Saturday, August 29, 2009

Picking an EPL Side

Until last year my soccer viewing was limited. I watched the World Cup, and I watched my kids' pee-wee teams. I watched the World Cup because I enjoy watching almost any sport that's played at a high level of skill and with a high level of passion. The World Cup qualifies on both counts. Of course, I watched my boys play because I love my boys! I'm not quite sure how this happened, but all three of my kids have played/are playing soccer. None have played organized basketball. None. Two have played baseball, and one played football. Like I said, how this happened I'm not sure, but it has.

Last year my cable provider provided me with a free preview of Setanta sports. I was able to watch EPL (English Premier League) soccer, as well as other top flight European leagues. I was hooked! Especially with the Premiership. I've actually become a fan of soccer. I used to think it was boring, with no where near enough scoring, but I've since come to appreciate the details of the game and the skills of the players. While the free preview of Setanta sports is long gone, ESPN has purchased the rights to broadcast one EPL game a week, and I've watched one contest on ESPN 360.

The rules of the game are not difficult, but I'm clueless in regards to strategy, formations, or even positions. Although, I do know who the goalie is! One aspect of the Premier League that is a brilliant idea is relegation. At season's end the three clubs at the bottom of the League are relegated to the next league down - the Championship - and the top three teams from that league are promoted to the Premiership. This idea should be imported to all North American sports. (Of course, that would mean the Cincinnati Bengals would be relegated to the Canadian Football league, but that's where they belong!)

My current dilemma is in choosing an EPL side to follow and support. I've narrowed my choices down to four teams. I've not considered Manchester United because they are too obvious of a selection. That would be like a Brit choosing to follow the Yankees. I don't want to ride the bandwagon, but I don't want to choose a team that flirts with relegation every year.

Here are my four finalists. They are listed in a particular order, from most to least likely.

First is Arsenal. The bandwagon potential is really high with this club - The Gunners - because they are a perennial top four team in the EPL. Still, I like what I've read about them, and I like what I know about Arsene Wenger, their coach (even though he's French). Plus, I just love their logo.

My second option is Manchester City. This team is intriguing to me because they are the cross-town rivals of Manchester United. Being an American I love the underdog, and Man City will most likely forever be in the shadow of United. Although, the club has spent an immense amount of money this year in signing top talent, including players from United, and they are undefeated at this early stage in the season. I think their home and away "kit" (that's English for "uniform") is sweet, but I hate their nicknames - The Blues or The Citizens.

Option number three is Tottenham Hotspur. What intrigues me most about this team is the low bandwagon potential. They have started this campaign rather well, but they just missed relegation last season. Their main sponsor is a casino, so that rules out buying any of their gear. Dianna would consider that a plus. It's a negative for me. Their nicknames are stupid - Spurs or Lilywhites (that's not a typo). Evidently, the nicknames of EPL teams is nothing like pro teams in the states, with several teams having multiple monikers. Another negative for this team is that Arsenal is their biggest rival, and I'm leaning toward the Gunners.

Finally, and purely for sentimental reasons, I'm considering Fulham. By sentimental I mean that Fulham has had several Americans on their team in the past, including my favorite Brian McBride. Currently Clint Dempsey is on the squad and a solid contributor. Another plus is their main sponsor - LG - I've actually used and enjoyed their products in the past. I like their gear and colors too, but their nickname - The Cottagers - just sounds stupid.

Any suggestions?


Scott said...

Go with the Gunners...

Mike said...

Just go with Arsenal. It's the easy choice. I follow ManU.

Mike said...

EPL is the way to go. I can hardly stomach MLS.

Sarah said...

Brother, you are taking this way to seriously.

Anonymous said...

Arsenal all the way...

Travis said...

I'm heavily leaning towards the Gunners. Wish I could've watched their game against Man U last Saturday.

And I agree with you, Mike, about the EPL/MLS comparison. No comparison, really. Although, I have enjoyed watching the Galaxy play.

Sarah, I'm not taking this too seriously. One has to make sure that one chooses wisely about such things!