TMS Premier League Preview 2009

Saturday marks the beginning of the new Barclay's Premier League season. For those ignorant Americans who do not know what I'm referring to, the Premier League is the top division of English soccer. Last year I wrote an expansive preview of the 20 teams, ranking them in order of projected finish. I have deemed those rankings a dismal failure, so I will not attempt that feat again. I am also lacking in time for a proper write-up of each squad, so I will discuss the upcoming season with a primary focus on the clubs which TMS Bartenders follow.

Last season, Manchester United won their third title in a row. Runners-up were Liverpool, who surged in the second half of the year, followed by Chelsea. Those three teams, along with Arsenal who finished fourth, are annually considered the best of the best. The primary goal for any other club is just to crack the top four. These perennial second-class clubs include Aston Villa, Everton (who defeated the MLS All-Stars two weeks ago in a thrilling penalty kick shoot out), Tottenham, and Manchester City.

A couple of our Bartenders were hopeless Premier League fanatics long before they joined TMS. Their enthusiasm has carried over, as nearly all of us have done a bit of research and aligned ourselves with one club or another.

For your pleasure, I present a list of the Premier League clubs that the TMS Bartenders will be watching this season:

Liverpool (Lingering Bursitis) - LB is the sole Brit of our modest blog, and one of the instigators of our soccer infatuation. He was actually born in Liverpool, and is the only one of us who can claim his team by birthright. Liverpool are favored by some to upset Man U at the top of the table this season. They're led by Steven Gerrard and the nimble Fernando Torres. For a quick collection of some of Torres' greatest goals, click here.

Arsenal (The Hundley and Arcturus) - The Arse have had a bit of a rough offseason, losing more players to transfer than they've brought in, including the team's second leading scorer from last year, Emmanuel Adebayor. Expectations are always high at Emirates Stadium, but it may be challenge enough clinging to the top five.

West Ham United (Chip Wesley) - After a brief flirtation with Portsmouth, Chip devoted his time to West Ham. Chip's father has worked in a steel mill since the age of 15. West Ham was thus a natural fit for Chip's family, as the club was founded by Thames Ironworkers in 1895. The team's anthem, sung by fans during matches, is titled "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" (insert Michael Jackson joke here).

Everton (Brant Brown) - When I first decided to follow the Premier League, I spent a lot of time hashing out the histories of the various squads before adopting Everton. They're a classy, historic club who haven't won in just long enough to make any cup or league victory really special. They're the other team from Liverpool, which provides for a very Yankees/Mets type of rivalry with Liverpool FC. In a stroke of luck, I was able to take in the aforementioned match between Everton and the MLS All-Stars, which I hope is not my last opportunity to catch them live. Everton also employs the superior goalkeeper of the United States national team, Tim Howard.

Manchester City (Chaim Witz) - Chaim deliberated much of last season, and recently settled on Man City. Not surprising he would choose them, due to the questionable nature of his sexuality. The team was purchased at this time last year by the Abu Dhabi United Group. Arab ownership would seem to pose an issue for Chaim due to his Jewish heritage, but he insists that religious friction can be overlooked as long as the team keeps it's pretty baby blue colors. Man City's new owners also dumped an assload of money into the transfer market, prying away such gifted talent as Carlos Tevez (the Neandertal pictured at left) and Roque Santa Cruz. We shall see if money truly can buy happiness, or at least a top five finish. Likely not.

Regardless of what club you may follow, the upcoming slate looks to be as exciting as ever. And if you're not into EPL soccer yet, now is as good a time as any to join in the fun.

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