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The Beginner’s Guide to the English Premier League

If you’re new to the Premier League this season or new to EPL Talk, we’re glad you found us and even more excited you’ve been drawn into the Premier League, easily the most entertaining and exciting domestic football league in the world.

Maybe you caught some recent matches during the 2010 World Cup and were intrigued by a certain player or maybe you’ve got some friends or family interested in soccer. Regardless of the root of your new found hobby, passing interest or new found passion, it’s possible you’ve got a few questions concerning the basic rules, various competitions involved or resources needed to further your knowledge of the game. If so, you’ve come to the right place as I’ll outline all the pertinent information you need to enjoy the 2010-2011 Barclays Premier League season.

So you’re ready to enjoy your first Premier League season? First off, you need to know a little history about the Premier League. Originally founded as the FA Premier League in 1992 when clubs in the Football League First Division decided to break away from the The Football League, the Premier League (now officially the Barclays Premier League) soon became the world’s richest football league when they cashed in on a huge television deal to broadcast matches the world over.

Twenty teams make up England’s top flight domestic league while every year the teams who finish in the bottom three (18th, 19th and 20th) are relegated, or sent down to the league below now called the Npower Championship. Oppositely, the teams that finish first and second in the Championship (and a third team who wins the Championship playoffs) gain promotion to the Premier League and have their chance to play against some of the best footballers in the world.

Promotion and relegation is unlike anything currently in American sports where bottom finishing teams get rewarded for their poor performance with a high pick in an amateur draft. Relegation adds excitment to every game played as it ensures games throughout the entire season leading up to its culmination are just as important as a match featuring the top two teams battling for the title. Just think of how exciting it can be watching two teams literally fight for their survival.

Each team plays 38 games over the course of a long and arduous season that runs from August through May. League play is comprised of playing each team twice, once home and once away, while a Champion is decided based on point accumulation over the course of the season. A win is worth 3, draw worth 1 and a loss is worth 0.

All 20 teams in the Premier League also compete in various Cup competitions throughout the season. The oldest and most popular is the FA Cup which is a single elimination tournament with a famous piece of silverware awaiting the last team standing. Teams in the Premier League also compete in the Carling Cup, or the Football League Cup, yet this Cup competition is deemed slightly less important (but has displayed some pretty great games over the last few years) than matches in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

The Premier League teams who finish in spots 1-4 also have the distinguished opportunity to compete in the UEFA Champions League (formerly the European Cup), Europe’s historic knockout competition which attempts and succeeds at crowning a club Champion of Europe each year. Champions League spots are highly sought after, desired and cherished by the clubs who currently hold them. A large sum of television money is involved in competing in the Champions League where players from all over the world dream to compete against each other. Last year’s final saw Inter Milan of Italy defeat Bayern Munich of Germany, but English teams have been incredibly successful in the Champions League especially in the last decade.

Running second fiddle to the Champions League is the UEFA Europa League. Often over looked as a secondary competition but producing quality football in its own right, Premier League teams that finish 5-7 qualify for this European competition and compete against other clubs across Europe similar to the structure of the Champions League.

Now that you know a little about the structure of football in England, at least the top flight, you’ll want to stay constantly connected to your team either through the Internet, television, podcasts and more. If you’re reading this in America, you may not know that the Premier League is readily available on multiple platforms that usually broadcast all ten games each weekend. Check with your local cable or satellite provider, but matches can be found on ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, and FSC+ on satellite television. On the internet, ESPN3.com and FoxSoccer.tv are legal and impressive online sites where Premier League matches are streamed live and on replay each weekend.

Podcasts are a must for new or old Premier League fans. Since there are a myriad of free shows at a soccer fan’s disposal, here are a few trusted shows and old favorites.

