Yeah, we’re nearly halfway through the season, but maybe you’re brand new to the most beautiful game in the world, or like many fans of the biggest clubs in England, you’re ready to drop kick your old reliable because of their recent descents into darkness. Have no fear, this incredibly biased perspective will help you figure out which team is worth your time.
Do You Like Winners? Since 2010, six clubs (The Big 6) have historically been at the top of the table, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. As you’ll see below, the recent descent into darkness has had Arsenal, Manchester United and (recently) Tottenham in a tailspin and Manchester City has been enduring more hiccups than usual during the past two months of matches.
Arsenal: Arsenal is a North London club, and has carried the longest winning streak of any club in the Premier League. Their home stadium is Emirates Stadium. They have fans across the world, due largely to their mainstay as one of the Premier League’s top teams. Their current manager is Unai Emery, who’s been on since Spring 2018, after long-time manager Arsene Wenger stepped aside. The 2019/2020 season has been rocky for the Gooners, but they’ll likely maintain a stay in the league even if their performance totally falls apart, since a bad season is still a good season for many other clubs.
Aston Villa: AVFC is a club from Birmingham. The club bounces between the Championship League and the Premier League, as it is what is known as an in-betweener. It’s not a solid enough team to maintain it’s position in the Premier League for more than a few seasons at a time and will typically return to the Premier League after gaining their footing in the Championship League (1 tier below the Premiership for you new football fans out there). West Bromwich Albion has been its biggest rival throughout the years and the club boasts at least four main hooligan firms. Oh, you hooligans. Being an Aston Villa fan means you’re comfortable with turning your attention from the big stage to following the team to the Championship League and watching some of your favorite players jump ships.
AFC Bournemouth: Bournemouth also are a relatively new entrant to the Premier League. They see Southampton as their biggest rivals and can be a surprise to upper-tier and mid-tier clubs in the Premier League who expect them to be complete pushovers. They’re nicknamed The Cherries, due in part to their red and black kits. They’re another deep cut for Premier League clubs. Following Bournemouth is a good way to show that you’re not another fly-by-night fan who’s jumping on the Big 6’s fan bus.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Hailing from Brighton, this club has hung around the relegation cut-off for a while now. If you go back nearly 20 years, they were nearly out of the whole stratification of English clubs, but have since come back up through the ranks to the Premiership. Their big rival is Crystal Palace, but BHA is the perfect club for someone who loves the fear and anxiety of waiting for their club to potentially fall off the trapeze, as compared to a real run for the title.
Burnley: Burnley is an interesting club. Here is another club that has dropped all the way down the English ranks to the fourth tier, but climbed its way back up to the Premiership since it bottomed out in 1987. This is important to note, because it has a very strong following among the clubs of England’s Northwest, with attendance north of 20k within a town of 73k. Not a bad supporter ratio at all. If you like cheering on the underdog, Burnley is not a bad place to be.
Chelsea: Ok, full disclosure, Chelsea is my favorite team, so this summary will be extremely biased. What can I say, beyond “Blues ’til I die.” Chelsea is another extremely successful London club from London’s west end, with rivalries with Arsenal and Tottenham. They’re owned by Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, which means they’ve had a healthy appetite for bringing in top-class players and having one of the finest stadiums in the league (Go Stamford Bridge). Recently, they were valued as the sixth most valuable team in the world and eighth highest earning club. Their current manager, Frank Lampard, is a club hero having played as the club’s highest goal scorer. As a side note, Chelsea maintains both stellar women’s and men’s teams, though to see the women’s matches, you’ll need to pick up the FAPlayer app, which is free. What can I say, they tend to win alot, have explosive and fast speed of play and their kits are typically stellar. You can’t miss by being a Chelsea FC supporter. You’ll be joined by a solid fan base across the world.
Crystal Palace: Crystal Palace is a South London team, where there are shared rivalries with Millwall and Charlton Athletic. They also have a fierce rivalry with BHA. Since 2014, they’ve held their spot in the Premier League, but admittedly they tend to be a mid-table team, finishing south of the 10th rank over the past few years. Their kits are decent enough, they tend to pull out surprise wins and they seem relatively stable as a team. Crystal Palace is a team that you won’t expect to win the league, but you’ll see a lot of fine match-ups. If you’re looking for a non-Big 6 team to support, you could do a lot worse than Crystal Palace.
Everton: Everton FC is another top-tier club (they’ve been in the top league since the mid-50s), sharing a Liverpool home with Liverpool FC, across the way in Goodison Park. Nicknamed The Toffees, EFC is one of the most solid teams to support in the Premier League. And, with a long-history of quality football, you’re nearly assured that each season will find Everton’s matches televised across the world. It’s also a relatively drama-free club, so if you prefer your sport over the salacious gossip in the papers, this is a good team to follow.
Leicester City: If you’ve heard anything about The Foxes and aren’t a die-hard supporter, it’s likely that you heard about Leicester City’s incredible 2015/2016 run to take the Premier League title, after returning to the top-tier just a season before. Leicester became known for their counterattacking style of play, “incredible pace in the areas it is most essential” and defensive solidarity. Forward Jamie Vardy was instrumental in many of the wins in the 2015/2016 season and beyond. At the moment, Leicester City is in second place in the tables, following behind Liverpool and separated from Chelsea by +11 points in goal differential. So far this season, they’ve only lost to Liverpool and, somehow, Manchester United. Another solid team for supporters to get behind.
