Wanna Get Into Soccer but Need a Team? No Problem – 2021/22 Guide to Picking a Premier League Club
Samuel's Soccer Safe Space
WELCOME BACK, BEAUTIES! It me, your sissy sport spirit guide Samuel, and what a glorious summer of soccer we just witnessed. The United States of America took Mexico’s mom out for a nice steak dinner and never called her again – TWICE.
And who knows? Perhaps those glorious red/white/blue victories, along with the high quality Euros and/or Copa America tournaments, convinced a few more lost souls to join the church of jogo bonito and accept soccergod into their heart.
In fact, if you are just getting into the sport (or know someone who is) and want to find a team then congrats – this is a blog for you! If not, no worries, do you fit any of these descriptions:
- Do you like sports?
- Do you like drama?
- Do you like money?
- Do you like an excuse to drink before noon?
If so then congrats, this blog is for you too!
This is actually the 8th annual (holy balls! Eight?? Really??!??!) “Guide To Picking an EPL Club” blog and I noticed that they have gotten longer and longer each year, so one thing I am going to try to go with this one is cut it down in size – a lot – so apologies in advance if it is missing some of the bells and whistles of previous editions.
Now without further ado, let’s get to it…
SOME PREGAME TIPS
Some useful tips to keep in mind when picking a club:
1) Do NOT pick one right away. Watch some games. Talk to some people. See which teams or even just players speak to you. That kind of relationship has a far better chance of lasting versus a shotgun marriage.
2) Balance the pluses and minuses between picking a “big” team and a “small” team. The bigger the team the more wins you get to enjoy but the more “plastic” jokes you will have to endure. The smaller the team the more respect you will earn from long-time soccer fans but it also means enjoying fewer wins and can make it harder to develop a lasting bond with the team since – facts are facts – losing sucks.
3) This should not your first or even second consideration but if you plan on going to a game at some point geography matters at least a little bit. London (south) is obviously the most convenient option since that is where 99% of you would be flying in to, however, keep in mind that England is roughly the size of Alabama so getting from one end to the other – even all the way up to where the Whitewalkers roam near Newcastle – is not THAT hard.
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the blog. I always struggle with how to order the clubs so I am going to use the preseason title-winning odds and start with longest shots and work our way down to the big swinging dongs of the EPL cracker factory (plus the North London teams)…
ps: long-time readers will notice that I added a new category of “Hipster score” to help new fans by letting them know how many points they will win in the eyes of soccer hipsters if they end up picking this club as their dearly beloved. Don't bother arguing with me about this. The scores were tabulated after an exhaustive survey of countless hipsters leaving several insanely cool music festivals that you've never heard of because you're not cool enough.
If you pick a club in this group be prepared for a lot of L’s this season. On the other hand you are free to celebrate draws like wins, wins like sex, and avoiding relegation like a trophy.
Location: Northwest London
Biggest rivals: Luton Town
Hipster score: 36/100
The Hornets are a London-ish club that have benefited from an influx of cash from a wealthy Italian family that also owns Udinese in Serie A, which in the past has been a useful way of borrowing talent if/when needed. They are best known around here for a magical run to the FA Cup final in 2019 (I was lucky enough to be there for it and did a couple blogs/videos about it HERE and HERE) and for firing managers at the drop of a hat. They are fresh off a bounce-back season in which they earned promotion back to the big dance thanks to a sturdy defense and my guy GK Daniel Bachmann between the pipes. It remains to be seen if they can solidify their spot in the Premier League and avoid becoming a yo-yo club but they are a real family-friendly club with a cool stadium (Vicarage Road) in a convenient location and will always hold a soft spot in my heart as they have always been very cool to me.
Bonus: Elton John is a lifelong fan and honorary president, and “Jay Jay Jay from the U-S-A” DeMerit is a club legend and long-time USMNT standout (and an A+ human being).