  • EPL Talk podcast – found in iTunes or here at EPL Talk.com. Multiple shows each week featuring Richard Farley, Laurence McKenna and Kartik Krishnaiyer.
  • Chappers’ Premier League podcast – free in iTunes and released each Sunday. Features Mark Chapman and former Premier League ref Graham Poll among others.
  • Guardian’s Football Weekly – free in iTunes and released each Monday and Thursday. Hosted by James Richardson and various Guardian journalists such as Rob Smyth and Barry Glendenning.
  • BBC’s 606 Football Phone In and World Football Phone In – Available for free in iTunes and released over the weekend. The World Football Phone In is definitely a must listen each week.
  • The Football Ramble – released once a week, usually on Wednesday’s, this show is often times quite fast paced, funny and highly entertaining.

Some of the best news and analysis of the Premier League can be found here on EPL Talk where bloggers and writers chronicle the Premier League through the eyes of Americans watching the game at the aid of modern technology and through English bloggers who see the game first hand.

While the big papers in England all have online sites, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mail Online and more boast some of the best English football journalists in the world. For the newer supporter however there are a number of good fan run blogs for you to discover across the Internet. Since there are too many to name, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section below.

Now that you have an idea on where and how to view the Premier League and stay up to date with all the analysis, you may find it daunting in actually picking a team to follow. Don’t worry. My first and really only tip for you is to watch a few weeks worth of matches and simply go with your first true instinct regardless of who it is. Don’t avoid a top 4 team for avoidance sake.

So many times I hear new football fans bash the idea of supporting a traditionally successful team such as Manchester United, Liverpool or a team such as Chelsea who’ve recently enjoyed success. Why is this? If a certain player, style of play, manager or goal scored appeals to you, go for it. Don’t not pick a team you like because you’re afraid you’d be labeled a band wagon fan. It’s your right to follow who you want and you’ll simply regret not picking them later on in the season when they win a trophy. The top teams aren’t at the top because they’re cute. These teams consistently play some of the best football in Europe, so if you’re drawn to United or Arsenal, enjoy your football. If you find a smaller club like Fulham, Blackburn, West Ham or Birmingham City, enjoy them as well.

Also, get involved in some form of online or local football community. Message boards, comments sections and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are a great way to learn and discuss the game. You can follow EPL Talk on Twitter and there is always good discussion and debate happening in the comments section of most EPL Talk articles.

Lastly, show a little respect for the game. If you’re new to English soccer and the Premier League, take some time after you’ve chosen who you’ll be supporting and conduct some research on the history of that club. Go to your teams official website where you should be able to find a history page and read it. Buy a book, watch a documentary, or subscribe to a fanzine. The history of English football is a grand one in which some of the best footballers, managers, supporters and stories have all been a part of. You’ll appreciate the now a little more once you know where and how your new found club got to where they are today.

Feel free to use this forum as your personal message board if you’re new to the Premier League. Ask questions, leave comments or suggestions and also utilize the tabs at the top of this site to check the TV Schedule, find Podcasts, order a shirt or find out about great football books. Good luck with your new found love. Supporting a football club can have its ups and downs, but the ups easily out weight the downs as you’ll soon find out.

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76 Responses to The Beginner’s Guide to the English Premier League

  1. Patrick says:

    Jesse, I stopped reading when you said that the Mail had some of the finest football journalists. They are the laziest, loosest with the facts, tabloid in all of England. Its like suggesting The Sun to a Liverpool fan. Not to mention that 5-7 do not automatically qualify for the Europa Cup. 5-6 do. the 7th spot could go to the winner of the Carling Cup if not a top team, or the runner up in the FA Cup. Surly you where painting a broad brush stroke, but I wanted to be clear.

    Also, add some meat to these stories. You mention team fight hard for CL spots and there is a huge payout. Why not give real numbers. 941 million was dished out to clubs last season. Man U was the highest English earner at 70 million in Champions League monies because of English TV rights deals.

    Took me 10 seconds to find that out.

    • Jesse Chula says:

      Sure, but think of a totally new person/viewer to the Premier League. They may not be that interested in the specific details of the money aspect just yet. If it intrigues them, they’ll then seek out that info on their own. This was a broad outline as I stated it would be and a piece that was already approaching 1600 words. I didn’t want it to hit 2000.

      Just to know that a lot of money is involved paints a fairly clear picture.

      As for the Mail, ever heard of Martin Samuel?

