Which Premier League team should I learn to love?
August 27, 2013 10:28 PM   Subscribe

The EPL has finally comes en masse to American TV. NBC is broadcasting three featured matches a week, and making most if not all other matches available for live streaming online. So you've got 20 teams playing 38 matches for the Premier League itself. That's 760 fixtures right there. Among them are countless derbys, inter-regional rivalries, full of so much intensity and history that they shouldn't be missed Then there's the FA CUP, the League (Carling) Cup, and a few other smaller 'cups' I can't remember the names of. There's also the UEFA Cup and the Champions League, in both of which EPL clubs compete Between the EPL itself and all the tournaments and 'cups', the sheer number of matches is a bit much, a bit dizzying, for a clueless American who loves watching soccer, but doesn't know shit about the teams themselves. So who do you love--and, by extension, who do you hate--in the EPL, and why? I don't know enough to think for myself when it comes to Arsenal or Aston Villa, Man City or Sunderland. But now that I can watch them for myself here, in the states, I'd like to learn to love one or two clubs, albeit vicariously, for now, with a little help from those in the know. Thanks
posted by BadgerDoctor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (61 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Stoke City has three American players (Cameron, Edu, and Shea) and is the second oldest football team in the world. Given that they barely avoided relegation last year there is a lot of room on their bandwagon so I jumped right on. You can too!
posted by xmutex at 11:02 PM on August 27, 2013

This article from 2006 is probably still relevant and asks some of the questions that a person in your position might ask.

BTW, the best team isn't in the Premiership any more. But since they aren't, you might as well pick a top-four team and enjoy the fact that they get a lot of TV time compared to the others.

Xmutex isn't wrong about Stoke for those patriotic reasons. You can also like Aston Villa (Brad Guzan), Everton (Tim Howard) and Sunderland (Jozy Altidore). At least.
posted by galaksit at 11:08 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like Arsenal. But I am a Barcelona fan. Xavi and Iniesta are my hero. They play like a pair of great musicians are doing jugalbandi .

I hate ManU. I hate Real more than ManU, though I wish to watch at least one El Classico before I turn 35.

It's funny how I started hating ManU and now can't stop(don't regret). Some of my ManU-fan friends used to love Real and Ronaldo and that's where it started. It's good. You should love some, hate some.

Well, Barcelona is the symbol of a rebel region, the great Catalonia and it has some Basque players, another rebel community/region. It's about the defiance against the aristocracy/monarchy/oppression or whatever you call it. But I don't think these were the factors that pulled me towards Barca, it was there perfectionist and clean game. Their comradeship in the team - the team spirit itself. Unlike Barca players you must have noticed Christiano Ronaldo attempting goals like N number of times in a game, no that's not bad; the bad thing is, he just fu**ing shoots in the direction of the goal post whenever he had the ball and I guess he doesn't even think that balls are meant to be passed too. Anyway, that's a rant.

I am pretty new to Football. Sth like 3-4 yrs. I never actively played it. I am an Indian and unfortunately youngsters don't get exposed to anything other than Cricket(which I still love to play but hate to watch; I was school vice-captain for 2 yrs and captain for an yr :P) in most Indian towns/villages &c. It's changing and I hope it keeps on getting better.

I don't know what kind of tastes you have but I think you would be fine with any EPL team other than ManU or maybe City (they just buy players.. costlier, costlier.. with the oil).
posted by amar at 11:10 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've just started following West Bromwich Albion, because they have Diego Lugano. And I love Diego Lugano to the tips of my toes because he's funny and adorkable and fascinating to watch play.

He's also El Capitan of La Celeste, the National Team of Uruguay. Which is a team that I've been following and supporting for years now. Because? They just caught my attention last WC, and haven't let go.

I very highly doubt that NBC will ever show a West Bromwich Albion match, but it's much easier for me to connect with a team if there's a player or two there that I like and care about. It's unscientific and illogical, but that's part of the fun of football for me. So, I'd just watch a bunch of teams/players, and see who 'clicks'. IMHO, it's not something that can be boiled down to a chart or an algorithm.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:22 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm an Arsenal fan. Which makes what I'm about to say the dirtiest thing to ever come out of my mouth:

You should support Tottenham Hotspur.

