EPL 2011-2012 Season

The first week is just about in the books, shy one game to be played tonight and Spurs’ postponed home tie. Surprises? Disappointments? (Never to early to be disappointed!)

My two biggest thoughts after watching every match except for Chelsea v Stoke:

  1. What the hell happened to QPR’s defense? There’s an acknowledged step up from the Championship, but to give away 4 … at home … to Bolton? To be fair, one of them was a high corner shot that would have been next to impossible for anyone to block, but at least two, if not all three, of the remainders could be attributed directly to defensive disarray. It’s early days, but man, do they look like they have a lot of work to do.

  2. I’m so glad Spurs don’t look like they’re going to act on any of the Joey Barton rumors. He’s entertaining as hell to watch as a neutral, but I wouldn’t want to have that ticking timebomb in my club’s starting 11.

I’m looking forward to watching tonight’s match when I get home from work. I think Swansea may surprise a few folks this year. I’m still giving this match to City, but it could well be closer than many thing.

  1. What the hell happened to QPR’s defense? There’s an acknowledged step up from the Championship, but to give away 4 … at home … to Bolton? To be fair, one of them was a high corner shot that would have been next to impossible for anyone to block, but at least two, if not all three, of the remainders could be attributed directly to defensive disarray. It’s early days, but man, do they look like they have a lot of work to do.

Yeah, that was a surprising scoreline. QPR kinda walked the Championship last year, and while I was expecting them to struggle, I sure as hell didn’t think Bolton would put 4 past them. In somewhat funnier QPR news, Kieron Dyer got injured in that game.

Funnier still was Barton hauling Gervinho up after he dove, then falling to the ground as if shot by a sniper after a little slap from said Haircut of the Season candidate.

Fulham-Villa was quite the snoozefest…

Thing is, he stayed on the field and Gervinho left. The results are a positive for his team. Unless they start handing out suspensions for simulation, his actions turn out to be in the best interests of his team.

i hope you did not bet on this.

Time to irresponsibly kneejerk Aguero into my fantasy football squad!

Yeah that was quite a way to introduce himself to the Premiership. He looked like a man possessed.

Hey what’s the slickest web presence for EPL scores, recaps and hi-lights? Where do I point an American sports fan that doesn’t quite get soccer but would if they could digest it through new media?

I did not, I wasn’t feeling that foolishly optimistic for them! I really enjoyed the first half, though. Second half… yeah. I was hoping for a 2-0 final line out of it, not 4-0. I still think I’m going to love watching Swans every week this year. They play pretty football.

It depends just how new-media you want. If you want super-glitz, try FootyTube. It’s a one-stop shop for match highlights, condensed matches, and random videos and news with a potentially pleasing “Web 2.0” feel to it, if you’re into that sort of thing. I find it a bit too visually distracting, personally.

My personal favorite general news source is Football Filter, which is a no-nonsense aggregation of a bunch of different news, rumor, video, and other sources into easy to digest categories, but it might not have the instant “THIS is what you want to be looking at” that someone who’s not already a fan might want.

For EPL news in particular, my daily stop after Football Filter and the Gaurdian’s football site is EPL Talk. It has less breadth than some other sources, but much more of a conversational tone.

If your American sports fan starts to get it and wants to get a bit more into tactics, he needs to go no father than Zonal Marking.

See which of those fits your bill best.

I’m basically thinking a Match of the Day in web form. The EPL talk link with a combination of something for scores and standings should be good, thanks.

US sports leagues have a really focused web design. If you look at MLB or NFL or even MLSsoccer.com, they all have slick sites with stats and (limited) videos available. They don’t have the analysis, but they have the facts and big news in focus. FootyTube and Football Filter, while great for fans, are just a huge buffet of unknown to the beginner.

I think the two best bets I could give for a US-major-league style website for the EPL would be the respective portion of either ESPN SoccerNet or BleacherReport.

Neither of those (especially the ESPN site) look too far removed from how NFL.com or MLB.com look right now.