      And yes again, in regards to the Europa League, I know who qualifies and how, but that was a broad overview of it. New PL fans aren’t likely to be drawn to the EL just yet. That will come in another yr or so. However 5, 6 and 7 all qualified this past yr, just a quick example.

      • patrick says:

        I love Martin Samuel… But sadly he has always written for shit papers.

        and I think figures illustrate how insane the money is… Big money to some could be a million….

        Lets Not forget Millwall’s trip to Europe when they reached the FA Cup final. They still talk about it in the Caravans parked by your local round about.

        • Martin Samuel? Are you having a giggle mate? Possibly one of the most hypocritical journalists out there. Lazy and only interested in talking obvious topics.

          If anybody from America would actually like to get an intelligent view on the Premier League, go to the Guardian or the Independent’s websites. The guys there actually research and do proper interviews with players and managers, not just some half arsed lazy hack job.

          • The Gaffer says:

            Martin Samuel has received more best football writer awards than most of the writers at The Guardian and Independent combined. Whether you like him or not, he is well respected in the industry.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

        • Martin Samuel? Are you having a giggle mate? Possibly one of the most hypocritical journalists out there. Lazy and only interested in talking obvious topics.

          If anybody from America would actually like to get an intelligent view on the Premier League, go to the Guardian or the Independent’s websites. The guys there actually research and do proper interviews with players and managers, not just some half arsed lazy hack job.

          P.s. You’re really selling the game to America with the picture you’ve chosen there. Perhaps a lineup of Soccer AM honeys would have been more enticing?

    • Mike Fahey says:

      This comment is not intended to be a negative view of Jesse Chula’s article, which is a solid piece of work. However, money is the life blood of all professional sports, soccer included. One great source of information in this regard is a blog by an expat English veteran of the finance industry who lives in Switzerland. Below is a brief excerpt from a recent piece about Glasgow Celtic. The blog can be found at swissramble.blogspot.com
      “The Champions League revenue distribution depends upon a number of factors, but based on last year’s figures it is worth around £14 million – even if you lose all six group games. Each team is guaranteed £6 million for participation plus around £8 million from the TV (market) pool. There are also bonuses of £0.7 million for each win and £0.3 million for each draw in the group stage plus other performance bonuses for each further stage reached.”

  2. tonyspeed says:

    that picture is disgusting. do you guys have some sick fixation on new castle united beer bellies.

  3. Matt says:

    For all new Villa fans, check out the follow blog. There is always fantastic discussion between hundreds of fans.

    http://www.thevillablog.co.uk/

  4. Footballfool says:

    Thanks for the article. Being new to the sport, I definitely appreciated it !
    The picture – not so much. : )

  5. Stacy Richardson says:

    You might have just said “This year clubs placed 5 through 7 qualified for the Europa League,” rather than giving the false impression that three clubs must necessarily qualify.

  6. Peter says:

    While I don’t disagree with your statement of Mail writers being good for sport, there are far better writers in others. The Guardian is by far the best followed by the Independent, the times & the telegraph. The mail is quite lowly in contrast. Plus you have, possibly inexplicably, advertised a paper, to newcomers of this country & sport, that deals with sensationalist stories that are racist, homophobic, sexist & deeply right-wing not to mention extremely backward.

  7. Jason says:

    Cut the guy some slack. He writes a solid article trying to help out the newbies and some of you have to nit pick the shit out it. I’d like to see you guys do a better job.

  8. … and most importantly, apparently, if you want to support Newcastle, you’ll have to put on an extra 300 pounds.

  9. Tom says:

    4th place gets in the Champions’ League qualifying round. 1-3 are straight into the group phase. The qualifying phase is a home and home (total goals) against a team from another country for a spot in the group phase. It is more difficult now than in the past- both Spain and Italy’s 4th place teams did not qualify.

    Thanks for the article. I’m goint to email this article to a couple of friends who’ve got more interested after the World Cup.

  10. Dave C says:

    Anyone notice that the fat topless guy has a pair of goalie gloves in his hands?

    I guess Harper has really let himself go now that he doesn’t have to compete with Shay Given for a starting place. He should at least wear a shirt though!