Location: Norfolk (east coast)
Biggest rivals: Ipswich Town
Hipster score: 97/100
The Canaries are constantly bouncing back and forth between the top two divisions. They have earned a reputation as a fun club to watch that loves playing attractive soccer but naively gives up a ton of goals. If you thrive on chaos and/or have a track record of dating crazy people then perhaps Norwich is the club for you because the only sure thing is that it will be an emotional roller coaster filled with high highs (dominating Championship opposition and winning promotion) and low lows (getting pounded in the Premier League and sent back down) – and plenty of both. Importantly, Norwich just signed American striker Josh Sargent who at the moment is looking like our starting #9 for the next World Cup qualifying cycle, which should raise their profile a bit.
Fun fact: They have some of the more unique jerseys in the league, which could be a good draw if yellow makes your eyes pop or you are a Green Bay Packers fan and want to be able to re-use your existing sports paraphernalia.
Location: West London
Biggest rivals: Fulham and QPR
Hipster score: 73/100
The Bees are unique. They are owned by a professional gambler and have a strict Moneyball-like approach to identifying talent (“buy low, sell high”). This is their first season in the top flight of English soccer in 75 years and they got things started off on the right foot by beating Arsenal. They are one of the league’s bigger wild card teams this season and fittingly feature one of the biggest wild card players in Ivan Toney, a guy who scored (circa) 30 million goals last season in the Championship but has yet to prove he can do it against Premier League defenses. Win, lose or draw it should be an interesting season… or perhaps seasons!?
Fun fact: the scenes after the opening day win was pretty damn cool and a nice reminder of what soccer is all about:
Location: Lancashire (just north of Manchester and west of Leeds)
Biggest rivals: Backburn, Bolton and fun
Hipster score: 69/100
Burnley is the smallest city to host a Premier League team and that underdog spirit permates the club – which is a flowery way of saying that this is a club where offense and fun go to die. Manager Sean Dyche is a ginger with an acerbic wit and his press conferences are usually entertaining, but it is not necessarily a good thing when the most dynamic force at the club is not allowed to kick a ball. Nevetheless, by hook or by crook the Clarets have found a way to draw and win (1-0 obviously) their way to survival every year since 2016. While they are usually fighting it out near the relegation zone, and are expected to do so again this season, they are not far removed from a quietly incredible campaign finishing 7th place in 2017-18 – like a bargain brand version of Lester’s magical run in 2015-16. If you appreciate dogged defense, pitchers’ duels and/or Big Ten football, then Burnley might just be the club for you. If you are looking for flashy super stars and lots of goals, you should definitely look elsewhere.
Bonus fact: Burnley’s color scheme and jerseys are often confused by n00bs for West Ham… but in fact they were conceived of in 1910 as homage to Aston Villa, which at the time was the most dominant club in all the land… ahhhhhh, memories (more on the Villans later).
CRYSTAL PALACE (+60,000)
Location: South London
Biggest rivals: Brighton (and Millwall)
Hipster score: 47/100
The Eagles have been a solidly lower middle class Premier League club for years now. If your dad drinks Bud Heavies they might feel a little like home. The squad is in the midst of some major personnel changes that included the replacement of long-time manager Roy Hodgson (who retired) with Patrick Vieira, a one-time star player for Arsenal but let's just say his track record as a manager is… less impressive. How’s that gonna work out? Who knows, but they have a bunch of workmanlike players with several standouts (eg, Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze) to add some spice. The club is located in the (greater) London area so traveling to see them is relatively convenient, they are the only club in the league with cheerleaders, and the Selhurst Park game day experience is supposed to be a lot of fun.
Fun fact: the Eagles are Rebecca Lowe’s childhood team.