I was going to recommend ESPN for a new American fan, the British sites, while great for those of us that have followed the game for years, can be a bit overwhelming to newbies.

Jeez, I didn’t know ESPN even had Premiership coverage. Should have figured. It does seem to hit most of the bullet points, but fuck, it’s ESPN. I can’t recommend that. Plenty of other good links, thanks.

Man do I love Zonal Marking. Guardian’s hit and miss, but generally quite good. It’s made to look worse by their cricket coverage, which is absolutely incredible. Football365 is not a bad place to look either.

ESPN have a mobile app that provides videos of every Premier League goal shortly after they happen and some other resources too. You had to pay last season but I believe it’s free now - I certainly got it for free, but not sure if that was a limited thing. It’s not bad at all.

If you’re looking for nightly television coverage of the EPL you want Fox Soccer Channel. They do an hour show nightly and mostly cover the EPL and obligatory MLS plus go around most of the better European leagues (and CL) with news and updates. Plus they broadcast the nightly Sky Sports from London. The Fox Sports website coverage of soccer isn’t bad either in an ESPNy kind of way.

I actually prefer SI’s soccer to ESPN’s. SI covers all the European leagues, South America, and the USMNT. While it’s not updated as often as the Guardian, the writing’s understandable to me as someone who only started following a year ago.

I just started following the EPL this season and I’m trying to get some basic knowledge. Is there anywhere that summarizes like, ‘How does this all work’? What are these four championships I hear about? FA Cup? UEFA? What’s the top prize for English football teams in any given year? At the end of the season do the top point holders have playoffs or is that basically it?

I chose semi-randomly to cheer for Chelsea (and I’m sticking by them though thick and thin by gum!) , when I hear commentators talk about Chelsea it seems like there’s some history there that I’m not getting from Wikipedia.

For EPL teams, there are 3 domestic trophies to content for, two tournaments and the league itself.

The tournaments:

The Football League Cup: currently known as the Carling Cup after it’s sponser. This is contended by all 92 teams in the Football League; EPL teams get byes until the second or third round (Champions League or Europa League participents enter in the third round). This is a straight knockout competition (90 minutes, then penalties) until the semi-finals, which are played home and away. The final is at Wembley in IIRC February. I’ll be chartiable and say that some teams take this competition more seriously than others coughArsenalcough, and that this has the wackiest interpretation of the away goals rule I’ve run into. The current holders are Birmingham City.

The FA Cup: This one predates the Football League itself, and while some of the luster has left, it’s still well respected. While not exactly completly open, there were 762 teams that entered it in 2009-2010. Unless they change the format this year, teams are drawn against each other; if a tie occurs, there’s a replay at the other teams ground. Rinse and repeat until someone wins; new draw, new round, etc. EPL teams enter in the third round proper (follow the link: there’s a shitload of rounds prior to that). The semi-finals and finals are held at Wembley Stadium, and the final is in May. If you’re not English, you generally see teams you’ve never heard of in this one. The current holders are Manchester City (note: if you’re new, this is not the same as Manchester United)

The league:

The English Premier League: The EPL is the top end of the English league system. It’s a straight league format; teams play each other twice, home and away. 3 Points for a win, 1 for a draw (no extra time, no penalties) and 0 for a loss. Whoever gets the most points at the end of the season wins, tiebreakers are (in order) goals scored and then goal difference. Apparently there can be a playoff if two or more teams are tied after that, though I’m not sure if that’s happened. The three teams with the lowest points are relegated to the Football League Championship, so there is something for everyone to play for. The top two teams from the FL Championship are promoted to the EPL; there’s a playoff for teams 3-6 for the other promotion spot. The current EPL title holders are Manchester United. Relegated last year: Birmingham City, Blackpool, and West Ham United. Promoted this year: Swansea City (they’re Welsh; there’s some godfathering in there I’m not going to get into here), Norwich, and Queens Park Rangers (helpfully, you can refer to them as QPR).

I’m going to go have a beer and then explain the UEFA stuff.

Also, I’d put money on Blackburn being relegated this year.