  11. Martin says:

    After watching the 2010 World Cup, I became very interested in the English Premier League. Living in America (Chicago) I was drawn to the EPL because of the simple ease of following the teams. On my search for finding a team, I looked over every team’s history that are currently in the top flight via wikipedia and the leagues website. Compared playing styles, jersey’s, players, history, etc.

    I was almost immediately drawn to Arsenal after watching some youtube clips. There was one video in particular, a season review montage that really hooked me. Whoever made that should get credit for reeling me in. I really like their playing style and their jerseys, a classic look. I gravitated to them for also really being a financially sound team. They are a team that tries to build from within and not simply buy their wins with exorbitant transfers.

    I’ve watched all of their preseason and regular season games this season, either via stream or on ESPN2. Was lucky they were on ESPN2 for two successive weeks before the international break. I haven’t been this excited for a new sport/team since the mid 80′s when I first started watching the Chicago Cubs. I can’t wait for the day when I can experience a game at The Emirates.

    I will suggest that any new fan that is also a gamer should pick up the latest EA Sports soccer game, FIFA 11. Being from America, I’m used to measuring an athlete’s “greatness” with stats. In soccer, you can’t really measure how good someone like Vermalaen is from a boxscore. So, I intend to use FIFA 11 player/attribute ratings to help me measure how good a player is beyond just goals and assists. That way I can better understand what’s going on besides simply trying to stop the other team from scoring.

    I have also found a ton of Arsenal blogs. After bookmarking dozens of them, I’ve settled on a few chosen ones. I’ll share the ones I follow if anyone is interested.

    I look forward to following this blog to help keep me up to date on what’s going on outside of Arsenal. You’ve earned a new fan and reader.

    • Nick says:

      Martin,
      With a few minor differences you sound like me last year. I re-discovered the game when I watched a game at my brother-in-law
      s house. I became completely locked on to Fox Soccer Channel, and at first, like Jesse said I just watched all the teams,was drawn to Man U, Stoke City and Everton, mainly Everton. Then I watched a Champions League game one night in which Arsenal was playing I don’t even know who, and was mesmerized by the passing, especially van Persie (pre-ankle), Arshavin and Fabregas. I’ve been supporting them ever since, waking up to arseblog, watching on Fox, foxsoccertv, ESPN 2 and 3, and Pirate streams when necessary– all listed btw the day of each match on The Gunning Hawk. I know what you mean when you said you feel like you did when you discovered the Cubs. I had the exact thought except my team was the Mets.

      I realized how much I hated watching NFL, NBA and baseball games either live or on TV because of all the TV timeouts. The NFL commercials are the worst in every way–content and frequency. Sportsmanship is non-existent really, and has no status.

      Just like Jesse said in this post, when I understood what relegation was– having become familiar with the concept from my 10 year-old’s soccer league– I realized how exciting it made the Premier League. The teams at the bottom were fighting as hard as the teams at the top!!! and the teams in the middle were fighting for domestic cups and the Europa League. Genius!!! American Sports are boring in comparison as the only fight is at the top. The bottom team owners can just sit back, pocket their profits and not re-invest in upgrading the team because they can’t get thrown out of the league– like Peter Angelos, Bud Selig et al.

      I was amazed at how hard I took Ramsey’s injury, how inspiring was Sol Campbell’s return, at the gallant battle that was the first Barcelona game, and at the toll it took. I found out that Theo Walcott is “An Englishman on Arsenal”, and that Arsenal are disliked by many. I read “Fever Pitch”, and watch Fans Forum on Arsenal TV every Friday. I too want to go to a game at the Emirates very much, in fact that desire drives me in my work.

      My daughter asked me if we could support another team now that the injuries are piling up, but alas, even though I love the more sensible stretched winger English style of other teams and get so frustrated when we continue to try to play it through the middle in one foot of space (not to mention poor Almunia), now there just is no turning back. They are my team, even if they are on another continent. Welcome.
      Victoria Concordia Crescit.

      • Martin says:

        Nick,

        I have been debating whether or not to get the package on Comcast with Fox Soccer channel. Is Fox Soccer Channel really worth it? I think I’d watch more games that way if I had it.

