Editor’s note: In an interview with The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning last week on Beyond The Pitch podcast, the Irish pundit explained how the Premier League is three divisions in one: The top six, the bottom six and everyone in between. EPL Talk’s Jack Tomczuk did five better and categorized the league into eight buckets.
The 2011-2012 Barclay’s Premier League can be broken into several categories. While this isn’t a prediction of who will end up where in the table, it instead groups clubs together, and makes the Premier League easier to digest for the new soccer fan.
Here are the eight different categories:
1. The Frontrunner: Manchester United. The Red Devils are the consensus pick to repeat as champions. Sir Alex Ferguson is undoubtedly the best manager in England, and his squad is adding depth. The acquisitions of Ashley Young and Phil Jones show that United are determined to challenge for Champions League and Premier League glory.
2. Deep Pockets: Manchester City and Chelsea. Both of these clubs are serious contenders to win the Premier League. Both ownership groups used their financial might to catapult up the table. City have added Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy. Chelsea have bought young stars like Romelu Lukaku to go along with Fernando Torres.
3. Looking to Reclaim Past Glories: Liverpool and Arsenal. Both of these storied clubs are in trophy droughts. Liverpool have not won silverware since 2006, while Arsenal’s last trophy came in 2005. Liverpool have added Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing, while Arsenal are still dealing with the Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri sagas. Both clubs will want a top-4 finish.
4. The Outsiders: Tottenham. Spurs find themselves on the outside looking in. Luka Modric may still leave White Hart Lane, and Harry Redknapp has still not added a top quality striker. Tottenham will find it difficult to qualify for the Champions League.
5. In the Middle: Aston Villa, Everton, Fulham, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, and Bolton. This group of clubs will reside in the middle of the table. Aston Villa and Sunderland have added key pieces to their squad. West Brom will be looking to build on the success they had during the second half of last season. Do not be surprised if one or more of these clubs makes a deep cup run.
6. In the Fight: Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic. Both of these clubs expect to be in yet another grueling relegation battle. Wigan lost Charles N’Zogbia to Aston Villa, so Roberto Martinez will look for one of his young players to step up. Wolves have added players like Roger Johnson and Doug De Vries, but Mick McCarthy’s side will still be fighting relegation.
7. Drama Clubs: Blackburn and Newcastle. Both of these clubs have gone through turmoil this summer. Blackburn is plagued by their disillusioned owners, while Newcastle are in hot water over the Joey Barton Twitter drama. Newcastle have already lost Joey Barton, but they have brought in Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, and Gabriel Obertan. Blackburn could sink to the bottom of the table very quickly.
8. The Newcomers: Norwich City, Swansea City, and QPR. The newly-promoted clubs will have to prove that they can handle Premier League competition. Going into the summer, many believed that the QPR would storm into the Premiership. After an offseason of confusion, QPR will now have a fight on their hands to stay up. Many neutral supporters will be rooting for Norwich and Swansea. Norwich looks to be the strongest of the clubs after bringing in six players so far this summer.
In conclusion, this Premier League season should be very exciting. There are questions to be answered at the top, middle, and bottom of the league. Are Man City ready to take the next step? Are Arsenal serious title contenders? Will Swansea’s style of play make them the next Blackpool? Can Fulham prosper under new manager Martin Jol? How will the Joey Barton situation play out at St James Park?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments and enjoy the season.