They are an exciting team, perpetually on the verge of greatness but never quite getting there, yet always the new season brings fresh hope. They have a glorious history upon which they do not rest but seek to improve. They almost certainly won't fulfill their promise, but honestly, the years of suffering make victory all the sweeter.

They are also one of the only clubs left who are owned locally and not by some foreign investor with dubious or unknown motives. They have largely earned the revenue with which they conduct business, and the fact that they occasionally do it clumsily is part of their charm.

Or, you should support Fulham. There may be outfield players getting the occasional time at Stoke, but Fulham is the club that committed to bringing US players in and demonstrating their worth. Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey: they and many more got their chances in Europe because Fulham took a shot on them. Plus, they're currently managed by Martin Jol, who, in addition to being a very good manager, is the recipient of possibly the worst firing decision of the last decade.

I'd like it if you supported Arsenal, of course, because our history and our future is very bright. If you're committing to a team for life, you could do much worse. However, the present isn't great, and if you're only here for a couple seasons, you'll get more joy from a club not so obviously in transition from one decade to the next. Don't get me wrong, we're by far the greatest club the world has ever seen. But, as Hereford United might tell you, glory isn't in never having fallen, but in rising when you fall, and we certainly do all of that.

So, if you're watching for a season, Spurs; for a few, Fulham; for a club that will be a rock through the vicissitudes of your life, Arsenal.

Or one of the other 17, it's all tribal bullshit anyway. I started supporting Arsenal because they were mentioned as being hopeless in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; if Douglas Adams had been from Birmingham, my life would be quite different. Watch some games, see who moves you, watch them some more, then suddenly realize you're planning trips around their fixture schedule. The best team for you to support is the one you can't help but support, and you'll know them when you find them, and that will be far more rewarding for far longer than any momentary affection or advice. You love who you love. Football clubs aren't different.
posted by Errant at 12:08 AM on August 28, 2013 [15 favorites]

I'm another Arsenal fan but I have no real personal connection to the club. How it traditionally works in the UK is that you support the club your family support or the one that you are closest to geographically. I became an Arsenal fan for two reasons. Firstly, when I was just getting into football they had a fantastic team who played wonderfully attractive and entertaining football. Most teams we played against just tried to stifle us rather than taking us on which made it a simple good vs. evil equation for me. I also really admire the way that Arsene Wenger, the manager, sticks to his principles, tries to do things the right way and always has great faith in the human beings that play football for him.

Having said all that, I agree with Errant that what you should do is just watch a ton of matches. Certain teams will excite you, certain players will intrigue you, maybe a team will suffer some terrible misfortune and you'll feel sympathetic towards them. If you watch enough football you'll start to form likes and dislikes and before long you'll be supporting a team without even consciously realising it.

There's no right or wrong. Except for the fact that choosing to support a team because internet strangers told you to is wrong.

posted by neilb449 at 12:24 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are only two words worth knowing in English: Aston Villa.
posted by parmanparman at 12:45 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

West Bromwich Albion is a good team. But, West Bromwich. Man, you would not want to be there in daylight, much less evening hours.
posted by parmanparman at 12:47 AM on August 28, 2013

Arsenal. Where does one start? They lost to Aston Villa in their first game of this season.
posted by parmanparman at 12:48 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

So you've got 20 teams playing 38 matches for the Premier League itself. That's 760 fixtures right there.

EPL games typically feature two teams.
posted by biffa at 12:57 AM on August 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'd second Tottenham Hotspur. Despite losing Bale they're gonna have a great season. Over the past 5 seasons they've had some really exciting players and this year is no exception. They've made some great signings, and have a fantastic manager.
posted by mani at 1:50 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't support West Ham United unless you're a masochist who'll delight in nine months of misery and disappointment every year.
posted by essexjan at 2:09 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Not Chelsea. Anyone but Chelsea.

And the EPL to Downton Abbey Converter agrees with me.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:19 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

And catch as much Barcelona as you can while Xavi and Iniesta are playing together. They're divine.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:21 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd third Tottenham Hotspur. After a couple of decades of mediocrity, they've been getting closer and closer to breaking up the top 4 in recent seasons, and they'll be exciting to watch this year. They are likely to lose their best player to Real Madrid by the end of the week (for a world-record transfer fee) but they've been spending that money on quality players, and they could even have a chance of winning the league in 2013/4.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:25 AM on August 28, 2013

they could even have a chance of winning the league in 2013/4.