        I read Gunning Hawk as well. I use their Arsenal Interactive site when I have to stream games on the PC. I also like 7amkickoff, Just Arsenal News, Arseblog, Le Grove and The Offside’s Arsenal page. I get most of my info from those sites.

        I absolutely hate all the stoppages in the NBA and NFL. I think that’s what really draws me to soccer now. So much action and the mini battles that happen on the field are awesome.

        As for the relegation aspect, I love it. Wish we had it here in the States. I love how the EPL gives you a reason to watch no matter who your team is. There’s competition throughout the season up to the last day. I’m thinking of also rooting for a bottom team to get into the excitement of relegation. I really love Blackpool’s story/history.

        • Nick says:

          Martin,
          If you’re that into the game, esp the Arsenal, you will eventually get the Fox Soccer Channel. Comcast will also give you GolTV . Foxsoccer.tv carries the games that are broadcast on Fox Soccer Plus if that channel isn’t available on TV in your area. (You just need an HDMI or VGA cable to watch the stream on a larger TV, if you haven’t already done so. Quality from ESPN3 I found to be outstanding.) As you know all Arsenal games posted on Arsenal TV by midnight GMT on day of game. Definitely pay the $50 for Arsenal TV if you haven’t. It will give you something to watch during the summer and the interlulls, as all games are archived.

          You may want to consider if you really do want to get Fox Soccer Channel, as you are right, you definitely will watch a lot more football if you do. Maybe too much! You will probably get sucked into the Champions league, and other teams beside Arsenal. Definitely follow a non- top 4 team. And if they get relegated you can watch them on ESPN3 or foxsoccertv. One of those sites has the rights to Championship (2nd division) games. I rooted for Burnley last year. Blackpool’s a great choice, great story, the manager’s a riot!

          • Nick says:

            Martin,
            PS If you get Fox you can also follow the MLS. MLS gets a bad rap in some quarters but if you follow a team– I’ve been drawn to the Red Bulls as an old cosmos fan– the games are great. Besides it’s our league.

    • Aaron says:

      Martin – I’m an EPL newbie this year and spent quite a bit of time “finding” my team this past summer. I’ve settled on Arsenal and recently purchased my first Arsenal jersey. You mentioned that you have a couple of good Arsenal blogs that you follow – would you share those with me? I’ve found Arseblog, which I find informative and damn funny. Thanks, Aaron

  12. Matt says:

    Great article!!! My second season of EPL and I am more excited than ever. I printed the tv schedule and set my dvr every weekend. I used to be a big college (SEC) football fan but hardly watch anymore. EPL is so fast pace and once it starts you can’t even go to the john w/o missing something. American football is so start and stop it drives me crazy now! I loved the article and EPL Talk rules!!!!!

  13. soonerscotty says:

    This is a great article and well done…especially for noobs.

    The single hardest thing for me to figure out when I started following footy was how all the different cup competitions work. There is nothing like that set up in American sports and it was confusing as hell at first.

    • Martin says:

      I am confused at the various Cups as well. I won’t fully understand it until Arsenal goes through them.

    • Nick says:

      I agree. the Cups, team nicknames and all the phrases were new and confusing. It took me a month to figure out that “darby” meant rivalry. It’s spelled “derby”. The ArsenalUSA or Premier League site had a glossary of common EPL phrases.

      Also I wore out wikipedia and the Premier League website this year.

      • Martin says:

        I love listening to the English commentary and how they describe good and bad plays. I find myself using the same terms and phrases in everyday life. Also, the way Arsene Wenger says “quality” is hilarious.

        My favorite term in Week 1 was “howler” after Pepe let one in for the Gunners. I remember screaming “karma is a bitch ain’t it?” after his participation in the whole Cesc/Farca transfer spat.

        • Nick says:

          Martin,
          Yeah, Reyna’s howler was biblical. Don’t even start on the Cesc thing or this blog might blow up (after yesterday’s Sh**cross posts). How about, “dried and dusted”, or “it’s handbags” when a wimpy scuffle breaks out.

