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An Introduction to the English Premier League

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premiership1.jpgThe English Premier League is the most watched football league in the world and if you're not yet a regular viewer and want to know more about it then this article gives you all the information required to get started.

The premier league is the richest of all leagues with an estimated revenue of around $3.5 billion for the 2007-08 season. It is the 1st tier of English football and it comprises of 20 teams. All 20 teams play each other twice in each season, once home and once away, making it a total of 38 games per team in a season. The football season starts in August every year and ends in May of the following year. Presently the Barclays bank is the main sponsor of the premier league and hence it is officially known as the Ba rclays Premier League (BPL).

The league is based on a system of promotion and relegation. At the end of each season, the bottom 3 teams in the BPL are relegated to the football league championship, which is the 2nd tier of English football and 3 teams from there come up to the Premier League. The league standings are decided on the basis of a points system. A win is worth 3 points whereas a drawn match earns both the teams a solitary point. There are no points for a loss. At the end of the season, the team with the maximum number of points is declared the league champion. If two teams have the same number of points, then the one with the higher goal difference (goals scored-goals conceded) finishes above the other. If the goal difference is also identical then the team with more goals scored finishes higher.

The Premier League was founded on 20th February 1992 and before that it was known as the football league first division. This came about because the clubs in the old first division decided to break away from the football league, which was founded in 1988, to take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are the biggest and most famous teams of the BPL. These clubs together are commonly known as the big 4. They are so dominant that only once in the last 10 years has it happened that any one of these 4 clubs has finished outside the top 4 in the league standings (Liverpool finished 5th in 2004-05). But this big 4 phenomenon is also the root cause of the many criticisms labeled at the Premier League. Some people argue that the above mentioned 4 teams are so powerful in a footballing and a financial sense that the league is getting more and more one sided each season. The economic adage of "the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer" is often used with reference to the premier league. These critics are of the opinion that the gulf between the premier league and the lower divisions is increasing rapidly and that does not bode well for the future.

Here is a brief profile of the 20 clubs taking part in the premier league in the season 2008-09:

 

Big 4


1. ARSENAL

arsenal.jpgArsenal are managed by Frenchman Arsene Wenger who has been in-charge of the London based club for the last 12 years. Wenger is best known for his belief in playing attractive football which he tries to inculcate in his young Arsenal side. Wenger also has a great eye for identifying talented young players. The current Arsenal squad is mainly made up of players from varied nationalities who were signed by Arsene Wenger when they were in their teens. It is a widely held belief that Arsenal are the best team to watch in Europe and are the most pleasing to the eye.

Arsenal have got many young high profile players like Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott etc. Fabregas was instrumental in Spain's triumph at the European Championships this summer and at the age of 21 he looks a veteran in Arsenal's squad of teenagers.

Historically some great names have played for Arsenal. Players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp have all contributed to Arsenal's illustrious past.

Arsenal are nicknamed the Gunners and they play their home games at the newly built Emirates stadium which has a capacity of a little above 60000.

2. CHELSEA

chelsea.jpgCurrently the man at the helm at Chelsea is Brazilian world cup winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. Chelsea, who are also based in London became a force to be reckoned with in English football when they were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003. Since then the club have enjoyed a successful spell during which they have won 2 league titles and many other competitions.

Chelsea have a star studded line up of experienced internationals like Petr Cech, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Deco, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and the list goes on and on. Their squad is considered so strong that their bench is good enough to start for a lot of other teams.

Past legends at Stamford Bridge include Bobby Tambling who till date is their top goal scorer with 202 goals, Peter Osgood, Gianfranco Zola, etc.

Chelsea are also nicknamed as the Blues or the Pensioners. Their home is Stamford Bridge in West London which can hold up to 42055 people.

3. LIVERPOOL

liverpool.jpgAs of now Liverpool are the most successful club in England. They have won more league titles (18) and Champions league titles (5) than any other English club. But the club, now managed by Spaniard Rafael Benitez has had a lean spell since 1990 when they won their last league title. Benitez has carved a reputation for himself as a master tactician but he is often criticized for his rotation policies and his belief in regularly changing his starting 11 which according to him is done to keep the players fresh over a long and grueling season.

These days captain Steven Gerrard is the heart and soul of Liverpool. Being a Liverpudlian himself he has a great affinity with the fans. Striker Fernando Torres has also taken the premier league by storm since joining last year whereas Jamie Carragher has been a stalwart at center back for the last decade.