Having betrayed my people, I hope to redeem myself by saying that when I celebrate St. Totteringham's Day next year, I will be celebrating it with you in mind.

You don't support Tottenham, or any club, because you think they'll win. You support a club because you think they should. The second you think that, you have the answer to your question, and everything else is inconsequential. I'm not being coy about this. There is genuinely something magical and important about you picking the team that you find yourself caring about. That's what makes a fan: not proximity, not money spent, not chants sung. When a team loses, and they should have, and you're mad about it anyway? That's your club. Welcome to the family.

Although I really hope it doesn't happen while you're watching a Chelsea game.
posted by Errant at 2:39 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

essexjan is right, but West Ham do have the best song in football ever.
posted by Chairboy at 3:53 AM on August 28, 2013

Arsenal!! People are right, it's often the case you don't really choose a team because of any sort of logical reasons but because you kind of fall into it. I ended up a gooner because I got into football during the year Henry and Lehmann were fantastic at the World Cup the year before I moved to England. And then they promptly left that year but that was me stuck for life.

I'll say one thing about Arsenal, it's never dull. I don't get how they used be called "boring boring Arsenal." I mean, last night they're playing Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifiers, they're 3-0 up from the first leg and I was STILL biting my fingers because of recurring nightmares of their poor showing against Aston Villa that first game of the season. (They ended up soaring to a 5-0 victory and now Arsenal are going to the group stage draw for the 16th year in a row.)

I'd watch as many games as possible and then you'll see you'll just sort of drift towards one, either because of the manager, the team playing style, the colors, their story this season, something. You WILL find your way, grasshopper.

But please, anyone but Tottspurs, Chelsea or ManCity.
posted by like_neon at 4:34 AM on August 28, 2013

The most successful team in English football does not have a bandwagon.

It has a history. A cannibal. A hero. A wild night in Istanbul. A hymn. An anthem. A farce. A temple. A tragedy. A benediction. A shame. A cat.

Its supporters run the gamut from the fair-weather to the fanatical. They have cheek. They have passion.

In summary, Liverpool Football Club is a land of contrasts.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:43 AM on August 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

The best bit about the EPL, is a tradition of heart in your mouth, counter-attacking end to end football. Manchester United do this best, and have done for years. Half a billion fans can't be wrong!

Arsenal - great team to watch under Wenger, although nowhere near what they used to be.

Chelsea & Manchester City - hugely rich, incredibly boring to watch them grinding out tactical 1-0 wins under continental managers.

Tottenham - as others have said, have always been an attractive team, but they're going to lose Gareth Bale for the best part of $150million. I'll always watch them if I get chance though.

The rest of the League is more second rate, physical, long-ball type of football. Doesn't really interest me, personally. Any Derby game will be worth a watch though.

As for competitions, the FA & League cups don't get interesting until later. The League and the Champions League are far more popular.
posted by derbs at 4:50 AM on August 28, 2013

And now on re-read I realise I didn't really give you that much info about Arsenal as a club this year. I think the backstories help make things fun.

Now, there are plenty of people who know shed loads more about Arsenal than I do, but in the recent weeks they, well Wenger the manager, has been under immense pressure to buy up a player or two. Not just random ones, but like SPEND THE BUCKS players. Wenger has been a fantastic leader for the club. He helped build the new Emirates Stadium on time and I believe on budget. He has stood his ground and not spent money chasing expensive players and the result is that they have quite a kitty ('war chest' is the term thrown around) and everyone's screeching he should spend spend spend.

I really don't know how I feel about it. One of the prominent banners at Emirates is "You can't buy class" and that's an unofficial motto for the club. The other one is "Wenger knows". So the Aston Villa loss set off the people who thinks we have money burning a hole in our pocket but then he goes and knocks it out last night (to be fair Fenerbahce were awful) which may make him more stubborn. Transfer window closes in a few days so we'll see.

On preview, Liverpool is another interesting choice to look into. Great long history and their more recent history is quite fraught.
posted by like_neon at 4:52 AM on August 28, 2013

You'll. Never. Walk. Alone.