  14. Mike C says:

    My story is like many of those above – I’m going into my second season of really keeping up with the EPL full time. I had a passing interest for years before, and ended up following Man City for a number of reasons, including Reyna’s short stint there (a player I was familiar with from his national side tenure), and my favorite band’s (Oasis) affinity for them.

    Now I’ve been more excited about the opening of the EPL than the NFL, which is a major event for me personally. I still love American football, but the EPL has easily become #2, or 1-A, for me.

    I too like the promotion/relegation end of it, as well as the various cup competitions. Not that there aren’t problems with promotion/relegation systems as well.

    • Mike C says:

      Also, as a note, I completely agree with the assessment that has been stated on this blog previously that Man City has the best web presence by far in the EPL. It alone allows me to easily and quickly keep up with highlights, interviews, and a top notch match-tracker with good overall commentary. It has really helped foster my love for the club by giving me regular, new information.

      • Mike C says:

        Ack – sent too soon – by presence I mean official web-presence, at mcfc.co.uk, and their various twitter/flickr/facebook endeavors.

      • Nick says:

        Mike C,
        Their website is good. I followed it this summer so I could keep up with their US tour as I had tickets for their game and practice in Baltimore, against Inter. Really good.

        Seems like every team has a website and archived games broadcasts, even some teams in lower divisions like Leeds.

        • Mike C says:

          Nick -

          Agreed – it does seem like at least former EPL teams (like Leeds, etc) with the capital, or financially successful lower division teams also have solid archiving.

          My view of MCFC’s page is primarily from a web-design view – most the others are sponsered by the same companies that have the same layout, or at least several similar templates.

          I’m moving to the east coast soon, and hope that City will tour the US again! I was too far from any of there stops in good ‘ol New Mexico. About as far as you can get from good professional games (although there is a good college team here).

          • Nick says:

            Mike,
            The best sites for me are the ones that do the best at giving behind the scenes insight, and that tell you about the whole team:Academy, Reserves, training, scouting even. I’m on Arsenal’s site a lot and they interview players, Arsene, execs, legends, celebrity Arsenal supporters. I now get the monthly magazine delivered to my office, favorite column is one written by the team chef. the guy cooks all their meals at their training facility at London Colney. the massage therapist also writes good columns. US sports teams keep their distance from fans, the relationship between the supporters and English teams is very different. Last year during the snow storms Arsenal called off a game very late on the day of the match and put out the other teams fans (Bolton?, not sure) who had travelled to Lonon for the game. The other teams supporter organization complained to Arsenal and Arsenal refunded all the other teams supporter’s travel costs! I’m not saying that’s not Nanny state stuff, but the sheer respect that showed for the role of the supporter was outside of my experience.

            Don’t hold your breath for Man City to tour US again, that’s just my hunch. Harry hated it, and the team was exhausted, and said as much. I’d never want to see Arsenal run ragged traveling from city to city like that, playing on lousy sandy temporary pitches in the pre-season, much as I’d love for them to come to the US to play. I went to the Man City practice the day before the Inter game and it was just under 100 degrees and humid in Baltimore. OK for geckos maybe. Inter chose not to practice.

  15. Gi_Zen says:

    Great article. I’m a middle aged American who loved the last World Cup. A friend advised me to check out EPL so I got Fox Soccer channel and love it. Just concentrating on EPL action right now but going to look into the rest a’s I go on. Thanks again.

  16. Sir Guy says:

    Nice primer, Jesse.

  17. Ethan says:

    I’m currently 15, and living in New Jersey. When I was 1 until I was 6, however, lived in London due to my dad finding a rather good job there. Once I moved back, I sort of cut ties with the 5 years I lived there, undervaluing the fact that it was where I spent my truly formative years.

    The last couple of years, basically starting at the tail end of my Sophomore year of High School (I’m a Junior now), I started to revisit my English Past, as primitive as it was. It’s becoming an odd obsession of late, listening to English Bands, watching old English Films, and of course, watching the EPL.

