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Everything You Need To Know About English Premier League

We’re just a little over two weeks into the start of the English Premier League. For those trying to keep their soccer passion going coming out of World Cup, we decided to do a ‘what you need to know’ guide about each league getting you prepared for what's to come. Remember, you can catch all the Premier League action on NBC Sports Network, with most matches played on Saturdays. Find the full schedule here.

Chapter 1: League Format

The English Premier League is the 1st division league in all of the United Kingdom. There are 20 teams who all play each other twice, once at home and once on the road to complete the 38 game season. The EPL doesn’t have a winter break like most leagues around the world. Their only break is the FIFA-mandated international break, when players go play for their international teams. 

The three teams that finish atop the table at the end of the season earn qualification for the UEFA Champions League, which is a massive tournament consisting of all of Europe’s best teams - with the winner crowned the "Kings of Europe." The fourth place team in the Premier League must compete in a Champions League play-off, which begins in August, to earn their spot in the group stage of the UCL. 

The three teams who finish at the bottom of the table will be relegated to the second tier of English soccer, which is called the Championship League (not to be confused with the Champions League above). The top teams from the Championship League at season's end are promoted to the Premier League the following season. And the whole dance begins again.

The trophy that 20 teams will be fighting for this season. (Photo:@FootballFunnys | Twitter)

Chapter 2: 2014 Title Contenders

Manchester City: The 2013 champs have lifted the trophy twice in the last three yeas with a FA Cup sprinkled in between. The club suffered in the later 90s falling to the English third division before rising back to the EPL in 2002. Now the squad is a force to be reckoned with and is also not very liked amongst the league. They have an absurd amount of money and for that reason alone you can either hate them or love them, your choice. 

Chelsea: Managed by the polarizing Jose Mourinho, everyone has an opinion on the lads hailing from Stamford Bridge. The Blues scream confidence and last year showed their physical, defensive minded play behind Mourinho’s tactics which received plenty of complaints among the league. I’d compare them to the 49ers as a great team in a cool town who spends just as much money as anyone. Will Farrell is also a fan of theirs. 

Liverpool: A team with exceptional history, but haven’t won a league title in 25 years. Last season was as heart wrenching as you will see, but behind supporters that bring the coolest environment in the Premier League at Anfield and the most famous song in “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, the Reds are a tough team to dislike. They are like the Dallas Cowboys. Once a force and known throughout the world, to just being know throughout the world for their shortcomings. 

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard's slip proved costly for the Reds title hopes last season. (Photo: @my_supersoccer | Twitter)

Arsenal: One of the more entertaining teams to watch in the Prem, the Gunners are coming off an FA Cup championship and once again finished in the top four, which they’ve done every year since 1997. But the Gunners haven’t broken the top three since 05, but they are one of the more popular teams in America. They have one of the most beautiful grounds at the recently opened (2006) Emirates Stadium which boasts the leagues highest ticket prices. Fans believe that they refuse to spend like the Chelsea's and Man City's of the world.

Manchester United: Since 1992, the Red Devils have won 13 league championships along with two Champions League titles. Peppered with all-time greats such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, C. Ronaldo and manager Sir Alex Ferguson, United were the kings. But last year the club imploded under David Moyes, finishing 7th. Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal has taken over the rebuilding project, but with some big signings including Real Madrid man Angel Di Maria the Red Devils should be back to competing atop the table. They're the Yankees, you love them or hate them. 

Chapter 3: Teams That Will Tease Your Most Desparate Hopes

Everton: Home to American hero Tim Howard for the past 8 years, the Toffees are the other club in Liverpool. Roberto Martinez did a great job in his first year, but the club doesn’t have the money that the other clubs have which dampers their competitive chances. They are a gutsy team that consistently overperforms, but will likely come up short. 

Tim Howard and the Toffees will try to break into the top four this season for the first time since  2004-2005 season. (Photo: @BannermanH | Twitter)

Tottenham HotspurSpurs will do what they can to compete with North London rivals Arsenal, but the fact is they have never finished ahead of their rivals since the Premier League began. They play a fun, open style and have a solid fan base. The fact is they want success, but they have had 10 coaches in the past 12 seasons. They have the talent to make a run for a Champions League spot, just a matter if their management actually lets a system stick. 

