A Beginner's Guide To Picking an EPL Team
When the United States got knocked out of the World Cup, most Americans were resigned to the fact that they will not watch another soccer match until June, 2014. That is when the next World Cup kicks off in Brazil. For those Americans who want to continue watching the beautiful game at its best, this post is for you. This post will help beginners dive into the wonderful world of English Premier League Football. It is a team by team breakdown of sorts. It will help you to find the club that suits you best as a fan.
The Recently Promoted:
Briefing: The Seasiders are the biggest surprise of the three newly promoted teams. Despite finishing sixth in The Championship (the second highest league in England), Blackpool won the play-off in dramatic fashion to find themselves in the EPL. Blackpool plays their home matches at Bloomfield Road, a small stadium that has a capacity of 12,555.
Redeeming Quality: They are going to come into this season as one of the biggest underdogs in recent history, could make for a nice story.
Buyer Beware: Becoming a fan of any newly-promoted club is a risky call. Especially with Blackpool, who are not expected to have a very long shelf life in the Premiership. However, if one does choose 'Pool as the team of his or her liking, they can look at Stoke City for an example of a team that has stayed in the Premiership after most thought they'd go right back down.
West Bromwich Albion
Briefing: Since 2000, the Baggies have been back and forth between the Premier League and The Championship several times. They are having trouble finding their place in top flight football. Under former Italian international, Roberto Di Matteo, Albion hope to finally find that elusive niche.
Redeeming Qualities: Besides having a great nickname, Albion also have an intense rivalry with two Premiership sides, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton.
Buyer Beware: Cannot find a way to stay in top flight football.
Briefing: Newcastle had never been relegated from the Premier League until 2009. After a debacle of a season that was filled with ownership issues, managerial problems, and terrible play, the Magpies found themselves in The Championship in 2010. They showed why they had never been there before though, and earned automatic promotion in record time.
Redeeming Qualities: One of only a few teams in the North of England, the Toon Army is a great fan base with few bandwagoners. They have a great rivalry with Sunderland, and were spotlighted in a movie called Goal: The Dream Begins .
Buyer Beware: Definitely not the most stable of clubs at the moment.
West Ham United
Briefing: West Ham is one of five teams that play their home matches in London. They also have one of the great developmental academies in all of the EPL. Because of this they are known as the "Academy of Football." They have been in the Premiership since gaining promotion in 2005, but have not finished above Ninth since.
Redeeming Qualities: The developmental academy is definitely something to brag about. Like Newcastle, the Hammers also have been featured in a motion picture. The movie Green Street Hooligans focused on the club's notorious hooligans. Playing in London can't hurt either.
Buyer Beware: West Ham finished one spot above the relegation zone in the '09-'10 campaign. Also, Robert Green —the goalie now known for his gaffe against the USA —is the goalkeeper for West Ham.
Briefing: The youngest club in the Premier League (formed in 1932), Wigan Athletic have been in the top flight since 2005. While this is their only spell in the top division, they have shown that they can hang and have not really shown any signs of letting up.
Redeeming Qualities: Their nickname, The Latics, is pretty fly. They have an intense rivalry with Bolton, and play in Manchester.
Buyer Beware: Wigan had the lowest average attendance in the EPL. They also lost two games by more than eight goals last season, a 9-1 dismantling to Tottenham and an 8-0 drubbing versus Chelsea.
Briefing: Wolverhampton are playing their second straight season of Premier League Football. They play their matches out of the city of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. They finished 15th in the '09-'10 campaign.
Redeeming Qualities: Wolverhampton is a pretty cool name for a city. They have a cool nickname, Wolves, a great kit, and a wild history of hooliganism. Lastly, Marcus Hahnemann, an American goalkeeper, plays for Wolves.
Buyer Beware: Although Wolves did stay in the EPL last year, they haven't shown yet that they are going to be able to stay in the top division.
Briefing: Bolton have been in the Premier League since 2001. They play their home matches at Reebok Stadium in greater Manchester.
Redeeming Qualities: Bolton have players from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States on their roster. They have been around the top flight for a long time now, and are a stable club.
Buyer Beware: Bolton have spent a total of 71 seasons in the top flight without ever winning a championship, most of any club. With Manchester United and Manchester City nearby, they do not get much attention from the media.
Briefing: Sunderland are one of the northernmost teams in the EPL. They play their home matches at The Stadium of Light. Since Niall Quinn took over the team, they have had an influx of Irish players, sometimes being called "Sund-Ireland."
Redeeming Qualities: Awesome nickname. Awesome kits. Awesome stadium name. They also have a raucous fan base. Their rivalry with Newcastle culminated in several Sunderland fans making fake bids to buy Newcastle when they were put up for 100 million pounds.
Buyer Beware: They haven't finished above 13th since being promoted in 2007.
Briefing: Fulham are another one of the clubs that play out of London. They play their home matches at Craven Cottage. They lost in the UEFA Europa League Final in extra time to Atletico Madrid this past season. They have been in the EPL since 2001.
Redeeming Qualities: Besides having a cool nickname, The Cottagers, Fulham are notorious for signing American players. Brian McBride captained the team in the past, and Clint Dempsey is a current fan favorite.