Is there a better four word summary of what it means to be a sports fan?

If you can read this article and not come out of it a Liverpool supporter, then the Man Citys and Chelseas can have you.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:27 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

galaskit beat me to the Sports Guy link. Even if you don't like him, it's worth a read as it helps with this process. I was looking for a team at the same time as him for much the same reason (basically: seeing the World Cup in HD and discussing it with the folks from Sportsfilter made me fall in love with the sport again). The only problem was I was still fairly fresh off the Red Sox' first World Series win in 86 years and I thought I'd really like to pick a team with little hope of winning it all so when it happened I'd get that amazing experience all over again.

In the intervening years I've rediscovered how much not winning can suck. I picked Everton for a number of unimportant reasons; mainly that they weren't one of the Big Four (now Five) but also weren't so bad they'd never get a sniff of Europe. The Sports Guy's column says a lot of people compared them to the Oakland A's and that is (or at least was*) a good comparison: they find talent on the cheap, ride it for a few years and then sell it off. The comparison fails at one point: the A's make the playoffs on a regular basis and at least have a puncher's chance of winning the league. No matter who you pick, if they're not part of the Big Five fandom will be a sort of perverse pride where you have to hang your hat on finishing in the top half of the table and "Doing it right", whatever that means. You're basically setting yourself up for a lifetime of savoring moral victories. It pains me to say this, but given the mess they've been in for a couple of years you could get away with becoming a Liverpool supporter without looking like a front-running turd.

For the love of Christ, not Stoke City unless you're trying to cure yourself of being interested in football.

* I'd love to recommend Everton to you but I'd feel guilty so you'll have to make that mistake on your own. We recently lost our manager, some would say our most valuable asset, to Manchester United and the new manager has only had a couple of games in charge so I don't have any idea what the future holds.
posted by yerfatma at 5:46 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I very highly doubt that NBC will ever show a West Bromwich Albion match

Assuming you have cable, they already do. They're showing every match on special channels and streaming live online.

Whomever you do pick to support, start listening to Football Weekly. It's a fantastic podcast and will help you get tribal and learn to hate other teams. Which is the real point.
posted by yerfatma at 5:49 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

You may also want to choose one of the teams recently promoted up from the Championship League (Crystal Palace or Cardiff City). Particularly because Cardiff City JUST BEAT MANCHESTER CITY ON SUNDAY (Man Citeh being considered one of the top 4 or 5 clubs in the Premier League and having won the Premier League year before last).

These guys are fighting to stay up in the Premier League, despite having a smaller salary fund that many of the big names that are consistently in the Premier League.

They will break your heart, but they are fighting "for something."
posted by kuanes at 6:00 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

As someone who commented on a related thread previously, I'd say that Simmons' choice of Spurs back in '06 feels a bit dated, because the balance of power in north London has tilted since then. While it's not quite a bandwagon, it's a Ford Transit that looks like it might hold a popular beat combo.

Last time, I suggested Everton, and who knows what they'll be without Moyes, although they remain the plaything of local millionaires, not global billionaires.

You need to sign up for some suffering, because that is the foundation for those brief moments of glory. But it's hard to recommend following a newly-promoted side if you're based in the US -- the teams that, as Danny Baker says, seem to have a short-term lease on their league status -- because NBC's not showing Championship matches on wet Tuesdays in February.

An analogy: I started taking an interest in Australian rules football a few years back, and decided to latch onto a team. I wanted one that was basically a bit shit, but when they won, it was a triumph over adversity, where the players showed promise and guts; a team that could beat the best in the league if everything clicked, but usually didn't. I went with Richmond, and they've got progressively better every year.
posted by holgate at 6:41 AM on August 28, 2013

kuanes: You may also want to choose one of the teams recently promoted up from the Championship League (Crystal Palace or Cardiff City).

