It’s predictable as English weather, but I love the EPL
It is simultaneously the most gripping and the most frustrating sporting competition in the world.
The standard of play really is amazing (and yes, we should stop comparing it to the A League), and manages to captivate millions of fans across the world every season, even though they all pretty well know what the result will be.
I’m talking, of course, about the English Premier League. If you’re not an aficionado, then fear not. Two weeks into the season, here is a simple team guide to get you up to date.
The Premier League, or just “the Premiership”, is comprised of 20 teams. Only 4 of them (a.k.a. “the big four”) ever have a realistic chance of winning, which, to fans of the other 16 teams in the competition, is a sporting peculiarity is known as “f**king annoying”.
Over the next nine months, each team will play every other one twice. Whoever is on top of the table at the end of the season, wins. There is no ‘finals’ series, meaning that there’s very little room for luck or chance to play a role in the outcome. Hence the same teams win all the time. By which I mean… ALL. THE. TIME.
Don’t confuse the Premier League with separate competitions like the FA Cup (a knockout competition involving many hundreds of teams from all over England and Wales), the League Cup (same again, except only involving teams from the top 4 leagues) the Champions League (a pan-European competition for the top teams from the whole continent) and the Europa League (basically a poor man’s Champions League). I assume that has cleared up any confusion. Now for the teams…
Over the past 20 years, this team has pretty much won everything there is to be won, and will almost certainly win the Premiership again this season. Because people like pretending they’re lifelong supporters of teams that just so happen to win all the time, Manchester United has millions of fanatical supporters around the world. Only 14 of them, however, are native Mancunians.
Much of their success can be traced backed to the 25 year managerial tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson, who I’m pretty sure was conceived after his mum got tipsy and slept with a rod of plutonium, thus giving him a half-life of 80 million years. He is renowned for giving players the “Hairdryer Treatment” in the dressing room at half time, which is a technique I think he learned from Joh Bailey.
Manchester United’s most famous player is Wayne Rooney, who has a reputation far greater than any of his on-field performances, and also bears an alarming resemblance to Sloth from ‘The Goonies’.
If Manchester United doesn’t win the Premiership this year, then this team will. They drew much ire a few years back when they were bought by Russian oil baron Roman Abramovich, who made it his personal hobby to use his vast wealth to assemble the best team money could buy. Much to the annoyance of anyone who idealistically believes in a thing called “sport”, he has ushered in an era of great success for the club.
Money has, however, thus far been unable to buy him the Champions League title, which is what he really craves. If Chelsea again fails to win it this season, Abramovich will not only sack the newly-appointed manager, but also kill him and anyone he has ever loved, and later feast on their entrails.
Chelsea’s captain is a guy by the name of John Terry who is now, thanks to the retirement of Melbourne Victory’s Kevin Muscat, officially the world’s most-despised footballer. There are 4 reasons for this:
1. He has an extraordinarily high level of general dickishness.
2. He has no respect for referees.
3. He once cheated on his wife with the ex-girlfriend of a team mate, and
4. He is the captain of Chelsea Football Club.
If I could summarise Manchester City in one sentence it would be: Chelsea on steroids, but without the winningness. Its (also oil-rich) owner is also hell bent on essentially buying the club immediate success.
Since taking over the club, they have spent (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars buying in (mostly over-hyped) players from other clubs, to do little more than warm the bench and drain their wages account. They have far more money than sense.
Do you know a football player with slightly-above-mediocre talent? If so, Manchester City would like to buy them off you for whatever astronomical price you decide to slap on them.
Arsenal is the last of the “big four” who have pretty much zero chance of winning the title this year, having just sold their best player (and captain) to Barcelona. Apparently Pep Guardiola decided he didn’t have enough talented midfielders at his disposal. Also, they just lost again this weekend.
This team has been managed for the past 15 years by a guy named Arsene Wenger (no, that’s not a typo). He personally designed the team’s dressing room in their home stadium according to the principles of Feng Shui. That last sentence was not a joke.
Liverpool are the one team above all others that deserves to win their first Premier League title this year. But, of course, they won’t. They’ll have convincing away wins over Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, but will also struggle for a draw at home against teams like Bolton and Swansea. (*sigh*)
Liverpool have sadly become the Axl Rose of football teams: forever trying to revive former glories, and… failing. It sucks to be a fan of this team, and I say that from experience.
Thanks to the fact they run off the smell of an oily rag, Everton is the team that everyone secretly admires. This is especially so for Australians, because it is the club where national hero Tim Cahill plies his trade.
The odd thing about Everton is that almost every year they flounder near the bottom of the table until Christmas, but then suddenly find a rich vein of form and end up around 6th by the end of the season. I am therefore quite sure over half of Manager David Moyes’ time is spent wondering what sort of crazy s**t his players get up to in the off-season.
Tottenham, Stoke, Sunderland, Fulham, Bolton and Aston Villa
… will have respectable upper-mid-table finishes this year. That’s pretty much the best they could hope for. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Newcastle, Blackburn, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves, Wigan
At the end of each season, the three lowest-ranked teams on the table get dropped into the lower division for next season. This is known as “relegation” (or, if you’re a fan of Wigan, “inevitable”), and these teams will battle through the season trying to avoid it.
Their relegation battles will see these five teams collectively chew through as many managers through the course of the season – half of them to heart troubles. The other half will be fired by their club’s board, because we all know that’s a sure-fire way to instil confidence in your team mid-season.
Yes, Wigan will be relegated. Nobody will care.
Swansea, Norwich, Queens Park Rangers
Along with relegation comes promotion, wherein the two best teams from the second division get elevated for the following season. The third and final spot is decided by a complex ritual featuring a shaman, some goats blood and a member of the House of Lords dressed like a unicorn.
These three teams won through to the top flight through this system last season, and will work their balls off to stay in it (with about a 33 per cent chance of success).
QPR, who are the one team most-likely to survive, has just been bought out by the dude who owns AirAsia. That’s really awesome, because if there is one thing that this league desperately needs, it is a fledgling team with a cashed-up owner hoping for big things… (*sigh*)
So, there you have it. All you need to know about the English Premier League. Did I mention the fact that the same f**king teams win all the time?
P.S. Yes, the guy who manages Arsenal is called Arsene. Seriously
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