EPL: Entertainment Galore

Every year over half a billion people all over the world can not wait for the summer to get over and for the month August to come soon enough, for the EPL or the English Premier League starts mid August. The tier one club football competition in england, EPL is one of the most popular sporting events and involves the top twenty football clubs in england playing a home and away league format over a ten month period from August to May.

During the late eighties English club football was in a precarious state with most of the stadiums in a bad state and hooliganism was rife in many matches. Attendance was very poor and the competition was a distant third behind the Italian and spanish leagues in terms of prestige and fame. So when the 1991 season ended the top english sides decided to start a new competition to improve the game. This league would be independent and could negotiate TV rights on it own, soon a lucrative rights deal was struck with SkyB and EPL was on its way to world domination. Presently it arguably is the most attractive and competitive league in the world.

The clubs play each other twice every season(home and away) and the bottom three clubs are relegated to a lower division and the top three sides are promoted from the lower league(called the championship) into the EPL. The biggest clubs that are involved in the competition are Liverpool,Manchester United,Arsenal, Chelsea,Spurs,Aston Villa and now Manchester City. Only four teams have won the league so far – Manchester United,Arsenal,Chelsea and Blackburn. As is the usual norm the league has some fierce derbies, which are matches played between teams in the same county or city, the fiercest of which are between Liverpool-Manchester United,Sunderland-Newcastle United,Arsenal-Tottenham Spurs,Liverpool-Everton to name a few. The derbies are always hotly contested affairs with plenty of passion and tempers all around.

My favorite team in the league is Liverpool FC who play their games at Anfield football stadium in the city of Liverpool.  Historically the most successful club in england, Liverpool FC have won a record 18 league titles(now equalled by Manchester United) and 5 European Cups. In their hey days during the eighties they were the most popular club in Europe, boasting some of the finest players including Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish,Kevin Keegan,Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen. Although they have not been very successful post the formation of the premier league they are showing signs of returning to their glory days under their present coach Rafael Benitez. The famous duo of Fernando Torres-Steven Gerrard are unstoppable on song and several other fantastic footballers including Pepe Reina,Masherano,Riera,Carragher and Glen Johnson play for Liverpool FC today.

Liverpool FC’s fiercest rivalry is against Manchester United and Everton. The former called the Lancashire derby is between the two of the most successful clubs in england, the match matters so much to the fans that a victory over either side makes up for all other disappointments in the season. The past five decades of English football have been dominated by one of the two sides and this matchup make up the highlight of the season for either sets of fans. The Merseyside derby played out between Liverpool and Everton is fiercely contested too, with the match producing more red cards than any other fixture in the league.

The Liverpool FC is generally considered to have one of the best fan groups among clubs and teams travelling to Anfield are always wary of the “twelfth man” as the fans are reffered to. Deafening renditions of the club anthem “You’ll never walk alone” and Hail Liverpool greet the visitors, with every move by a Liverpool player cheered and every opposing move jeered, it is one of the toughest stadiums to play in. European nights, when the continental competition matches are played, are always special at Anfield with the fans out in full number and drilled to perfection.  The famed “Kop End” was named in honor of a Boer War location the hill of Skion Kop and in keeping with the name passion is always overflowing at Anfield.

The present situation is not so rosy for the club, with doubts over the club’s financial health post its takeover by the American duo Hicks and Gillet, injury problems has reduced the club to scrapping for a top four finish which would guarantee the lucrative Champions League football next season. But as they say so often, football is a funny game and we never know what is in store the next season. Here’s hoping to Liverpool FC being crowned champions of England next year!!

Praveen Desabandu