This is a great idea for a new fan. In fact, it's totally fine to pick three or four teams to "follow" as you start to get into a sport. One or more will start to naturally feel like "your team" over the course of a season or two. Today I am primarily a Liverpool fan, but I still have some warmth in my heart for Arsenal from a previous attempt at getting into the EPL (Douglas Adams + Fever Pitch + an old messageboard friend) and I find myself enjoying Norwich City quite a bit (Stephen Fry + underdog appeal + great kit/nickname) lately. You don't have to be all-or-nothing-super-ultra about it.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2013

And here's the previously from 2010 that started robocop is bleeding on the path to being a Red.
posted by holgate at 6:53 AM on August 28, 2013

I've done the above for baseball over this season. I picked up at the end of last year's World Series and this year I've loosely followed the Giants and Tigers from that, the Angels, who are funny name central (Trout, Trumbo AND Pujols??), A's (#NERDPOWER), Marlins (because I want to see them set off that ridiculous sculpture but they're shit enough not to do it very often), and the Cubs, because you have to love the Cubs. I've gone off the Giants, but the Tigers are starting to feel like my team. I'm not quite sure why, and that's kind of the core of it, as some above have mentioned.

Anyway. My EPL team are Liverpool, born and raised. We're shit enough for it not to really be a glory-hunting thing any more. What robocop is bleeding said, basically. It's the hope that kills you. We've had a great start to the season, unbeaten in two, signed some interesting players, some old players playing really well, and then we needed 120 minutes to get past Notts bloody County yesterday. Sigh.
posted by corvine at 6:57 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

NBC's not showing Championship matches on wet Tuesdays in February

No, but BeIN Sport is!

I'm an Arsenal fan, so I'm tempted to suggest that you follow them, but honestly if I had to pick a team at this point I'd probably go for Swansea. Despite the fact that it's the English Premier League, they're Welsh, so there's a bit of oddball charm right off the bat, and even though they haven't been in the league that long they play a style of football that requires more skill than, say, Stoke's. They're fun to watch.
posted by asterix at 7:13 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I lived in Islington in 2002-2003 so I have to say Arsenal. Errant says wise things; I agree with Errant that Tottenham Hotspur is fun to support and I like them too (my housemate is a Spurs fan). I think you can't go wrong with either.

Please not Chelsea.
posted by pointystick at 7:18 AM on August 28, 2013

I think you can't make a bad choice as long as you pick a big club. There basically are no cinderella's in European League Soccer - occasionally you can get one in the Champions League.

Don't fall into the trap of picking a small team that's towards the top of the table today because you don't want to be seen as a front runner. They mean revert and next thing you know you'll be posting "Where can I watch the Championship on satellite in the US"

I'm not an arsenal fan, but you are probably pretty close to picking a bottom if you grab them as your favorite team. Liverpool wouldn't be too front runner-y. Tottenham is a decent choice as well. Arsenal has an advantage for you as an American of being in London and being in an area you might want to check out anyway. Tottenham is sort of far out in the North East of London.

Chelsea (I'm a fan as a result of basically being given a season ticket from 03-05), Man City - have issues with ownership being basically robber barons, and Man U is like wearing a Yankees Jersey with a Lakers hat on.

I mean my best friend in the UK is an Evertonian and I get the interest in picking a smaller club - but unless you were born into that fandom I don't see it as anything other than a route to misery.

I mean what would you say to someone from the UK who wanted to pick the Pirates as their team to support.
posted by JPD at 7:34 AM on August 28, 2013

I'm a Villa supporter and you're more than welcome to join our little club, but if you like your misery spiced with even occasional happiness,* I have to suggest following a team like Spurs, Man City, or even Liverpool.

But never Gooners. And Chelsea's idea of footie is an abomination.

*Yeah, I know we beat Arsenal on opening day. But, really, Arsenal beat themselves, and we've lost two silly matches since then.
posted by General Malaise at 7:38 AM on August 28, 2013

Oh, and NBC has a fun little Team Picker. If you give it access to your Facebook likes it will use them and some personality-test-like questions to determine a team for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:49 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unlike marrying, having kids, or picking a career, choosing a football team is not a decision to be rushed. Under severe pressure in a 1979 school playground I opted for Aberdeen, which seemed like a great decision for 7 years until Alex Ferguson buggered off to some team down south and was never heard from again. I got into the EPL by looking for the Man United results after Ferguson moved there. It wasn't a great league in the late 80's/early 90's but it's a lot of fun now and I'm happy to watch whoever is playing. I'll never build the kind of emotional attachment to an English side that comes from 30 odd years of enjoying success and enduring misery (mostly the latter to be fair), but I still enjoy what's on offer.