Location: Southeastern Scotland (more or less)
Biggest rivals: Sunderland; Mike Ashley
Hipster score: 86/100
The Magpies have an incredibly rich history of success and tons of trophies but haven’t won much in decades. The fans despise their cheap ass owner Mike Ashley, so if you have a complicated relationship with your parents then perhaps Newcastle might speak to you. In fact, if you are looking to buy low on a club with a lot of potential, the only thing standing – or waddling – in the way of Newcastle knocking on the door of the EPL’s big swinging dongs is Ashley, who has spent years bleeding the club dry and re-investing the bare minimum. Several mooted agreements to sell have fallen through, including one that would have flooded the team with Saudi Arabian cash, but at the moment Newcastle feels like it is flying in a bit of a holding pattern waiting for a deal to be consummated. In the meantime they have some fun players like Allan Saint-Maximin (who is great on social media), ex-Falcons FC winger Miggy Almiron, Joe Willock and Callum Wilson but the manager Steve Bruce demands the team play a slow, dreary style that sucks for everyone involved. He may not be long for the job. Long story short: if you are willing to take a bit of a gamble that a new owner is eventually installed, Newcastle is an iconic club with a dedicated fan base that – when not getting relegated – is easy to root for (don’t tell Sunderland fans I said that) and the gameday experience of attending a match at St. James is allegedly about as good as it gets.
Fun fact: the club has one of the most straightforward and iconic jerseys around (though recently they have begun to mess with it because money).
Location: South coast (SW of London)
Biggest rivals: Portsmouth
Hipster score: 55/100
The Saints were for many years considered the gold standard for upper mid-table mediocrity, which believe it or not is a pretty big compliment. However, years and years (and years) of watching their most talented players (and coaches – eg, Ronald Koeman, Mauricio Pochettino, et al) poached by the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and United finally took their toll as Southampton has fallen down the pecking order just a bit and has recently been fighting and clawing to stick around the Premier League. Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (who came over from RB Leipzig) has instilled a high-pressing style that is usually entertaining but sometimes ends up in lopsided losses like the 9-0 drubbing to United in February. Geographically, the club are an attractive side being located on the south coast of England not far from London and aesthetically they have some of the more pleasing jerseys in the league.
Bonus fact: Southampton have precisely one trophy to their name – the 1976 FA Cup – so nobody will accuse you of being a glory-hunter if you become a Saints fan.
Location: South coast (south of London)
Biggest rivals: Crystal Palace (and Portsmouth)
Hipster score: 61/100
The Seagulls have spent most of their time in the lower divisions but recently carved out an interesting niche for themselves as a team that manages to avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth, so if close shaves or doing jusssssssst enough to get by are your thing then take a look. The club doesn’t spend much money but tend to do more with less, and Graham Potter has earned a reputation as a quality manager. If you like blue and white teams that don’t necessarily score a lot but will work their asses off… then perhaps Brighton is the team for you. The club is located on the south coast of England just across the channel from France, so that’s pretty cool I guess.
Bonus fact: one oddity that I don't quite understood (as a bloody yank) is that Brighton is located just down the coast from Southampton yet the two clubs apparently have no animosity and there is no rivalry between them to speak of. Friendly neighboring teams? Weird.
MIDDLE CLASS SOCIAL CLIMBERS
These clubs will at time show bursts of class, and could potentially threaten to snag a European slot (Champions/Europa League) but are unlikely to win the league… though Lester’s magical season is a useful reminder that you jussssssst never know. [Note: clubs again listed in order of the preseason odds.]
Location: West Midlands (just NW of Birmingham)
Biggest rivals: West Brom and Walsall (and Aston Villa)
Hipster score: 66/100
Wolves (who try to go by “Wanderers” but let’s be serious) bounced between divisions a lot until Fosun International, a Chinese conglomerate, bought them in 2016 and started buying every Portuguese player they could find. The club’s business model, depending on who you talk to, is either innovative or devious as they partnered with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes in an arrangement that some suggest involves skirting rules on how players are bought and sold. Regardless, love it or hate it, there is no denying two things: (1) there is a faint whiff of controversy surrounding the club's backroom dealings and (2) whatever is in their special sauce it is definitely pretty tasty as they are not established as an upper middle class club. There are some question marks this season such as a new manager Bruno Lage from Benfica (of course) and whether Raul Jimenez can return to the world class form he was in before David Luiz cracked his skull open like a coconut, but they have a lot of quality and one truly unique player in Adama Traore.
Fun fact: if you are Portuguese or are Iberian-inclined this is definitely the club for you.
