You may be sitting there thinking, “Wait, how can it be time for more soccer? Didn’t the World Cup end like seven minutes ago?” And you’d be right! But the world of footy never stops (especially if you’re one of those weirdos who watches MLS), and this weekend sees the new Premier League season kick off! And anyone you know who watches soccer watches the EPL, so it’s the only one worth previewing (because only Madrid or Barcelona will win in Spain, Juventus in Italy, Munich in Germany, so it’s the only league with at least some drama. Or not, as you’ll see). Let’s rip through it!
Arsenal: So the first two years I’ve done this, I’ve written the same thing about the Gunners because it’s what always happened. Either everyone would get hurt in August, they’d slog around for the half the season, close furiously to finish nowhere good and then everyone would be excited about the next season. Or they’d start out hot, everyone would get hurt in February, and they’d fall apart like a frozen terminator. Well now they’ve let Arsene Wenger toddle off to wherever people like him go (I assume the most boring town in France), hired Unai Emery who’s famous for guiding PSG to some of the biggest full-body dry heaves in the Champions League in history with the world’s most expensive roster. But hey, he won a couple of NITs with Sevilla so you never know? Arsenal have a tantalizing front line with Lacazette and Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil is probably going to have a big “FUCK ALL Y’ALL” season after whatever that World Cup was for Germany and for him. But they still don’t have much of a midfield behind him, or defense. It seems like 5th is their limit. Oh, and they’ve just been taken over by shithead-with-a-mustache (redundant) Stan Kroenke, so their future might look a lot like a port-a-john on Day 3 of a festival.
Bournemouth: This is at least the third straight year we’re all wondering how Eddie Howe is still managing at this club. Everton should have thrown everything at him, and maybe he’ll take the poisoned chalice that is Newcastle when Rafa Benitez resists murdering owner Mike Ashley and just leaves. Bournemouth will play more attractive football than any of the bottom 10 clubs have a right to, and they might finish 10th. That’s about as good as they can hope. And maybe Howe decides this is as far as he can take them.
Brighton: A miracle they survived, despite not being able to throw a grape into the ocean as far as attack went. They’ve bought an Iranian international, Allreza Jahanbakhsh, to help with that and I definitely didn’t have to check how to spell that five times. He scored 21 goals in Holland last year. You’ll recall Jozy Altidore did that once too, and he doesn’t know how his legs work. They’ll fight hard, be tough to beat, and be in a relegation battle by Thanksgiving.
Burnley: There is always a club that flies too close to the sun. That has every chance of being Burnley. They’ll add European football to this squad, which isn’t very deep. And while Sean Dyche does a great Sam Allardyce impression in that no one is quicker to point out his record despite what his squad costs versus his opponent’s, his teams play boring-ass football that only lasts for so long and will get found out on the European stage. It’ll also tire out and distract his players, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they find themselves in a relegation battle that Dyche probably long ago thought he’d never see again.
Cardiff: Their manager Neil Warnock would fit right in in the NHL. He’s an old, drunk blowhard who has not time for new ideas unless they flatter him. His teams are built on graft and effort and are torture to watch or follow. But he gets clubs up from the Championship, and then watches them become overmatched in the Premier League because his only tactic is “GO GET ‘EM, BOYS!” Well, that and blaming refs and foreign managers. Also their owner is one of the bigger raging assholes in the league, which is saying something, and changed their colors from blue to red even though they’re known as “The Bluebirds.” Remember that one guy from Bloodsport who tried to bribe everyone and loved Van Damme and always wore the nice suit? He grew up and became this guy.
Chelsea: You’d think a team with one of the richest people in the world as owner would figure out a way to hire a new manager a little sooner than three weeks before a new season, but you’d be wrong! Chelsea haggled with Napoli over Maurizio Sarri for so long that’s how it worked, because Napoli know how much money they have. So they’ve only been able to buy Jorginho to pair with Kante in the middle, instead of Danny Drinkwater which was high comedy for all of us out here in the fields. And a new keeper because Courtois has finally fucked off to Madrid, and this one’s even more expensive than the one Liverpool got. They’re still going to watch Alvaro Morata’s kleenex-like confidence disappear by October and there won’t be anyone around to score except for the 10 dumbass goals Olivier Giroud manages every year (they’re always in the last five minutes and they’re always off his shoulder). Eden Hazard will be checking out the real estate listings in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris all season, and if anyone in defense gets hurt they’ll have to play David Luiz in a back four (remember how that worked out in Belo Horizonte in ’14) or the feet-less Gary Cahill. And Willian doesn’t want to be here anymore either. Seems like they’ll be drinking buddies for Arsenal.
Crystal Palace: They have one player in Wilfried Zaha, and their manager is three days older than water and not much more clued in than said water. They haven’t bought anyone, so unless Zaha goes “God mode” again, they could be in for a fight. Their best midfielder in Yohan Cabaye thought it was better to play in the UAE. That’s always a good sign.
Everton: This is where I’m supposed to point and laugh. They hired the manager, Marco Silva, they wanted to hire last year but then they had to settle for Sam Allardyce, a time for the club that will be looked upon as fondly as a roadside prostate exam. Richarlison will suck as soon as it gets cold again, and Lucas Digne is fine. But yesterday they added two from Barcelona and might have gotten Kurt Zouma on loan. Still, they don’t have a striker worth a shit anywhere and they’ll have to false-nine their way into goals. They’re destined to finish 7th or 8th from here until the end of the world.
Fulham: Probably your new favorite team. They got promoted playing probably the most exciting style in the Championship, led by left back/left winger/I’ll-go-where-the-fuck-I-please Ryan Sessegnon, who has a chance to be the next big thing. They’ve added Seri and Schurrle, which sounds like a hell of a law firm, and Mitrovic is simply the most bonkers striker out there, liable to score, get sent off, or just stand still and scream for 90 minutes equally. Whatever they do, you’ll enjoy it.
Huddersfield: Did you know David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp are buddies? If you didn’t the broadcasters will be happy to tell you eight times. They miracled their ass to safety last season, haven’t added anyone, and are going to try and grunt and fart their way to it again. Probably not going to happen.
Part 2 this afternoon…