A lot of the top EPL teams are in transition this season and it's going to be fascinating to see how that plays out. Man United's fluid counter attacking style under Ferguson may become a more reactive, physical game under Moyes, but perhaps that was just the style he had to play at Everton? Which Man City side is real, the one that destroyed Newcastle, or the one that lost to a determined Cardiff side? And what the hell is wrong with Joe Hart? Arsenal is going to be soap opera all season if they don't establish themselves near the top. Mourinho's return to Chelsea is going to be fun to watch. Can Martinez turn Everton into an attacking side? What can Rodgers do in his second season at Liverpool?

I could go on, but there are so many storylines up and down the table, that I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice to just focus on one team for this season. Give yourself a research season, watch as much as you can. Someone's style will click with you, or you'll find yourself unable to root for a team that continues to employ a particular scumbag. By the end of the year, you'll have a better idea of who you want to follow.
posted by IanMorr at 8:04 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Go to YouTube. Search "Dennis Bergkamp". Watch a handful of videos.

If you can accomplish this without being hopelessly consumed by the all-powerful fiery glory and limitless majesty of the universe, then by all means, it's best you go ahead and spend your winter Saturday mornings for the foreseeable future watching Everton or Spurs or West Brom or even good old Fulham.

They're all fine clubs.
posted by dyobmit at 8:08 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am the head of Stoke City Baltimore. There is one member. Me.

There are maybe 15 or 20 American born Stoke City fans in the USA. It's a fine club to support with a good history.

And no one, NO ONE, will ever be able to call you a bandwagon fan. Unlike those that support, say, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal etc...

Oh, and we always beat West Brom.

Whatever you choose, pick a team that is danger of being relegated. The relegation worry and the ensuing escape from it, is among the most amazing feelings in sports.

7Segment, XmuteX, and I. That's the MeFi Potters.
posted by josher71 at 8:26 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

The other podcast apart from Football Weekly that I really love is the BBC 606 fan call-in show on Saturday and Sunday. There was a caller last year that pretty much convinced me to make Wigan my second team for the year. You also get to hear about the other leagues and non-league teams too.

It's a bit silly sometimes, but you get real fans supporting all kinds of teams calling in. Personally, I support Liverpool and have hopes for this season, assuming they can actually score some goals, but I find that watching teams play helps me make my decision about teams to support based on their style and personnel. Chelsea and the Manchester teams are easy choices. I do like the look of Aston Villa this season.
posted by idb at 8:52 AM on August 28, 2013

It's a frustrating time to be a Gooner, but Arsenal 'til I die. The club's got a rich history, and they play some beautiful football when everyone happens to be healthy all at the same time.

I don't think you pick a club so much as a club picks you.
If you want to read up, Arsenal support was the subject of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and Soccernomics devotes a chapter to Wenger and Dein.
Added bonus: The Arsenal Gentleman.

You might also want to check out Being: Liverpool (it's is on rotation on the Fox Soccer Channel) and Blue Moon Rising, which is a lovely piece about Citeh's fans.

It's such a wide open season, so it's a good time to be a football fan.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2013

I'm a Potter, too. I don't actually follow the game very closely but I picked them because it annoys my son who is an avid fan of the EPL. So my suggestion is to pick a team that annoys someone close to you.
posted by maurice at 9:47 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

So my suggestion is to pick a team that annoys someone close to you.

Very underrated reason to choose a side, but it really does work out quite well, if you both have a healthy sense of rivalry.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:08 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Who knew that there were so many Mefi Gooners (aka Arsenal fans)?

I am another one.

Some things to bear in mind... picking a team is pretty much for life, and most of us got ours through semi-random means, like who our parents or friends supported, where we lived as kids, the shirt color we liked the first time we saw a game on TV, or whatever.

So most of us didn't really choose as such, and through that non-choice we got some kind of a wild ride that has its unforseeable ups and downs as the years roll by, and the nature of your club and its place in the world can change a lot over time.

That said, if your gut or heart is not picking a team for you, you might want to ask yourself a few questions about what kind of an experience you're looking for.

Is it important to you that your team be always in the hunt for trophies and be one of the best consistently? Then prob you want Man U, Man City or Chelsea.