ASTON VILLA (+15,000)
Biggest rivals: Birmingham City (and West Brom)
Hipster score: 58/100
A hugely historical club that was a founding member of both the original Football League (in 1888) and the Premier League (in 1992), the Villans have won tons of silverware and believe it or not used to be a force in European competitions decades ago but the club fell on especially hard times right around the time Randy Lerner – owner of the world-beating Cleveland Browns – bought them in 2006. Irony? Coincidence? Probably neither. However, the club is now co-owned by Egyptian and American billionaires who have been spending BIGLY and appear to be charting a course back to the comfortable upper middle class. In the midst of all the buying they just sold their best player in Jack Grealish to Man City for a buttload of money, which will be a big chance for the club as he was the heart and soul of the squad, but they have already begun reinvesting it in a bunch of new players to spruce up what was already a decent team. All in all a very solid choice for anyone looking to jump on a club on the rise but not wanting to be called a bandwagon fan.
Fun fact: they have a fierce local dærby with Birmingham City but have more or less left their rivals in the dust thanks to the recent spending spree.
WEST HAM (+15,000)
Location: East London
Biggest rivals: Millwall and Tottenham
Hipster score: 78/100
The club represents the traditionally hardscrabble East End of London full of blue collar fans who don’t need beautiful play but won’t tolerate a lack of hustle, desire and grit. For any American football fans in the house, the Hammies’ long-time captain Mark Noble and Danny Woodhead are essentially sports brothers from different mothers. That said, things are changing – at least a little bit. The club recently moved from the historic (but small) Upton Park to the massive (but sterile) London Stadium. This will bring an influx of cash that management has not been shy about spending, though it does come at the cost of losing a little of West Ham’s identity. Maybe some fans would disagree with me about that, which is fine, but it is what it is.
There are some similarities between West Ham and some American teams that are overshadowed by higher profile rivals in the same very big city… notably the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox. Like both the Mets and White Sox, West Ham feels like a team on the upswing as they are fresh off an impressive 2020-21 season that saw them finish 6th that – for the first time in a long time – gave them bragging rights over London neighbors like Arsenal and Tottenham (but not Chelsea). They come into this season looking good, playing good and feeling good led by guys like Thomas Soucek and (when healthy) workhorse forward Michael Antonio.
Bonus fact: rooting for West Ham means you are (tangentially) associating with the Green Street Hooligans of Elijah Wood movie lore, which is in fact a fictional group based on the machinations of the Inter City Firm, one of the more infamous groups of European soccer hooligans.
Location: Yorkshire (middle north)
Biggest rivals: United (and Chelsea)
Hipster score: 91/100
Big club with a rich history but two important things to know about them: (a) for reasons that Americans will never quite fully understand Leeds are absolutely despised by pretty much everyone else in England and (b) Leeds recently bounced back from being the posterchild for what can happen if a club spends way beyond their means as they went from playing in the Champions League semi-final in 2001 to declaring bankruptcy five years later, which sent them down to League One. Last season marked their first official return to the big boy league and needless to say fans were pretty excited.
As for the here and now, Leeds have one of the most interesting managers in the world in Marcelo Bielsa, a quirky Argentinian who has developed a cult following while achieving success at non-traditional powerhouse clubs all around the world. The players have totally bought in on his wild and woolly playing style that makes for fun, unpredictable, high-scoring games. I used to say “never boring, always scoring… or getting scored on” about Bournemouth, but Leeds has basically stepped right in and continued the tradition now that the Cherries got bounced to the Championship. On their day Leeds can beat anyone… but they also end up taking a few big losses like the 5-1 spanking they got on opening weekend at the hands of United. They have the talent (and support) to be a solidly mid-table team, which is precisely where they finished in their first go-round back in the EPL last season (9th).
Fun fact: while some of their fans are dumb enough to still think hooligan-ing is fun… they are at least respectful enough to mask up.
