Premier League 101

Austin Lentz, Contributor

Football Training Practice Exercises for Youth Soccer Players. Boys on Training with Soccer Balls on Pitch (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Premier League mornings.

Saturday morning you wake up ready to watch your Minnesota Golden Gophers Football team; However, there have been professional sporting events occurring across the pond before any of your Gophers have even arisen from their slumber. 

Our former friends, turned foe, now allies have been dominating world football (soccer) for decades. The originators of “the beautiful game” also house the best football league in the world, the English Premier League (EPL). The EPL is the top-flight league of English football, which is made of 7 separate tiers. This is important because the English football system allows for promotion and relegation, a system that Americans (like myself) are unfamiliar with. In the United States, the worst team in a league is rewarded with the #1 pick in the next year’s draft in an attempt to keep the league as balanced as possible. The EPL throws that concept directly out the window. Instead the 3 worst teams in the league face relegation, in which they are removed from the league entirely, making way for 3 new clubs to join the Premier League. This allows for 3 “new” teams that may be brand new to the EPL or are making a return from facing relegation themselves. 

Slightly confusing right? Well this is simply the beginning. 

You may be asking “how do they decide who the worst teams are?”

As the EPL is made up of 20 clubs each club plays a home and away against every other club in the league, thus making the season 38 “match weeks” long. Because each club plays everyone twice the English feel as though there is no need for a playoff system to decide the champions. The team with the most points at the end of the season are crowned champions. 

Now the scoring. 

A win is worth 3 points and a loss is worth 0. Now here’s the kicker (no pun intended) there are ties/draws. I know you are gasping reading the dreaded “T” word, but this is how it works. If a match goes the entire duration of time (90 minutes) and the scoring is still deadlocked, each team is awarded one point for their valiant efforts.

Now that you understand the general setup and structure of the league, it’s now time to select your new club.

Choosing the right team is all about what you’re looking for. Odds are you are a Minnesota sports fan, who has been blessed with never-ending pain from your teams. The closest thing to a championship a Minnesota sports fan has seen is the NFC Championship in 2018, and we all know how great that game was. If this is the case for you I would recommend choosing a “big 6” club. The “big 6” is put together by Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Liverpool. These are generally the most popular English clubs internationally and historically are some of the most successful clubs in Europe. Clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham have been stumbling recently and have been less successful compared to their “big 6” comrades. More successful clubs like Leicester City and West Ham are creeping their way into the “big 6” conversation over Arsenal and Tottenham. 

Generally speaking I would stick with a team with more promise than an up and comer, simply due to the fact that you can choose your club, and why would you want to choose a team that isn’t going to win anytime soon?

This Premier League season is shaping up to be the tightest race in years with the top 4 teams from last season looking to claim the crown.

Light blue Manchester City has won 3 of the last 4 Premier League campaigns and are poised to make another run this season. They’re the undisputed favorite for this season. 

Crosstown rivals in red, Manchester United, recently reacquired Ronaldo who will be making his return to the Premier League this season. Manchester United has big players but just haven’t put it all together quite yet. Maybe this is their year. 

The blues, and pride of London, Chelsea Football Club are fresh off a Champions League win after finishing 4th in the EPL last season. The addition of striker Romelu Lukaku means Chelsea should be right next to City as favorites. 

Liverpool, wearing red, has most recently won both the Champions League and Premier League, being the only team to take down Manchester City in the last 4 seasons. With the return of key players from injury, Liverpool has the ability to be legit contenders. 

I have only briefly touched on the top 4 teams from last season, but selecting any of these clubs to support would be a home run. This Saturday give the EPL a chance and tune in, who knows? Maybe you’ll be calling “the beautiful game” football soon.