A team that's known for stylish entertaining football? Maybe Arsenal or Spurs.

Solid teams with strong regional-based following? Maybe West Brom or Newcastle.

Admire grit as much as flair? Maybe Everton, Stoke, Sunderland.

Fancy up-and-coming teams that might delight you with their progress... though most prob only to plateau after a few years? Swansea, Fulham.

Like the idea of a a club with a long and storied history? Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal.

Back now to Arsenal, which is the only club that I'm really qualified to tell you what it *feels* like to support...

First thing... it is rarely dull. We are more than capable of winning any game against any opposition, and more than capable of losing any game against any opposition too, so no game is without hope and tension. And these days the outcome of our season is usually a close run thing, so it all matters. We can live in dread of being "relegated" out of the top four, pushed out by (aargh no!) Spurs. And we can entertain a not-completely-insane hope of kicking Bayern or Barca's butt on any given day, and putting together a run to a Champions League final.

Second thing... partly because of the above, esp in contrast with a fairly recent history of collecting truckloads of trophies, Arsenal fans these days seem to be a grumpy lot. While a Wigan or a Swansea fan can be ecstatic that their club wins a cup, because it's way more than they even dared hope for, the average Arsenal fan atm is almost the exact opposite. The level they consider to be "par" is so high, there's pretty much no scope for anything to happen but frustration and disappointment.

Some version of that is probably the footie fan's lot, whoever you decide to support. So as Woody Allen said: "One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
posted by philipy at 10:30 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

When will NBC start showing Bundesliga games?

Everyone knows that power in Euro football has shifted to Germany. Bayern and Dortmond are better than any team in the EPL.

So my advice, OP, is to consider looking at a whole other league. I'm sure you can find Bundesliga games the Internet somewhere and there are a few good web sites out there for coverage.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:05 AM on August 28, 2013

BeIn has Bundesliga.

Bundesliga is even worse than the English League in terms of picking team to support. Its Bayern and then some random team thats good for a few years and then falls pack to the pack. I think Bayern has spent more weeks at the top of the league than every other team combined going back 50 years.

Also I'm not sure you can make an argument its the better league. Bayern might be better than anyone in the PL sure.
posted by JPD at 11:16 AM on August 28, 2013

Another Arsenal supporter here. Bookmarking this thread for future reference. I became a supporter based on my affection for Nick Hornby's writing. I read Fever Pitch on a flight to London in 2001, and learned so much about the history and players that it just seemed to make sense. I stayed a fan because I like the way they work. Wenger can drive me crazy sometimes, but I appreciate him.

*Yeah, I know we beat Arsenal on opening day. But, really, Arsenal beat themselves, and we've lost two silly matches since then.

Agreed for the most part, but the dodgy referee had something to do with it as well.
posted by terrapin at 11:27 AM on August 28, 2013

JPD: Bundesliga is even worse than the English League in terms of picking team to support. Its Bayern and then some random team thats good for a few years and then falls pack to the pack.

My first ever European soccer experience was attending a 2. Bundesliga TSV 1860 München match in their old stadium in the late 90s on a school exchange. By the time I checked in on Die Löwen again in the mid-2000s they had been to near the top of the Bundesliga and back again.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2013

I set out to pick a team 5 years ago when my sons became football players. I immediately ruled out Man U and Chelsea, as they had been described as the Yankees and Red Sox of the EPL and, being a Philadelphian, I could never be a front-runner. Arsenal, at the time, was also a bit over-powered for me. I wanted a team that mid- to upper tier team that might contend, but wouldn't be in danger of relegation. After a bit of reading, I decided on Tottenham and I have been really, really happy with my choice.

First, they can play beautiful and exciting football. Second, they are good enough that they should win points against most of the other teams, but not so good that you just expect them to. Third, they are still the underdog against bigger clubs, so you get to root for an underdog some of the time (again, from Philly, so this is familiar territory). Finally, they are almost guaranteed to tear your heart out by playing down to their competition and giving away points to teams that they should dominate. Thereby losing position in the table and screwing up their goal differential and letting other, less deserving clubs have the glory (and revenues) of European football. (not that I am bitter over the last two seasons)

Anyway, while I am still a bit leery of the current manager, they are playing an exciting, direct style of football that is fun to watch. I would recommend checking out a few games to see if you find them enjoyable.
posted by qldaddy at 11:34 AM on August 28, 2013

galaksit: "This article from 2006 is probably still relevant and asks some of the questions that a person in your position might ask."

