So apparently I'm a fan of the English Premier League
December 30, 2015 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I have found myself watching EPL the last few weekends, cumulating last Saturday with three straight games. I think its time to admit I'm a fan. So I'm looking for a few blogs, email newsletters, etc. to follow to stay up on the league. Suggestions? There is a lot out there and I don't have time to filter through it all to find the few good sources.

Also, feel free to use this question to make a case for why your favorite team should be mine. I've never been to England, so I have no geographical allegiances. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, which would give me a reason to be a Liverpool fan (same ownership) but that seems too easy.
posted by COD to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, as a Liverpool fan, I'll encourage you to go with your gut ;) it's a very interesting time for Liverpool right now as for the first time in basically ever we've got a world-class and incredibly charismatic manager in Jurgen Klopp, and I fully expect him to finally win us the league again at some point in the next few years. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with us.

I read the Guardian's football coverage for a general overview, and my favourite Liverpool-specific blog/podcast is The Anfield Wrap. They do a few free shows weekly but I highly recommend subscribing if you do choose Liverpool, and even if you're not ready to commit to us yet they do a general podcast show ("The Coach Home") in which they talk to supporters of other clubs.
posted by corvine at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Secret Footballer claims to be a (former?) player who gives some decent insights into some of the hot button topics of the day from a pro's perspective. Usually worth a read.

As for which team to support, if you're a Red Sox fan Liverpool will see you right. Join us, you'll never walk alone. There's a decent chance you'll be able to catch a pre-season game in Boston sometime in July as well.

On preview, corvine says everything I was going to say to try to sway you to the red half of Merseyside but much more eloquently than I can. Trust him ;)
posted by peteyjlawson at 8:33 AM on December 30, 2015

Don't pick a team yet! This season has been absolutely bonkers and, in my opinion, it's best watched as an enthusiastic neutral. I mean, when you've got guys like Ighalo from Watford and Lukaku from Everton banging in important goals, not to mention the gutty brilliance of Leicester City and their Mahrez-Vardy counterattack and DID YOU SEE SHAQIRI'S GOAL this weekend?!?

I mean, you've got plenty of time to let a club's style or dominance or Cinderella story wash over you and grab your imagination. Appreciate right now that you're seeing a brilliantly baffling season due to a big step forward from the Premier League's middle class in the money they can spend and, therefore, the talent they can bring aboard.

Just try not to get confused by the red-and-white teams that start with S (Stoke, Sunderland, Southampton) or how to properly pronounce "Leicester" in polite company. Oh, and Newcastle will almost certainly break your heart, so there's that too.

I'll second The Guardian and I'll add that I subscribe to the "Football" magazine on Flipboard for additional news. Reddit's r/soccer seems to be OK too, though I'm far more about the links than the discussion threads. I'll be keeping my eye on this thread to add to my reading list.

In addition, if you really want to get to know the league, dive into Football Manager 2016 and manage a club. It's a huge time commitment (I've lost many months of my life to the game), but if you're wired to appreciate in-depth simulations like this, it's so very much worth it.
posted by GamblingBlues at 8:46 AM on December 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

In terms of email newsletters, I will give a strong recommendation to The Fiver, the tea time newsletter from The Guardian. The humor is a little inside-y at times, and it does end up covering all of Europe on the slower days, but it's pretty accessible and generally a fun daily read.

And to the extent that you need to be swayed towards the mighty (but not so great this year) Swansea City AFC: find a way to watch "Jack to A King - The Swansea Story", which gives a good run through of the recent history of the club. Should be rentable on iTunes - don't think it's on Netflix or the like, but I could be wrong.
posted by Remy at 9:00 AM on December 30, 2015

If you are going to pick a team this year then I suggest you avoid some of the riskier teams currently at the bottom unless you want to have to come up to speed on the Championship for next season. Aston Villa have got bog all chance of being in the premier league next year, there are another maybe half dozen currently off target for finishing the season with 40 points (the traditional target for survival, it may require a few less this year). Generally speaking its bad form to switch from one team to another once you have made your pick.
posted by biffa at 9:02 AM on December 30, 2015

Nthing the Guardian's coverage. But honestly, your best source for coverage is Twitter, both for links to articles on news sites and to blogs, and for chatter during games. (And if you're interested in statistical analysis of games at all, it's a goldmine.) Some of the people I follow who you might like:

- Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils)
- Michael Caley (@MC_of_A)
- Mike Goodman (@TheM_L_G)
- Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking)

Once you start following people you'll find others pretty quickly through retweets and discussions.
posted by asterix at 9:05 AM on December 30, 2015

Men in Blazers!

Podcast is top-notch; they also have a newsletter and some twitter accounts (@meninblazers).

Also a TV show on NBCSN, from time to time.

One of them is a Chelsea fan (boo!); the other is an Everton fan. Liverpool with Juergen Klopp is an unusually appealing choice at the moment.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:22 AM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Guardian's Football Weekly is a really great podcast. (I support Southampton, who were a lot easier to recommend this time last season)
posted by Chenko at 10:38 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Men in Blazers provides an entertaining introduction to the EPL, football in general, and the global football ecosystem, and it's aimed directly at Americans (both longtime soccer fans and new converts).

Following them on Twitter has introduced me to load of other feeds and blogs, when you're ready to get a more tactical viewpoint.

