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2021-22 Premier League Opening Weekend: Who’s playing, why it matters, and team info

If you’re a big EPL fan, you probably know a lot of this already. If not, welcome to the wealthiest and wildest sporting league in the world.

Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale looks on during the FC Internazionale training session at the club’s training ground Suning Training Center at Appiano Gentile on August 06, 2021 in Como, Italy. Photo by Mattia Ozbot - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

The English Premier League is the largest sporting entity on earth, but for new fans of the sport the “soccerazzi” can be an intimidating bunch to try and learn the game from.

We take a look at some of those that will be amongst the favorites this season, and give a touch of background on what makes the teams in the EPL special.

The Big Six

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the “Big Six” clubs. That means even when they’re really bad, they won’t be in danger of relegation because of the massive amounts of money and infrastructure they have. Since the EPL started in 1992 all six of those teams have been in the top flight every season except for Man City, who has held steady there since 2002.

These six and Everton are the teams that basically fall to relegation each season. We’ll go over each of them briefly here.

The Holders (aka reigning champions): Manchester City

Manchester City is what happens when you have all the money in the world. Last year they won the EPL and the Carabao Cup, but lost the Champions League Final to Chelsea. It’s the one trophy they haven’t won, and they’re the one team that would probably trade the EPL title for a UEFA one if they had to choose. City have won the league the EPL in three of the last four seasons, and are favored to do it again.

Ilkay Gündogan, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ederson — these guys could each chip in and buy any non-G-20 country of their choosing. They are absolutely loaded and heavy favorites to repeat.

Arsenal

Was once the best club in the world, now they can’t even make a European competition. Still rebuilding after longtime head coach Arsene Wegner left a few seasons ago. They play pretty but haven’t won the EPL since 2004, though they have won four FA Cups the last seven seasons.

Chelsea

They have Christian Pulisic, who even if you’re the most casual American soccer fan you might know, so if you’re a neutral we’ll let you jump on the bandwagon here. But realize they did win the Champions League last year, which makes you a frontrunner.

Olivier Giroud is gone however it looks like Romelu Lukaku is coming, and that’s an upgrade. Lukaku is one of the best strikers in the world, and Pulisic will need to fit his game around the likely-Inter Milan transfer.

Last season manager Thomas Tuchel went from fired at Paris Saint-Germain to leading the eventual European winners in a shade over four months. Soccer is weird.

Liverpool

Mo Salah is one of the best players in the world and a wonderful human being, and his manager Jurgen Klopp is pretty fantastic in his own right. But after an incredible 2019 and 2020, they struggled with injuries last year.

Enter Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, but that’s likely not enough. The guys that own the Red Sox own Liverpool too, and they’re still trying to spend money to compete this season.

Also watch their fans sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, one of the great sporting traditions of the world. And then sing “You’ll never get a job” when your club plays them. The Merseyside Derby with Everton is always an event. Sometimes the fans even accuse a player of drug use, so he snorts the goal line after converting a penalty to celebrate. Soccer is awesome.

Manchester United

City’s hated rivals Manchester United won eight of the first nine EPL’s and were basically the Yankees of the 90’s-00’s, but the morons that own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the biggest club in the world and screwed it up (while making money hand over fist anyway).

They did pay $93 million for Jadon Sancho from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund this offseason, scored Raphaël Varane from Real Madrid, and still have Paul Pogba who was incredible at the Euro 2020 tournament this summer.

Also their manager and former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the best nickname in sports: The Baby-Faced Assassin.

Tottenham Hotspur

The only one of the Big Six to not win an EPL title so far (the EPL was formed in 1992, and replaced the old “First Division”). They haven’t won any top division since 1961, the FA Cup since 1991, and the Carabao since 2008. It’s pretty echoy in the Tottenham trophy room, which makes for great memes.

Also their best player and the captain of England Harry Kane likely wants out, and unlike American sports when a good player wants to leave, you basically have to sell him or things just gets worse.

It’s an Aaron Rodgers-type situation, and like Rodgers in Green Bay, Spurs are the only club the 28-year-old Kane has ever known. But the team wants $200 million from another club to let him leave, which considering his talent and marketability seems fair.

If he’s still at Tottenham on August 31st, he’s got to stay there until at least January 2nd. And if he’s there on February 1st, he’ll be forced to finish the season in North London. You can sell and move players in soccer, but only during certain windows.

Nicknames

These aren’t like American-style sports nicknames. Few clubs have mascots, and you wouldn’t say you’re a “Blues fan,” (because there’s two EPL clubs that are Blues, and even more if you get into the lower leagues) you’re a “Chelsea supporter.”

Arsenal: The Arsenal, The Gunners
Aston Villa: The Villains
Brentford: The Bees
Burnley: The Clarets
Chelsea: The Blues, Chelski (the owner is a Russian oligarch)
Crystal Palace: Palace, The Glaziers, The Eagles
Everton: The Blues, The Toffees
Leeds United: The Peacocks, The Whites, United
Leicester City: The Foxes
Liverpool: The Reds
Manchester City: The Citizens, The Sky Blues
Manchester United: The Red Devils, The Reds, Man U
Newcastle United: The Magpies, The Geordies
Norwich City: The Canaries
Southampton: The Saints
Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs, The Lilywhites
Watford: The Hornets
West Ham: The Hammers, The Irons
Wolverhampton: The Wanderers, Wolves

Picks

With some exceptions, such as Leicester City in 2016 being the biggest of all time, going with the chalk tends to work out in English soccer. Man City are -160 to win the league at DraftKings Sportsbook, and if anything that seems like value.

If Man United are ever going to put it back together, this would be the year. There’s some value on the Red Devils at +750, and they have talent up and down the roster. But will the Glazer’s spend what might be needed in January? If they do, you’d love having this price.

Lukaku will make Chelsea an instant contender, but the bet here might be +140 for The Blues to finish Top 2 instead of going for it all at +500.

Here are the odds to win the 2021 English Premier League from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Premier League Preseason Odds

Club Winner Top 2 Top 4
Club Winner Top 2 Top 4
Man City -165 -500 -3500
Chelsea +500 +140 -500
Liverpool +550 +165 -400
Man Utd +750 +190 -300
Tottenham +5000 +2000 +500
Arsenal +5000 +2000 +400
Leicester +5000 +2000 +450
Everton +10000 +6500 +1200
Leeds +10000 +6500 +1200
West Ham +15000 +6500 +1400
Aston Villa +15000 +6500 +1600
Wolves +20000 +10000 +2800
Brighton +25000 +10000 +2000
Southampton +40000 +10000 +3500
Newcastle +50000 +25000 +8000
Burnley +60000 +25000 +8000
Crystal Palace +60000 +20000 +8000
Brentford +80000 +25000 +8000
Norwich +100000 +30000 +10000
Watford +100000 +30000 +10000

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