How to Pick an English Premier League Team
It’s often said that supporting a soccer team is a bit like a marriage. I could trot out the old cliches about “ups and downs” and “twists and turns.” But to be honest, some marriages don’t last, some people have two or three marriages in a lifetime. You can only ever have one soccer team, can’t you!?
So for those new to the game and looking for an English Premier League (EPL) team to support, here’s some pointers on how to make the best choice when it comes to supporting a team that suits you. But be warned, you get one choice and one choice only. Switching your allegiances is an unforgivable offense when it comes to the EPL!
Picking the right team depends on what are you looking for from your Premier League side. So here’s a selection of teams that may fit in with some of the most popular answers (other teams are of course available):
“I want to see my team spend big and win trophies”:
Manchester City – City joined an elite group last season after lifting the Premier League title for the first time in their history, and they certainly won’t be going away any time soon. The club has a seemingly bottomless pit of cash to invest in new players and look set to dominate for the foreseeable future. If you are looking to take in a match day, expect plenty of banter from the City faithful, who offer some of the most humorous chants in the country. The modern supporters football club.
Manchester United – I imagine even those who are complete Premier League virgins will have heard of Manchester United. Arguably the biggest soccer club in the world, having enjoyed unrivaled success on the English domestic front, United came tantalizingly close to a twentieth domestic championship last season before being denied by their nearest and not so dearest rivals City. Expect attacking soccer and late drama aplenty if you chose to follow the Red Devils. They will challenge on all fronts.
Chelsea – After securing their maiden European Cup success last term, the London outfit will surely be better placed to challenge on the domestic front after finishing in an unfamiliar sixth place last season. They have already strengthened for next season with the signing of the much coveted Eden Hazard. Stamford Bridge stadium is located in one of the most scenic areas of the capital but this unfortunately means that ticket prices can be expensive if you’re looking to sample a match whilst visiting London.
“My priority is to be entertained, results come second”:
Arsenal – The Gunners have undoubtedly played the most eye-catching soccer throughout the Premier League years. If you want to see soccer exhibited as “the beautiful game”, then Arsenal is the English side for you. But without a trophy in the last seven campaigns, don’t expect immediate success from Arsene Wenger’s side. Wenger has been notoriously reluctant to loosen the purse strings since Arsenal’s arrival at the Emirates stadium, but they have a plethora of young players breaking into the side which could reignite their charge towards silverware.
Swansea City – Under Brendan Rodgers, Swansea took the Premier League by storm last season with their exciting brand of possession soccer. Whilst Rodgers has moved on to Liverpool, under new manager Michael Laudrup they will no doubt look to play the role of great entertainers again. As the only Welsh club in the EPL, they could offer a different perspective to any new fans looking to get behind a team. After a mid-table finish last campaign, they will be looking towards a top half finish next year.
Wigan Athletic – If drama is what you are after, then Wigan might be a good team to follow. They tend to be written off before the beginning of every campaign as certainties for relegation. But manager Roberto Martinez always manages to steer them clear of the trap-door, with a free flowing, open brand of football to compliment them. It will be interesting to see how they fare after the speculation linking Martinez with a move away from the club this summer just gone.
“I want to see some American players plying their trade”:
Everton – USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard plies his trade between the sticks for Everton FC and he’s performed fantastically well since his arrival at the club. If you are to pick Everton and intend on attending a game to get behind the Toffees, then it may be better to come over during the second half of the season, as they tend to pick up for the end of season run in. Maybe the arrival of Landon Donovan on loan from January up until March the past couple of seasons has had something to do with this? Expect to hear chants of “U-S-A!” at Goodison next year.
Fulham – One of the best players in the EPL last campaign was Fulham’s and America’s Clint Dempsey, leading the Fulham fans to chime how he “makes Drogba look…” well, you know. Fulham played some excellent soccer last season under Martin Jol and Fulham’s resolve to keep Dempsey will be tested as he has been linked with some more illustrious clubs. Craven Cottage is undoubtedly my favorite ground in the Premier League, very traditional and situated literally on the bank of the River Thames. It would definitely be my pick for anyone looking to take in an EPL game whilst in London.
“I’m in this for the long haul, I want to see my team slowly build something great”:
Liverpool – Like Manchester United, Liverpool is a club steeped in history and world wide support, but — unlike United — is no longer the force the club once was after a few seasons of uncertainty. They are at the beginning of a new era with the club’s American owners throwing their weight behind new manager Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is probably the most famous soccer song out there, so anyone who’s looking to support The Reds could start by going out and buying the Gerry & The Pacemakers record. The Anfield stadium atmosphere can be second to none for Liverpool’s big games.
Tottenham – With manager Harry Redknapp no longer at the helm, it’s a new dawn for Spurs too. They boast some world class players in Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, which made for some very entertaining soccer at White Hart Lane last year. Any new fans of Spurs should expect some new faces going in and coming out of the club, but should not be deferred as the owners have always backed their managers in the transfer market. Expect some high class players to be coming into the Spurs side as they look to build on their fourth place finish last campaign.