I'm a Stoke fan now but didn't commit until after following the league for more than a year.
posted by ElGuapo at 10:49 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

As an Everton fan I have to disagree with the two Liverpool fans above!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:26 PM on December 30, 2015

I know nothing of football, and I don't imagine anyone will be recommending you to support Man U given the state they're apparently in, but I know someone who raves about the quality of RantCast, a Man U podcast, so that might be worth a listen - either as an impartial interested observer, or to enjoy the spectacle of the Greek tragedy that I gather is currently unfolding at Old Trafford.
posted by penguin pie at 3:05 PM on December 30, 2015

My team isn't in the Premier League, which vastly increases my enjoyment of Match of the Day, and this season has been particularly glorious and unpredictable, what with Chelsea's collapse and the rise of Leicester's (and sometimes Stoke's) wonderful buccaneering football.

If you want to support a team which is definitely going to win trophies, it's worth going for Manchester City and Chelsea, which have oligarchic/Saudi money swilling around. They're not doing great at the moment but stats would suggest that over the long term they will recover.

If you want to support a team with a bit more romance to them, I'd go for Spurs or Liverpool. Liverpool are overdue for success and they have a great manager. Spurs have a fantastic and very young team, and they haven't won anything for a while, despite coming close.

Support anyone, basically except Arsenal. Hate Arsenal. Don't care that they play beautiful football. Their fans are the whiniest in the EPL and the manager only sees fouls that other teams commit. I think they're going to win the Premier League this year. Blech.

The suggestions above are good -- particularly the Guardian podcast. The Guardian used to run some fantastic longform blogposts culled from fanzine sites but I think they may have cut back now. Still worth checking their sports blog though, if you like reading deeply fannish coverage. Similarly, When Saturday Comes [] can be a lot of fun.

The Secret Footballer site is good -- the fan and journalist writers, and the Secret Footballer himself are eloquent, insightful and well-informed. If you google him, his Wikipedia entry comes up, so he's not that secret any more.

The BBC's football coverage will tell you everything you need to know, though the reports can be a bit colourless. I like shouting at Phil McNulty's opinion pieces and if you can get to it, Match of the day 3 is a good discussion programme for the Premier League (and occasionally the FA Cup)

Sadly Gary Neville is now the coach of Valencia, so his trenchant insight and delightfully blunt rudeness is no longer spent on the premier league but the Sky's Monday night football stuff can be interesting if you're into analysis. A lot of it is on YouTube.
posted by finisterre at 3:52 PM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Guardian used to run some fantastic longform blogposts culled from fanzine sites but I think they may have cut back now

Nope, they're still doing it; they should be under The Long Read.

Their fans are the whiniest in the EPL and the manager only sees fouls that other teams commit.

As a Gooner I am honor-bound to object to this. We're not the whiniest fans, we're the most quiet. (They didn't call it the "Highbury Library" for nothing!)
posted by asterix at 4:57 PM on December 30, 2015

I am another fan of a non-Premier League team, which means that I'm finding this season hilarious (with assistance of Danny Baker, who has been pointing out the emperor's bare arse for a while).

I like Men in Blazers, and they're a testament to how much better US-based coverage has become over the past decade, but I think they're better at communicating the joys of football to their audience than the baseline state of frustration, disappointment, anxiety and misery. (It's the hope that kills you.) It's great that Jonathan Wilson is writing for Fox Soccer -- The Blizzard is your advanced level course on the broader culture of football. The Guardian's discursive coverage is great, too.
posted by holgate at 6:08 PM on December 30, 2015

nthing Men in Blazers - they have totally motivated me to watch more matches, if only so I can understand the jokes in the podcast.

As for choosing a team, I'm a Tottenham Hotspur fan all the way. It took me a few years of watching to commit to a team, and I recommend that you choose a team by watching games and finding the team whose style and story you most enjoy. This season has been just amazing in every way - I envy you getting to watch this beautiful soap opera with an unbiased eye.

I chose Spurs because:
-they're not one of the "big four" - Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal
-they have a long and interesting history
-they play in London (so it might be easier to get to see a game when I'm on a trip to the UK)
-their kit and logo is not hideous
-and most importantly they are Arsenal's biggest rivals. (sorry asterix!)

Good luck with your choice!
posted by amelliferae at 6:56 PM on December 30, 2015

Men in Blazers is generally on at 11pm on Monday nights, btw.
posted by kuanes at 4:57 AM on December 31, 2015

Thanks everybody! You have convinced me to relax, enjoy the games, and naturally let myself get sucked into one team's story.
posted by COD at 5:56 AM on December 31, 2015

I'm meh on the Men in Blazers. More of a Football Ramble guy. I read the Guardian football coverage pretty regularly, and check out ESPNFC for some writers (Michael Caley, mentioned above, Mike Goodman, Gab Marcotti).
posted by that's candlepin at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2015

On a practical note, unotelly (other dodgy DNS services are available) will help you watch MOTD on the iPlayer.

Gab Marcotti also does a podcast for The Times that will make you want to punch him for the job he does hosting it, but the discussion can be quite good. Shockingly enough, Joey Barton of all people does great player-level analysis. Zonal Marking is still the only place that does any real thinking about tactics.

Your best starting point for choosing a team is acknowledging the superiority of the Arsenal, then going from there. Seriously though, watch for a few years, look for a style of play that you like, and an approach to recruitment that you like, check if the fans are horrible bigots (less common these day, thankfully), and pick a club. Remember, a club is for life, not just the Boxing Day fixtures.
posted by Kreiger at 1:41 PM on December 31, 2015

They aren't exclusively an EPL podcast but I enjoy listening to Howler Magazine's Dummy podcast.
posted by mmascolino at 4:05 PM on December 31, 2015

Just chiming in to say, pick Liverpool! The miracle in Istanbul is the stuff of legend. Coming back from 3-0 in the biggest game of the season, against a Milan team widely acknowledged to be generally superior...nobody does that.
posted by juv3nal at 1:37 AM on January 1, 2016

Not even Liverpool.

posted by that's candlepin at 10:17 AM on January 4, 2016

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