Chapter 4: Life At Midtable

Aston Villa: Former Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner owns Aston Villa. I wouldn’t compare them to the Browns completely, but the Villains probably aren’t going to make a splash this season. We’d compare them to a team with great history, but not a lot of championships, like the Detroit Tigers or New York Mets. They have a great fan base and do just enough to make it seem like they are trying to win. They are one of only five teams in England to win a European Championship. Famous fans include Prince William and Black Sabbath. 

West Ham: "The Green Street Hooligans" is a great movie and The Hammers have great history dating back to 1966 when three of their players were vital to bringing the World Cup to England. The thing is, that is really all they have. They truly are the Cleveland Browns of the Prem, with success in the 50s and 60s and that's it.

The lads of Green Street is all West Ham has had going for them since the 60s. (Photo: @AdalbertoRiz | Twitter)

The lads of Green Street is all West Ham has had going for them since the 60s. (Photo: @AdalbertoRiz | Twitter)

Stoke City: Home to American defender Geoff Cameron, Stoke is another squad with a physical style of play. A “rainy night in Stoke” will leave you seeing hard tackles and an ugly physical style of defense. They are the oldest team in the Premier League and the Potters would love to finish in the top ten for the first time ever. 

Newcastle: Like taking your shirt off at games? Then hop on the Magpie bandwagon. Realistic hope for them this season is to avoid relegation, while keeping their managers job. They play a rugged rough style of football which they say is “proper English football.” Sting is a fan of them and even if they got relegated they would still have all 45,000 show up at St. James Park. 

Chapter 5: The Battle To Avoid Relegation

Sunderland: Opened the season with a draw against Manchester United, and it seemed like the world was ending. They have been in the EPL for seven straight seasons, but have hit 40 points only three times. It’s always a battle to stay up and recently they have done enough to do just that. Jozy Altidore is on the squad, which goes a long way for Americans. They were a dominant club before WWII, when they won five division titles and two FA cups, but recently they have been coming much too close to going back down to the Championship division. Oh, and Sugar Ray Leonard is a fan of theirs.  

Crystal Palace: The Eagles have been promoted four times and were relegated in their first year all four of those times. They will cause you more anxiety than joy, but last season they were one of the stronger teams at the tail end of the campaign. Liam Neeson is also a fan of theirs and he's not the only one.


Swansea City: The Swans are the first team from Wales to reach the Premier League. Normally a team in the lower division, Brendan Rodgers (now Liverpool manager) rose them to the top flight where they have proved themselves scrappers - finishing 11th, 9th and 12th in there first three years in the Premier League, respectively. 

Hull City: Their owner really, really (and we mean really) wants to change their name to the Hull Tigers. The Premier League delayed the decision and then the English FA said it wasn’t going to happen. They appealed the decision but aside from going to the FA Cup final last year, they haven’t done much. They’ve been in England’s top flight for only three seasons over the last decade, but are a gritty team that keeps fighting despite all their financial mishaps. Hull will give you effort, that’s for sure.  

Southampton: They were left with a lot of uncertainty after manger Mauricio Pochettino left to Tottenham. They have fought their way to the top flight after being a struggling young team in the 3rd division in 2011. Finished respectfully at 14th last season, but then got rid of all of their great young players in the past couple years. Some you may recognize are Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw. They have an eye for talent and developing it, but just don’t seem to want to hold on to that talent. 

West Bromwich Albion: After a promising 8th place finish two years ago, the Baggies finished 17th last season. Normally, they are in the middle of the pack, but now that the wheels seemed to have fallen off it will be a fight for them to stay up. 

Epilogue: Welcome To The Big Leagues (You Won't Be Here Long)

Burnley: Not going to happen. Sorry. 

Leicester City: Sticking around for a couple seasons would be a success in our book. 

Queens Park Rangers: A London club with devoted fans, but it will be tough 9dare we say impossible) for them to hang with the big boys. 


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