Premier League Soccer: You want to get into it, but who do you follow?

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Written by: Erik Lindquist

“I’m a stylish American, Professor. I’ve been trying to get into soccer since 2004.”

Jeff Winger from Community, the NBC sitcom that was sadly cancelled in 2015 after six glorious seasons, hit the nail on the head in terms of soccer’s reputation nowadays. Soccer is undoubtedly on the up-and-up here in the US. You want to get in on the action, but you’re not sure how. There are so many teams (20, to be exact), who do I support? There are several factors to take into account. Are you worried about being considered a “bandwagon” fan? Ultimately, do you care if your team wins? And, most importantly, are the jerseys cool?

I’ve found that the best way to get into watching a sport is picking a team to support. Week by week you’ll learn more about the team by watching them and who they play. I’ll do my best to outline the relatively relevant teams in the English Premier League, thus helping you choose a team to get the ball rolling on this process.  

I’ll discuss my favorite eight. No hard feelings to the other twelve.

Manchester United

Nickname: The Red Devils

Location: Manchester

Even if you haven’t watched a minute of soccer in your life, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Man U. I like to consider them the New York Yankees of the English Premier League. They’ve been around since the league’s inception, have oodles of cash, and every season, it feels as though it’s their title to lose. They’re brimming with talent and a great team to support, but the truth is, you either love them or you hate them. Jump on the Red Devil train if you like late-match drama and 90th minute winners.

Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners

Location: London

Under the leadership of the same coach for twenty years, Arsenal have the reputation for beautiful football. If you’re one to appreciate masterfully-executed passing sequences, Puma red and white jerseys, and a lot of frustration, choose the Gunners. While they haven’t had resounding success in recent years, they sure are fun to watch. Additionally, from my perspective, Arsenal has the largest following in the US. If you go with them, you’ll have plenty of comrades to enjoy match day with.

Liverpool

Nickname: The Reds

Location: Liverpool

Liverpool is yet another great prospect. Similar to Manchester United, they have a lot of history as a club. They’re famously supported by Daniel Craig, John Oliver, and LeBron James, and have “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a uniting anthem that fans sing before games. The Reds are characterized by an incredible offense but a laughable defense, it’s an absolute thrill to follow them.

Manchester City

Nickname: The Cityzens or City

Location: Manchester

Manchester City is a team characterized by big spenders who are always in the title race. This wasn’t always the case, though. They had a very volatile past until a foreign private equity company, The Abu Dhabi United Group, purchased the team and poured a huge amount of money into the squad and turned it around (the group has done the same with New York FC in the MLS). Their sky-blue jerseys, possession-based football, and top-tier players and manager make them an incredibly entertaining team to be behind.

 

Tottenham Hotspur

Nickname: The Spurs

Location: London

Tottenham was put on the radar of American fans when the Premier League put out a hysterical commercial with Jason Sudeikis as their manager. For whatever reason, it feels as though they’re slept on. The Spurs are a great prospect for your team. They’re young, have a cool name and cool jerseys, have rising stars, have the top-scoring Korean player in Premier League history, score a lot, and are competitors.

Lovable teams that (probably) won’t win

Everton

Nickname: The Toffees

Location: Liverpool

Everton is a great team to choose if you’re in it for the long haul. The club recently went on a spending spree after selling their top goal-scorer, but the investment has yet to pay off. Additionally, they often have the most American players in comparison to other Premier League teams (having Tim Howard, the US national team’s celebrated goalkeeper, until very recently). The Toffees have a lot of heart, it’s apparent that they leave it all on the pitch every match. An endearing prospect for your Premier League team pick.

Huddersfield Town

Nickname: The Terriers

Location: Huddersfield

Having spent the entirety of their club’s history in the lower-tiers of English football, Huddersfield Town was promoted and is currently amid their first season in the English Premier League. They’ve been doing incredibly well so far this season, having beaten several mid-table teams as well as an incredible upset against the Red Devils. It’s a great team to choose if you’re looking for a fresh start (and a little afraid of looking like a bandwagon fan).

Leicester City

Nickname: The Foxes

Location: Leicester

The world is still in awe of Leicester’s miraculous and unprecedented Premier League victory in the 2014-2015 season. While it didn’t get an abundance of attention in the United States, their victory was arguably the biggest upset in sports. Their team was valued (in terms of the cost of the players and manager) at fractions of what other teams had. The team’s lethal counterattacks make their games consistently entertaining; they have proved that no game is in the bag, no matter how big their opponent is.

Concluding Thoughts

While there are many other prospects that I didn’t address (Chelsea is a fantastic team but I generally dislike them due to my bias; Bournemouth has the youngest Premier League manager, score lots of goals, and have a small but energetic stadium and fan base; Burnley; Southampton; and others), I think it’s best to back teams that consistently win. It makes it far less of a chore to watch the games when the team you support is a competitor!

Final picks: Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Everton.