in Italia 90, stadium improvements spurred by the Taylor Report and the return of English teams to European competition all signalled that football was ripe for a renaissance in the early '90s.
With its canny mix of money, broadcasting and global ambition, the Premier League embodied that renaissance—and continues to dominate the world game today.
Here are 10 reasons why the Premier League is the best in the world.
North London Derby
England is the most compact, densely populated country to host a top-level league, which gifts the football world a wealth of local derbies.
The North London derby, West Midlands derby, Merseyside derby, Tyne-Wear derby... OK, none of them quite matches the global magnitude and quasi-historical significance of Real Madrid versus Barcelona, the sheer unhinged intensity of Boca Juniors versus River Plate or even—thankfully—the ugly sectarian vitriol of the currently defunct Old Firm contests.
But they are always a highlight on the fixture list for the clubs involved, and the unpredictability of volatile derby matches means they often throw up unexpected results that can be a boon to the whole league.
Man United vs Liverpool
Distinct from the local derbies are the "big team" rivalries.
Occasionally, as now with Man City and Man United, they overlap. But the big team rivalries are generally fluid, shifting according to relative status. It is only since City's newfound success that United have considered their "noisy neighbours" any kind of serious rival.
At various times, big Premier League rivalries have included Arsenal-Liverpool, Chelsea-Leeds and Man United-Newcastle.
The most heated rivalries, though, can survive through years of unequal status.
Chief amongst those is Liverpool and Man United. Arguably, United have had such the better of Liverpool throughout the entire Premier League period that a serious rivalry seems out of balance.
But bitterness between the clubs runs deep, sustaining one of the great rivalries in world football.
Man United Lose to Everton
One of the more common criticisms of the Premier League is that it lacks competitiveness.
And while it is a hard fact of modern football that the days of an Ipswich Town becoming champions (without the help of a foreign sugar daddy, anyway) are long gone, the Premier League still provides a level enough playing field for the big teams to be humbled on occasion.
It would be insulting to Everton to say this season's opening win over Man United represents a huge upset, but the result no doubt delighted neutrals.
And given how close promoted sides Southampton and Reading ran Man City and Chelsea at the start, there are bound to be much more shocking upsets to come.
Manchester City, Champions 2011-12
Criticism of the Premier League's lack of competitiveness is due almost entirely to Manchester United's domination of the league, winning 12 of 20 championships since its inception.
But that has a lot to do simply with the Premier League's early years happening to coincide with one of the great eras of a particular club.
In fact, the Premier League is relatively competitive.
Last year, Manchester City became the fifth club to win the championship. Five champions in 20 years is just about the perfect balance—it means the competition is not a bizarre free-for-all that may as well be decided by the toss of a coin, but neither is it an embarrassing monopoly or duopoly.
Can This Man Destroy Man United?
In the Premier League, it is about the money. There's no getting away from it. The whole competition was dreamed up as a way to siphon bigger and bigger wads of the stuff away from smaller clubs into the pockets of the elite.
So let's get over it and just enjoy it.
Blackburn fans may have wept, but there was some serious comedy value in the Venky's takeover, highlighted by this ad.
If the Glazers ever do manage to completely destroy Man United, the worldwide schadenfreude will be almost unbearable.
And who doesn't need a good laugh once in a while?
Tabloid Favourite John Terry
The business pages are just the beginning of press fascination with the Premier League. Footballers' natural milieu is the tabloid splash.
No one does trash journalism like the British, and Fleet Street and the Premier League are a match made in heaven.
Some of the tabloids' Premier League greatest hits have included John Terry's affair with Wayne Bridge's ex, Ashley Cole's drunken exploits and Ryan Giggs' desperate legal attempts to evade the tabloids, which in true Streisand effect became more of a story than the original affair.
It was the British tabloid press who gave us the term WAG, and while every league—and every sport—has them, none can beat the Premier League WAGs.
Premier League footballers have always attracted the hottest WAGs, but now even club owners are getting in on the act.
This season's hottest WAG has got to be Reading owner Anton Zingarevich's wife Katsia, a Victoria's Secret model.
2011-12 Champions League Winners Chelsea
Part of the rationale for creating the Premier League was to provide a higher class of competition that would prepare English teams to compete on the European stage.
It took a few years, but it certainly seems to be working increasingly well.
Four of the last 20 Champions Leagues have been won by Premier League sides, three of those in the past decade. The past five Champions League finals have featured five Premier League teams.
If, as many contend, the Champions League is the pinnacle of footballing quality, the success of Premier League sides is significant.
England Star Wayne Rooney
European success plus massive amounts of cash is the ideal formula to attract star players.
This is undoubtedly one of the Premier League's best attractions. From Eric Cantona to Dennis Bergkamp to Cristiano Ronaldo to David Silva to Eden Hazard, the Premier League is a showcase for some of the world's best players.
At the same time, it remains home to the best English players, who—thanks again to the prominence of the British press globally—are some of soccer's biggest stars.
And ultimately, it is that variety of talent plus the traditional attributes of power and pace that form the unique Premier League style.
The bottom line is that the Premier League has all the best football has to offer: skill, strength, drama and hectic, end-to-end action.