5 Big Teams a 1st-Time Fan Should Root for in the Premier League
With the Premier League season finally abound, more and more Americans are getting into the game without a proper club to support. When people ask me who they should support, I try to offer a team with prominent Americans, before hedging that—with Clint Dempsey gone from Tottenham to play in America for the Seattle Sounders—there aren't any top teams with prominent (or any) Americans who also have a chance to win the title.
If a new fan wants to follow a team in the EPL and has no preconceived allegiance to any club, wouldn't it be prudent to suggest a team that might actually win something?
If you follow that logic, the choices are slim. There are really only four, maybe five, clubs with a chance to win the EPL this—or any—season.
Since the inception of the Premier League, there has been only one league champion from any club other than Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City. When Blackburn won the EPL in 1994-95, it marked the last season one of the current top four clubs didn't win. That's nearly 20 years ago!
In truth, Manchester City didn't rise to dominance until they got their oil money, so there is hope for some of the mid-table clubs to hold out for a rich benefactor to change the fortunes of the club. Until that, under current ownership groups in England's top flight, there doesn't seem to be much hope for clubs outside the top handful.
Manchester United have gone to the Champions League every year but one since the Premier League was created (the year Blackburn won the title, only the champion went to the Champions League). While Arsenal complain about a title drought, they have been to the Champions League each of the last 16 seasons. Chelsea have finished in the top three in the EPL for nine of the last 10 seasons, and the one year they didn't—finishing a horrific sixth in 2011-12—they still qualified for the Champions League the following year after winning the tournament that season.
The club outside of those four with the best chance is Tottenham, surely. Spurs will either benefit from Gareth Bale on the field or the money from Bale in the cupboards to reload with talent to get them into Champions League position. As currently constructed, Spurs may have the talent to compete for the EPL crown this year, lacking only a bit of depth to sustain the rigors of a long campaign.
Despite Liverpool's historic success in the EPL—despite not qualifying for Champions League the last four years, they did qualify in eight of the 10 seasons prior—the Reds don't seem to have enough firepower to compete with the EPL elite, even with Luis Suarez (and who knows what will happen with him).
Everton? My six-year-old daughter wishes they would be more competitive. They have a few wonderful pieces, but entirely no depth. The same could be said for any number of clubs this season as well. Someone from the mid-table could make a run to compete, but winning the league will be very difficult for any team but a select few.
If you are new to the EPL this season and looking for a team to support, being a front-runner may be soulless, but it is rewarding.
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