    I never chose my own Premier League team really, because my stepdad is an Arsenal fan, and it sort of was forced upon me. I honestly have no problem with that, as I love nearly everything about Arsenal. What I do have a problem with is the myth that Supporting a Top 4 team makes you a bad EPL Fan. I think that as long as you display the right amount of commitment towards your chosen Club, there’s no harm being done. If you casually follow a Top 4 team just because you like rooting for a winner, that’s where some problems can arise.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that among other things, EPL Talk, Arseblog, and a few of the British Newspaper Websites (The Guardian, mostly) have really, really helped me along with my newly formed Football Allegiance.

    During the first 14 years of my life, I was a Die Hard Yankees fan, and I still am, but I’ve come to realize how pointless the majority of the baseball season is. No matter how DIe Hard, there’s no point in rooting for games that don’t ultimately matter, and to reiterate what Chula and a few commenters said, it’s great that in the Premier League, everything matters. I love the NFL as well, in fact, I love it on the level of the Premier League now. It’s gone from:

    1. Baseball
    2. Football
    3. All else

    To:

    1.EPL
    2.Football
    3.Baseball

    -While it saddens me that Baseball has dropped so low, I’m happy to know that Football’s become such a great part of my life.

    That is all.

  18. Nick says:

    Ethan,
    I know the baseball thing is tough, doesn’t make you less of a patriot though, chin up!

    You’re right about the pointlessness of the long baseball season. What I find even more pointless are playoffs. What’s the sense of the regular season if a wild card team can win the championship. Just a money suck.

    • Ethan says:

      I absolutely agree, and would like to add on to your point about the Money Suck. When you go to an American Sport Event, especially Baseball or Basketball, all you see are promotions, mascots, cotton candy prizes, loud, obnoxious pop music. It’s funny, as a 15 year old I sound like a grumpy old man, but it bothers me how the game is not the premier event. I understand that with the EPL it’s the ambiance of actually being at the match as opposed to the match itself quite often, but that ambiance is something authentic, where every little thing in a MLB or NBA stadium or arena is contrived, artificial, and maddening.

      • Nick says:

        Ethan,
        15? Glad to hear it’s not just me. The promotions are much worse and more annoying than the TV commercials if you watch at home. The game is definitely secondary, zero consideration for the fan experience. I don’t like live pro sports anymore.

      • Sir Guy says:

        Ethan…you are growing into an old fart real fast. But, hey, nothing wrong with that. I’m 65. :-D

      • Sir Guy says:

        Ethan….write your thoughts up into an article for EPLTalk and send it to thegaffer[at]epltalk[dot]com. You have great perspective.

        Re: American Sport Events, you couldn’t be more on the mark. I love college football with a passion, but this past weekend I had a really annoying experience.

        I was at the NC State v Western Carolina game and the loudspeakers simply took over every time there wasn’t action on the field, even between plays. The volume was obnoxious and a number of times the noise/music wasn’t even cut off before the play, for both teams.

        I go to or watch a game to be entertained by the action on the field, not by the freakin’ speakers or other extraneous crap! Give me the EPL where at least the noise is caused by the fans.

        Wow. Proud of myself for not starting any sentence with, “Back when I was a youngster…..” ;-)

        Keep your commentary coming.

        • Ethan says:

          Appreciate your feedback. Writing something for EPL Talk really would be great, we’ll see if anything inspires me to write in the next couple of weeks.

          Another thing, just to recommend to a beginner. I’d watch the Premier League Show on FSC Friday Nights… it basically sets a preview for each match, talking about what happened at each of the clubs over the week, and giving you the information you need for that weekends slate of matches. It’s really helped me lately.

  19. David says:

    I have a similar story to many of the ones listed above. After the US was knocked out of the World Cup, I went through a short period of disappointment. I thought I was frustrated by the US losing, which I was, but I was mainly annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to watch soccer for 4 more years. But then I discovered the EPL, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was quickly drawn to Everton, mainly through the Tim Howard connection and Donovan last year, and I have now read enough of their history that I feel like I’ve rooted for them for years. Despite their atrocious start, I truly feel like a die-hard and can’t wait to see a match at Goodison Park. So overall, great article, very helpful to fans like me, but I am still wondering about the Europa League qualification (especially b/c that looks to be Everton’s fate). I was under the impression that the spots went to 5th place then the FA Cup and Carling Cup winners (if they are not top 4). Is this true? If so, why would mid-to-lower level teams not treat the Carling Cup matches as hugely important with potential European play on the line? Anyway, thanks Jesse for the great article along with many other ones of yours that I have read thus far. Keep up the good work.