Liverpool: Liverpool are honestly the darlings of the Premier League. It’s hard to hate against them, unless you’re an Everton fan. Lead by manager Jurgen Klopp (Captain Hugs for his notorious celebratory player hugs), the club has been on a hot streak. And though they haven’t won the Premiership since the 1989/1990 season, they’ve brought home their fair share of silverware from European contests since. Liverpool currently has one of the most cohesive teams in the league, with players who actually seem like a coherent family. They’ve got killer merch, a great slogan (You’ll Never Walk Alone) and pull out some of the most powerful wins of any current Premier League club. Plus, they’re from Liverpool. It’s what would have been if The Beatles had been a football team rather than a smashingly good pop quartet. They’re also playing at a pace and quality that they may have the title wrapped up well before the season ends.
Manchester City: I compare ManCity to the Boston Red Sox. They’re a powerhouse, but for some reason, this season, they’ve just lost a little steam. Still an incredible team and a much better choice to follow than ManUnited (read more about this dumpster fire of a team below). Under the management of Pep Guardiola they won the Premier League in 2018 becoming the only Premier League team to attain 100 points in a single season. Again, jumping on the ManCity bandwagon is like jumping on the Red Sox wagon; you’ll see a ton of great matches, but everyone will think you’re just picking a winner (which you sort of are).
Manchester United: I’m just going to put this out there. ManUnited has been a terrible pile of trash for several years. This season is the first time we’re actually seeing them falling down toward relegation territory, which would serve them right since they are loosing some matches against teams that should win on paper. Yeah, they’re still part of the Big 6, but you wouldn’t recognize them from the team from a decade ago. It’s as it a few seasons ago, the whole team woke up and had simply forgotten how to play the game. They’ve had issues with players, managers and even a solid chunk of their supporters seem to be dwindling in faith. They also seem to have recently developed an uncanny knack at spending outrageous amounts of money on players that simply don’t fit the team. I could go on, but it would be a waste of both of our time. Jumping on this ship should be an indicator that there is something wildly wrong with your understanding of sport. Still, go Devils?
Newcastle United: Newcastle is a classic yo-yo team. On average, they’ve hovered around the bottom third of the Premier League table, with a few exceptions when the wagon wheels just fell of and they dropped to the Championship season for a moment and then returned to start that plummeting effect all over. Obviously, they’ve have cool sponsorships and coordinated kits. For all of that, they have an incredibly strong following, with average attendance in the 50k range for the past 8 years. Sting, from The Police, is a huge fan.
Norwich City: Nicknamed The Canaries, Norwich City rejoins the Premier League this season since dropping down to the Championship in 2016. Some may suggest the club’s best days are well behind it, with stronger contention for the League between 1987 and 1993, yet they’ve never won the top-tier’s trophy. It feels mean to kick a smaller team, but Norwich City is interesting to watch, even in their green kit on green pitches.
Sheffield United: Sheffield United is the second best team to hail from the Sheffield, England area (Sheffield Wednesday being my favorite team currently in the Championship league). All joking aside, SheffUnited have spent the bulk of the last three decades in the Championship league. So, their current run isn’t so surprising as they seem to have a lot to prove.
Southampton: The Saints have never won the Premier League title either, but they’ve been a solidly mid-level team in the league since their return to the top-tier in 2012/2013. The few years after their return signaled a climb to the middle of the pack, but has since dropped off. Consider this team as a deep cut for new fans, but don’t expect a ton of wins.
Tottenham Hotspur: The Spurs seemingly have been in a spiral this season, potentially stemming from some dismal competitions in the last season. Recently, they kicked their 5-year manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to the curb and brought in Jose Mourinho after the season had been falling apart, with a Match Week 12 ranking of 14th. (Woof.) The internet generally lost their mind with the incoming Mourinho who has a totally different style of play from the traditional Spurs’ aggressive play. The team has been technically proficient and has been in the top of the league since the early 60’s. My prediction is that they’ll continue to unravel, but hey, they do have the pedigree.
Watford: Elton John is a supporter, which might be the most interesting aspect of the team. They’ve been in the Premier League for several seasons since dropping down to the Championship for a while. Honestly, they’re simply a snooze and a bit irritating when they somehow pull off a win or a draw against one of your favorite clubs. If you’re a fan of pure vanilla VSCO-style stuff, yeah, give ’em a go.
West Ham United: WHU are known affectionately as The Hammers and use the slogan COYI (or Come On You Irons). West Ham would be a great team to follow and have generally held a mid-table spot in the Premiership, except for four various drops to the Championship. WHU has die-hard supporters and the most killer merch to prove it. If you’re a fan of Iron Maiden, you’ll recognize the crest on Steve Harris’ signature Fender Precision bass. They’ve never won the Premier League, but they have the greatest heart and passion of any club in the division, maybe second only to Liverpool.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Meh. The Wolves are basically a tease, spending the better part of the past 30 years in the Championship league. They just returned to the Premiership in the 2018/2019 season. They’re currently eighth overall, but that’s not saying much. They draw more than they win. They’ve also been unable to put more than 2 points a match on the board. I’d rather support a team that can find the goal on a regular basis.