Biggest rivals: Liverpool
Hipster score: 49/100
The Toffees are mostly known for two things: Tim Howard, who was the face of the club for a decade, and always being good but never being quite good enough. Everton are caught in limbo having established themselves as clearly better than most of the league, but also clearly not good enough to make a Tottenham-like jump into the ranks of the true movers and shakers (aka “The Big Six”). They have been knocking on the door for years and have not been shy about spending money, but oftentimes the moves just haven’t quite worked out. That said they have a proven manager in Rafa Benitez and tons of talent. If you are looking for a club outside of the usual suspects that has an outside chance to win silverware and – should things seriously break their way – could even break through into the big time… you could do a lot worse than Everton. Just know going in that the club is notorious for snatching failure from the jaws of victory.
Bonus fact: Their (“friendly”) arch-nemesis is cross-town rival Liverpool, so if you know and dislike some of their fans – or part-owner Lebron James – then the Toffees might be an ideal club to glom onto.
Location: Leicester (East Midlands)
Biggest rivals: Nottingham Forest and Derby County
Hipster score: 39/100
Five years removed from the most preposterously successful season in the history of sports, they have done an incredible job of translating that success (and the money that came with it) into a solid foundation among the upper middle class of EPL clubs. Most of the key pieces from that Cinderella squad have been poached by bigger clubs (eg, Kante, Mahrez, Maguire and Drinkwater – LOL), but they still have Jamie Vardy running amok up top and Kasper Schmeichel holding it down in back. The club has earned a reputation as one of the shrewdest identifiers of talent in the world and has restocked the shelves with plenty of talent to make an outside run at a Champions League spot, and Brendan Rodgers has done an A+ job as manager keeping the train on the tracks. Also, the title-winning season is far enough away at this point that you don’t have to worry about people calling you a bandwagon-jumper if you decide to throw your lot in with the Foxes.
Fun fact: your boy Arlo White is a bigggggggggg Lester fan… but don’t accuse him of bias or he’ll block your ass lickity split (true story).
"THE BIG SIX"
Don’t get it twisted, the “Big Six” does NOT necessarily mean the best six clubs. Teams like Lester often finish ahead of several of them. However, at the end of the day money talks and these six clubs both take in the most money and (with some notable exceptions) spend the most to secure what most of them see as their god-given Champions League slots.
If you pick one of these teams – especially one not located in North London – you might receive some snide “plastic” or “casual” comments… don’t worry about it. I have a ton of respect for anyone picking a lesser club and sticking with it but let’s be serious: losing sucks. Especially for n00bs, if picking a team that wins more than they lose is going keep you more connected to the sport, then just do it and tell anyone giving you grief to go eff themselves.
Location: North London
Last title-winning season: 2003
Biggest rivals: Tottenham; Samuel Army; Chelsea
Hipster score: 18/100
Notable fans: Justin Bieber; Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry; Demi Moore; Keanu Reeves; Jay-Z; Puff Daddy; Mick Jagger; Piers Morgan; Kevin Costner; Lindsey Horan, The Tweedles of Goonerville
The Gunners were once known for playing beautiful soccer under long-time manager Arsene Wenger that was the closest thing that the EPL had to Barrrrrrrrrthelona. That was then and this is now, however, as the club has struggled to compete for a number of years in a row as Unai Emery and more recently Mikel Arteta have tried to right the ship. Arsenal finished above their hated local rival Tottenham for like 50 years straight but their dip in form plus Spurs’ recent ascendency and resulted in a shift in the balance of power… though Spurs’ recent struggles means the battle to be the less bad North London team is a toss-up. Arsenal are nevertheless a club with a decent history of success (especially in the FA Cup), with deep pockets (when their hated American owner Stan Kroenke opens the purse strings) and a lot of good young talent like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, plus some big-name attacking talent – if and when guys like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette feel like playing. The club lacks a little identity at the moment and this season may be a make or break for Arteta who needs to at least show some progress if he wants to stick around. Also, if you like loud boisterous fans who yell a lot whether you win or lose… perhaps this is the team for you.
Bonus fact: the club has won the 2nd most Community Shields in history! Very impressive!