I know nothing about football but even I can spot the multitude of errors and complete falsehoods in that article...
posted by turkeyphant at 12:17 PM on August 28, 2013

BeIn has Bundesliga

Are you sure? Last time I saw any on my TV, it was on GolTV and it looks like they still hold the rights. Though I haven't seen any search results in my tv guide recently.

Bundesliga is even worse than the English League in terms of picking team to support

You mean picking a second team after St. Pauli FC, right?

multitude of errors and complete falsehoods in that article

Which makes it good preparation for following the sport.
posted by yerfatma at 12:18 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ach - I thought BeIn had bought out GolTV - you are of course correct.
posted by JPD at 12:34 PM on August 28, 2013

Don't fall into the trap of picking a small team that's towards the top of the table today because you don't want to be seen as a front runner. They mean revert and next thing you know you'll be posting "Where can I watch the Championship on satellite in the US"

I agree with this. Plus if you pick a decent team you can watch European matches and it's possible the team will come to the States and play friendlies and so on. Nobody believes the newbie supporter who loves Norwich or whoever anyway.

Spurs are the conventional choice, it seems, they gained a ton of American supporters when Dempsey signed and continue to do so as they occupy that "large but not so large I'll seem like a glory hunter" space that appeals to new fans of the game, and everyone wants to be in on them right before they overtake Arsenal as the ever-present-4th-finisher.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2013

There are maybe 15 or 20 American born Stoke City fans in the USA.

Well, to be fair rugby's never really caught on here.

Added bonus: The Arsenal Gentleman.

And Arsenal's chairman is named Sir Chips Keswick! Which is really a reason to support then in and of itself.
posted by asterix at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought BeIn had bought out GolTV - you are of course correct.

Cold comfort given GolTV has disappeared from our cable system.
posted by yerfatma at 5:35 PM on August 28, 2013

I'm a Spurs fan because I like the colors and I'm Jewish. Really, I had no choice in the matter.
posted by youcancallmeal at 5:36 PM on August 28, 2013

youcancallmeal, this is news to me .... being a Sp*rs supporter, not the being Jewish part. Sorry, but my calendar has suddenly filled up through June and not sure we can get together for drinks ;)
posted by terrapin at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2013

Well, to be fair rugby's never really caught on here.

Stoke also has some good chants.
posted by josher71 at 8:41 AM on August 29, 2013

Nobody believes the newbie supporter who loves Norwich or whoever anyway.

I can say that this is not always true.
posted by josher71 at 8:44 AM on August 29, 2013

And Arsenal's chairman is named Sir Chips Keswick! Which is really a reason to support then in and of itself.

Spurs used to be owned by Lord Sugar, who I assume is pictured in the second panel of this comic.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:24 AM on August 29, 2013

Not only is our chairman named Sir Chips Keswick, Arsenal are (AFAIK) the only team to have a good old fashioned murder mystery set in their stadium, or to be invited over for tea with the Queen.
posted by philipy at 2:36 PM on August 29, 2013

The Queen's corgis had exceptional quality but did one have maybe a little bit hamstring niggle?
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:35 PM on August 29, 2013

A little late to the party but another Arsenal supporter here. I started watching the premier league in earnest when I met my now husband seven years ago. I originally refused to support his beloved Arsenal because I wanted to demonstrate my independence and have a good natured rivalry. I did a bit of research and declared Liverpool my team. Well that only lasted about half a season, I just enjoyed Arsenal's fluid, attacking style of play too much and loved a few of their players.

Definitely agree with the suggestions above to watch a bunch of games and surely someone will stand out for you. Some excellent games this Sunday between big clubs to get a taste. Arsenal and Tottenham play so if you are deciding between those two, have a watch and you will probably find yourself rooting one way or the other. They have a bitter rivalry so the game should be spicy!

If you want a hilarious Arsenal podcast check out The Tuesday Club
posted by scrubbles at 2:23 AM on August 31, 2013

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