Buyer Beware: Have flirted with relegation while in the EPL. In '07-'08, they got by on goal differential. Fulham have a rivalry with Chelsea, and they are usually on the wrong side of the rivalry.
Briefing: Stoke were promoted two seasons ago and were picked by bookmakers all over to go right back down. However, the Potters surprised everyone and have finished mid-table in both of their seasons in the EPL.
Redeeming Qualities: Stoke have a lot going for them in our eyes. Especially for new fans looking for a team they could call their own. They have a great stadium, a great nickname, a great kit, and a general likability about them. They have a great fan base and regularly sell out Brittania Stadium. The Potters also have one of the most infamous firms (a firm is a hooligan group or militia) called the Naughty Forty. In 2003 the BBC described Stoke City as having "one of the most active and organised football hooligan firms in England".
Buyer Beware: The Potters have only been in top flight football for two years, so they still are not cemented in the EPL.
Briefing: Since 1995, only one team not named Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea has won the Premier League. That team? Blackburn Rovers.
Redeeming Qualities: Blackburn have been in the Premier League since 2002. They have a solid manager in Sam Allardyce and a great captain in Ryan Nelsen. They have bitter rivalries with Man Utd., Man City, and Bolton.
Buyer Beware: Blackburn have not shown the same promise since the '95 title. They also have the worst attendance record in the EPL, which has a lot to do with the fact that it is very hard to get to Ewood Park, their home grounds.
Briefing: The Blues were promoted before last season. They not only staved off relegation, something they had trouble doing in the past, they surprised many and finished in Ninth place, their best since 1951.
Redeeming Qualities: Birmingham City have a lot of momentum coming into the new campaign. They have a great fan base, called the Blue Noses, which is pretty cool too.
Buyer Beware: Still only one season off their promotion, one has to tread carefully with the Brummies.
Briefing: The Toffees are my favorite team, and have been since 1998 when I took a liking to the EPL. They play their home matches in Liverpool at Goodison Park. Because of this, they have a great rivalry with Liverpool, known as the Merseyside Derby.
Redeeming Qualities: Everton are known as "The People's Club." They are not the most successful club, but they own the longest streak of playing in England's top flight at 108 years. Everton has one of the best managers in the game in David Moyes and also have one of the best academies in the league. Their goalkeeper, American hero Tim Howard, is one of the tops in the league. Add one of the league's most passionate fan bases to all of this, and you have a great club.
Buyer Beware: Everton never seem to have the resources to make that final push into the top four.
Briefing: Liverpool are the most successful team in English Football. They have won more trophies than any other team in England.
Redeeming Qualities: Liverpool are one of the most famous clubs in England. They are well represented around the world with many fans in every part of the world. They also have a great captain in Steven Gerrard.
Buyer Beware: Big time bandwagon. The Reds finished a disappointing Seventh last year.
Briefing: After Everton, the Villains have been in top flight football the longest of any other team at 100 years in a row. They play in Birmingham and are the most successful team in that city.
Redeeming Qualities: Villa is one of the teams that have no threat of a band wagon, and also are not really a threat to be relegated. They have a solid rivalry with Birmingham City called "The Second City Derby."
Buyer Beware: Nothing too bad here other than the fact that they can't make that final step into the top four.
Briefing: Known as Manchester's "other team," the Citizens have been working hard, and spending harder to make sure that moniker disappears soon. With a rich Sheikh owner, City has bought some of the biggest names in football in the past few years.
Redeeming Qualities: Definitely one of the most talented teams in the league. They have a fierce rivalry with Man Utd. Every game is an adventure to watch with City, because of all their talent.
Buyer Beware: They have decided to start buying rather than developing, and are quickly turning into one of the league's biggest villains.
The Top 4
Briefing: Spurs are another London team and play their home matches at White Hart Lane. They have qualified to play in the UEFA Champions League for the upcoming campaign.
Redeeming Qualities: Playing Champions League Football certainly is a plus and Spurs are the only team in the Big 4 that won't have a big bandwagon. Being a London team, Tottenham gets a good deal of attention from the media. They have a fierce rivalry, known as the North London Derby, with Arsenal.
Buyer Beware: Spurs fluctuate within the league and are known as one of the more inconsistent clubs.
Briefing: The Gunners have won 13 titles in the top division. They have also won 13 FA Cups. They are another one of the London sides. They play their home matches at Emirates Stadium in North London.
Redeeming Qualities: Arsenal seem to be the most well-liked of any of the "Big 4" by fans of other clubs. They have a lot of young talent, which they develop, and run a solid, classy club. They do have a loyal fan base.
Buyer Beware: Big time bandwagon and a lot of "pseudo" fans.
Briefing: The most recognizable name in the EPL. They have won the Premier League more than any other side, and have one of the best coaches of all-time in Sir Alex Ferguson. Their home ground, Old Trafford, is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the world.
Redeeming Qualities: They win. A lot.
Buyer Beware: Don't even think about it.
Briefing: The Blues are the defending Premier League and F.A. Cup champions. They play their games at Stamford Bridge in London.
Redeeming Qualities: They aren't Manchester United.
Buyer Beware: Bandwagonry!
There you have it. The 20 English Premier League teams broken down, and simplified.
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