Location: North London
Last title-winning season: 1961
Biggest rival: Arsenal; Chelsea; success
Hipster score: 24/100
Notable fans: Billy Beane; Pierce Brosnan (bad Bond); Phil Collins; JK Rowling; Steve Nash; Jude Law; John Cena; Adele; JackMac; Bobby Reagan; Samuel Army
Not a club for the faint of heart. Spurs have contended for the league title – or “put the pressure on” – several times in recent seasons and came a controversial handball away from potentially winning the Champions League… and then the golden years ended with only a whimper and an Audi Cup to show for it as Mauricio Pochettino was sent packing in 2019. Jozay Mourinho came and went like a shart in the wind and now the club finds itself at the very start of the Nuno Espirito Santo era with lots of revenues coming in from a big beautiful new stadium and just as many question marks about whether it will ever actually win something. Unfortunately the season is already off to a tough start as long-time star Harry Kane has been pushing for a big money sale to Man City, which has left a bad taste in just about everybody’s mouth, but the club may have jusssssst enough talent to have an outside shot at top 4 this season. Or they could suck and finish 9th. Those outcomes are basically equally likely.
Fun fact: The last “trophy” Spurs won was really a “trinket” (aka the Make-Beleague Cup) in 2008, meaning the last actual legitimate trophy was back in…………. wait for it………….. 1991. Yeesh.
MANCHESTER UNITED (+750)
Location: Manchester (northwest England)
Last title-winning season: 2013
Biggest rivals: City; Liverpool
Hipster score: -7/100
Notable fans: Russell Crowe; Roger Moore (meh Bond); Sean Connery (best Bond); Usain Bolt; Harry Styles; Rory McIlroy; Megan Fox; Than Shwe (ex-Commander of Burmese Military Junta)
Consummate old money club. They were the first team to tickle America’s balls and bathe in the glorious monetary fruits of said labor by entering into a cross-licensing arrangement with an American team – the New York Yankees, of course – way back in the early 2000s, which makes a lot of sense given that both teams have glorious histories (and aren’t afraid to tell you about them – whether you ask or not). A better sports analogy, though, is that United were essentially the New England Patriots of the EPL until their Scottish Bill Belichik (aka Sir Alex Ferguson) retired in 2013, after which the soccer club has been in a bit of a tailspin finishing outside the top four on several occasions and winning the title precisely ZERO times. Like any entity with more money than god, the club has responded by trying to spend its way back to respectability, and after several aborted restarts (David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and even Jozay Mourinho), it is starting to feel like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may actually be getting things right. The addition of Bruno Fernandes 18 months ago has revitalized the team and – for the first time in a long time – has them looking as though they may actually be back among the legitimate contenders.
Not-so-fun fact: the relationship between the fans and American owners, the Glazer family (who also own the [title-winning] Tampa Bay Buccaneers) is – shall we say – “difficult” as fans are pissed the Glazers have siphoned tons of money away from the club rather than reinvesting it and the issue comes up any and every time the club does poorly… solution: just win baby.
Location: West London
Last title-winning season: 2017
Biggest rival: Arsenal; Tottenham
Hipster score: 1/100
Notable fans: Larry Nance Jr, JJ Watt, Justin Bieber; Michael Caine; Sienna Miller; Will Ferrell; Billy Idol; Martin Tyler; Gordon Ramsey; Bill Clinton; Kevin Garnett; Noah Kahan; Big Daddy Clem; Ryan Whitney
Textbook example of a club transformed by a new owner with deep pockets who is not afraid to ridiculous sums of money to win… which is awesome for fans – as long as they are willing to not ask questions about where all that money came from. The owner in question is Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch with uncomfortably close ties to Vladimir Putin who (magically) amassed a fortune through questionable means and, after purchasing the club in 2003, immediately transformed it into a big-spending contender. Alas, some of the shadiness caught up to him in 2018 as the UK authorities did not renew his visa meaning he is no longer a welcome visitor to watch his beloved Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge. Sad! (Don’t cry for poor Roman though, he’s still got some nice alternatives to watch from instead.)