    • Jesse Chula says:

      David,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      In regards to your question concerning qualification for the Europa League: Yes, a team who wins either the FA Cup or Carling Cup will secure qualification to the EL. If a top 4 team wins either one of those Cups, the Champions League spot they’ve secured will take precedence over the EL.

      Also, the runners up in the FA Cup can also qualify for the EL. It really is a question that takes some deciphering to figure out based on the various outcomes of where teams finish combined with which teams win or advance to the final of the Cups.

    • The Gaffer says:

      David, I’m not an Everton supporter but I loved my visit to Goodison Park. Here are the photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epltalk/sets/72157594381822946/

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  20. Jesse Chula says:
  21. Nick says:

    I know others have said it but the headline picture is unfortunate, there’s more than a few folks I’ve successfully gotten to start following the EPL this season that I wanna link this too but I got a eyeroll “Are you serious?” when they saw the picture. Damn shame =

  22. Ethan says:

    Don’t understand the outrage towards the picture… found it humorous. Got to enjoy the Geordies.

  23. Aaron says:

    For anyone new or old to the game that would like to learn more about the tactics in football I would highly recommend zonalmarking.net.

    Also, worldfootballdaily.com is an american based, 5 day a week podcast that I listen to religiously. It is a pay podcast but its cheap and well worth it in my opinion.

    • Ethan says:

      Great mention as far as Zonal Marking… really helped me along with my knowledge of Tactics.

      I used to listen to WFD regularly when it was free but then the Steven Cohen/Liverpool controversy escalated and they went on hiatus, eventually making it a Pay Podcast. Being 15, I don’t have a Credit Card, and my parents sure as hell won’t pay for me to listen to a Podcast, so I’ve ruled that one out.

      • Nick says:

        For those with credit cards there is now a daily radio talk show on XM/Sirius satellite called The Football Show, from 7am-9am Eastern Time. The XM channel is 241, I forget the Sirius channel. The hosts are Charlie Stillitano, and Giorgio Chinaglia.

  24. Jason says:

    Official forum for american Chelsea supporters:

    http://www.chelseainamerica.com/bb

  25. titsmcgee says:

    First year epl fan as well…landed on Liverpool. They finished 7th last year so I don’t feel like I’m frontrunning.

    Must say that it’s been a truly gratifying experience to engulf myself in the whole thing: looking up history, youtube vids, tournaments, the players, schedules(woops..fixtures), forums. Wasn’t even on my radar 3 months ago and now I think I have the EPL on the same pedestal as the NBA and NFL.

    Sunday should be crazy: I plan on watching Liverpool at 11am and transitioning to NFL for the rest of the day after that…we’ll see what the wifey thinks of that

  26. E-Bone-Capone says:

    Anyone know of any good Arsenal Forums? The Commenters Section on Arseblog is damn good for all kinds of Gunner/Other Talk, but I’m looking for a real message board to discuss the Gunners. Any recommendations?

  27. Steven James says:

    Read Jonathan Wilson if you can digest it. Understanding football tactics and strategy is key to enjoying football. It’s the only way you can understand wtf they are doing out there. Wilson can be a difficult read, but if you invest the time and effort, soccer/football will open up to you as much as any sport that you already know intimately well. You can find his columns at the Guardian and CNNSI websites.

    • Nick says:

      Steven,
      Thanks much for that. This thread has been fantastic for this new American fan, an ad hoc English Football mentoring experience, by UKers for USers. Thanks to all.

  28. yahaya m.k says:

    Thanks all I want say is that keep the train moving this we shall by god grass clench the trouphy this seasion both
    UEFA champions league and retian the premaire leageu

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