The list of Liverpool legends is never ending but without doubt the most well known would have to be Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush. Roger Hunt was another great Liverpool striker in the 1960's.

Since their formation in 1894 Liverpool have played their home games at Anfield which presently has a capacity of 45362.

4. MANCHESTER UNITED

man_u.jpgManchester United has been the most dominant club in England in the last 20 years in terms of trophies won. Under manager, Sir Alex Ferguson who has been at the club since 1986, they have won 10 league titles making Ferguson the most successful manager in English football history. United are also the current premier league and Champions league holders.

Currently Manchester United have one of the World's best players on their books in Cristiano Ronaldo. But there are some other skillful players also like Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov.

Previously some great players have worn the red shirt of Manchester United. Bobby Charlton and Denis Law come to mind from the 60's. In the more recent past, players like Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and of course David Beckham have given great service to the club.

The home of Manchester United is the Old Trafford stadium. Old Trafford which is also known as the theatre of dreams has a capacity of 76212 which makes it the biggest club football stadium in Britain.

 

All the rest...

5. ASTON VILLA

HOME CITY: Birmingham
MANAGER: Martin O'Neill
STADIUM: Villa Park (42640)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: William Eric Houghton, Brian Little, Peter Schmeichel

6. BLACKBURN ROVERS

HOME CITY: Blackburn
MANAGER: Paul Ince
STADIUM: Ewood Park (31367)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Steve Archibald, Alan Shearer, Mark Hughes

7. BOLTON WANDERERS

HOME CITY: Bolton (outskirts of Manchester)
MANAGER: Gary Megson
STADIUM: The Reebok Stadium (28723)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Nat Lofthouse, Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff

8. EVERTON

HOME CITY: Liverpool
MANAGER: David Moyes
STADIUM: Goodison Park (40157)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Dixie Dean, Graeme Sharp, Neville Southall

9. FULHAM

HOME CITY: London
MANAGER: Roy Hodgson
STADIUM: Craven Cottage (26000)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Bobby Moore, George Best, Edwin Van Der Sar

 

10. HULL CITY

HOME CITY: Hull
MANAGER: Phil Brown
STADIUM: Kingston Communications stadium (25404)

 

11. MANCHESTER CITY

HOME CITY: Manchester
MANAGER: Mark Hughes
STADIUM: The City of Manchester Stadium (48000)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman

 

12. MIDDLESBROUGH

HOME CITY: Middlesbrough
MANAGER: Gareth Southgate
STADIUM: The Riverside Stadium (35100)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Brian Clough, Juninho Paulista, Garerth Southgate

 

13. NEWCASTLE UNITED

HOME CITY: Newcastle
MANAGER: Joe Kinnear (interim manager)
STADIUM: St James's Park (52387)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Jackie Milburn, Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer

 

14. PORTSMOUTH

HOME CITY: Portsmouth
MANAGER: Harry Redknapp
STADIUM: Fratton Park (20688)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: George Graham, Teddy Sheringham, Andrew Cole

 

15. STOKE CITY

HOME CITY: Stoke-on-Trent
MANAGER: Tony Pulis
STADIUM: Britannia stadium (28000)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks

 

16. SUNDERLAND

HOME CITY: Sunderland
MANAGER: Roy Keane
STADIUM: The Stadium of Light (49000)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

 

17. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

HOME CITY: London
MANAGER: Juande Ramos
STADIUM: White Hart Lane (36244)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Ossie Ardiles, Jurgen Klinsmann, David Ginola, Gary Lineker

 

18. WEST BROMWICH ALBION

HOME CITY: West Bromwich
MANAGER: Tony Mowbray
STADIUM: The Hawthorns (28003)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Tony Brown, Bryan Robson

 

19. WEST HAM UNITED

HOME CITY: London
MANAGER: Gianfranco Zola
STADIUM: Upton Park (officially known as Boleyn Ground) (40003)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: Bobby Moore, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard

 

20. WIGAN ATHLETIC

HOME CITY: Wigan, Greater Manchester
MANAGER: Steve Bruce
STADIUM: The JJB Stadium (25135)
FAMOUS PLAYERS: David Fairclough, Archie Gemmill

The figure in the brackets indicates the capacity of that particular stadium.