Annnnnnnnyway, Chelsea has been a bit of a rollercoaster in recent years, oftentimes winning the league one year then firing their manager the next after a slow start. Tommy Tuchel replaced club legend Frank Lampard in the middle of last year and completely fixed a leaky defense, and helped the Blues win the Champions League. I would be kinda butthurt about it but that meant Christian “The Babyjesus” Pulisic, attacking mid and true American hero, lifted the Big Eared trophy so tough to be too mad. This team is again stacked this season and just added Romelu Lukaku for a cool $135 million… so yeah, they are definitely going to be a force for years to come.
Bonus fact: the presence of The Babyjesus automatically that despite being a massive bandwagon-jumper you are officially indemnified from anyone calling you bandwagon-jumper.
Last title-winning season: 2020
Biggest rival: Everton and United
Hipster score: 3/100
Notable fans: Samuel L. Jackson; Brad Pitt; Elvis Costello; Dr. Dre; Mike Myers; Liam Neeson; Daniel Craig; Caroline Wozniacki; Lebron James (part-owner); John Feitelberg
Liverpool were a serious force in the 1980s but (aside from a miraculous Champions League run in 2005 and Luis Suarez-powered second place finish in the EPL in 2013-14) the club was consistently a few steps behind the league leaders. For years Reds fans accused me of hating their club simply because I had the audacity to say they just weren’t good enough to compete for the title. Then came 2019-20 when I said Klopp (and VVD) and Co. were good enough… and wouldn’t you know it they won the league and Liverpool fans stopped saying I hate their club. I’m just glad bygones are bygones. As it stands they have one of the most stacked teams in the league, a fun coach in Herr Koll, one of the most influential players in the world in VVD, and – assuming they don’t get killed by injuries like last season – should be a title threat for several more years. Also, if you are a Lebron fanboy then this is perhaps the club for you as he is a part-owner.
Bonus fact: Liverpool has a strong connection to the Boston area and are owned by Fenway Sports Group, so if you like the Red Sox or perhaps Messr. John Feitelberg – who bleeds red – then perhaps Liverpool is the club for you.
MANCHESTER CITY (-160)
Location: Manchester (NW England)
Last title-winning season: 2021
Biggest rival: United, OPEC; Financial Fair Play
Hipster score: 2/100
Notable fans: Aaron Rodgers; Gallagher brothers (Oasis); Ricky Hatton; Timothy Dalton (bad Bond), Alex Caruso
The Cityzens spent many years as the whipping boy for crosstown rival United. The club has been the "other" Manchester team for so long that most Americans probably still think of them as that even after they've now won the EPL five times in the last decade. In fact, deep down in their soul, lifelong City fans still probably think of themselves as the scrappy underdogs. Here’s the thing though: they ain’t. Not anymore anyway. Things changes and changed quickly for City after they were bought by a Middle Eastern sheikh in 2008, who immediately injected untold sums of money into the team. This – along with poaching manager Pep Guardiola from Bayern a few years ago – has established them firmly among the league favorites year in and year out (and current defending champion).
Calling a spade a spade, the club (even more so than Chelsea) is now the league’s biggest "new money" team, which is ironic given how long City toiled as the unloved, underfunded little brother of United. Year in and year out the club has splurged on big-money signings, including a record-breaking move for Villa’s Jack Grealish ($140 million) and another possible one for Tottenham’s Harry Kane (rumored to be even more), which is the kind of spending that for other clubs exists only in their wet dreams. To their credit – relative to their hated crosstown rival anyway – City tends to spend wisely, and Pep has managed to massage all (or most) of the big egos, such that they can rightly claim to be the cream of the EPL crop at the moment. Money and winning has a way of chilling people out after all. The big question now is whether they can finally win the Champions League where the club have consistently shit the bed.
Bonus fact: City Football Group also owns New York City FC, so any newly minted soccer fans in the metro region could easily pull a twofer by claiming Man City and NYCFC.
And there we have it. Hopefully this helps give your heart a little push in the right direction. Thanks for reading you beauties!