Newcastle United – If you have a fanatical personality and intend on living and breathing soccer, then you would fit right in amongst the Newcastle faithful. The club invested wisely in the side last year after the £35m sale of striker Andy Carroll. This resulted in an unexpected charge towards the top four which ultimately fell just short. They are backed all over the country by the “Toon Army” and their fans remain as passionate as any, despite the absence of silverware from their trophy cabinet for half a century. Their chief scout has been handed a new ten year contract, so expect to see plenty of exciting new talent donning the famous Black and White. They look to be building towards a bright future under manager Alan Pardew.
Queens Park Rangers – the R’s will no doubt splash the cash this summer in an attempt to build on their survival in the top flight last season. They showed significant improvements under Mark Hughes and he has vowed to steer them clear of any future relegation battles. They definitely look to be a side on the up and play an attractive style under Hughes. Another alternative option for anyone who is looking to pick a team who are not one of the more fashionable London clubs
Sunderland – The Mackems will be looking to start this campaign in the manner in which they finished the former one. Martin O’Neill completely transformed the mood around the club when he replaced Steve Bruce and guided his side to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup and a top half finish. A feat made all the more impressive after a lackluster start under the previous manager. O’Neill integrated young talents like James McClean and Jack Colback into the first eleven, so they should go on to develop even more next season. If you want to see the passion of the Premier League summed up in one game, then you should look no further than a Sunderland/Newcastle derby.
“I’m a new supporter so why not support a team returning to the EPL?”:
Southampton – Southampton completed their second successive promotion last campaign and returned to the Premier League after recovering from the perils of administration four years ago. With their ambitious manager Nigel Adkins and exciting EPL debutants Adam Lallana and Ricky Lambert, the Saints supporters could see their side surprise many a big name in their first season back in the top flight.
Reading – After losing out to Swansea in last season’s playoff final, you would be forgiven for thinking that Reading may have spent the last campaign wallowing in their misfortune. However, under manager Brian McDermott they stormed to the top of the Championship and secured their promotion to the Premiership with relative ease. They will be looking to replicate the fortunes of the three promoted sides last season (all of whom avoided relegation) but could ultimately face a struggle to stay afloat in English football’s top division. Expect drama a-plenty come the end of the season if you chose Reading as your team.
“I want to support a team who are looking to make a fresh start with a new manager”:
Aston Villa – a club with a decorated history, a world famous stadium and passionate backing. They have fallen on tough times recently, selling key players and being involved in relegation battles. There is cause to be optimistic for Villa fans however, Paul Lambert seems to be a popular choice as manager amongst the supporters and has an impressive track record too. He will be looking to take them back to challenging in the upper echelons of the league, were they have spent the majority of their Premier League years. If your looking for a ‘proper’ English club, then Villa could be the right fit for you.
Norwich City – Before their foray into the Premier League last season, Norwich had achieved successive promotions under the since departed manager Paul Lambert. They had a solid first season back in the top flight and stayed up comfortably despite many doubting their abilities to do so. But with Lambert’s departure to Aston Villa, it is the beginning of a new era for the Canaries, with the popular Chris Houghton taking charge next season. Norwich supporters should expect to see plenty of hungry young players given the chance to impress under the new manager.
West Bromwich Albion – Steve Clarke will take the reigns for the new campaign after former boss Roy Hodgson took England hot-seat. Clarke has been lauded as an excellent assistant manager throughout his career, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in a managers role, especially having to follow Hodgson who done such an impressive job at the club. It would be difficult to argue however, that Clarke has not deserved his chance. The Baggies look to have finally cemented their Premier League status and could push into the top half of the table with some shrewd signings and a good start under the new manager.
“The EPL is known worldwide for its physicality, I want my team to play in that manner”:
Stoke City – If the above question is what your looking for from your EPL side then Stoke is definitely the team for you to follow. The manager Tony Pulis has been much maligned for Stoke’s style of play, but the club has more than consolidated their place in the top flight. Stoke’s Britannia Stadium is hailed as the loudest in the country creating an intimidating atmosphere for visiting sides. Whilst once famous for Rory Delap’s missile throw ins, The Potters have improved their style of football (demonstrated by the potential signing of Michael Owen) and have relished the challenge of being underdogs on numerous occasions since their promotion to the top flight.
West Ham United – The Irons are an English club steeped in history and tradition. Their fans will tell you that “West Ham won the World Cup” for England in 1966 after the successes of Geoff Hurst & Bobby Moore. Whilst being known as the “Academy of Football” for many a year, the current manager Sam Alardyce is renowned having his teams play in a way in which they are a physical match for any team and a side that are very tough to beat. Expect to hear their anthem ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ if your looking to take in a game at Upton Park.
How did you chose your Premier League team? How would you sell your side to new supporters? What other teams should new fans look at supporting?
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