Which Premier League team should you support? A guide for Cincinnati's new soccer fans

Teams listed in order of finish in the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


Home: London

Primary colors: Blue and white

Top players: Eden Hazard (midfielder), Thibaut Courtois (goalkeeper), N'Golo Kante (midfielder)

Reasons to root: Chelsea is the defending English Premier League champion, but the club didn’t have to play any European football, which taxed the depth of their rivals last season and will be a factor this year. Second-year manager Antonio Conte is eccentric on the sidelines and a spectacle to watch. Hazard and Kante are two of the best players in the EPL. The Blues are one of the top defensive teams but perfected the counter-attack last season so the defense isn’t just sitting back -- it’s aggressive and playing in a way that leads to goals.

Reasons to avoid: It is likely Chelsea will be without high-scoring striker Diego Costa this season after he and Conte had a disagreement, and the club let a lot of players go this offseason. They haven’t yet brought in reinforcements so depth is a serious concern. The Blues also have UEFA Champion's League football to worry about, so injuries could be a factor with the additional matches.

Which jersey should you get?: N’Golo Kante. He was the engine behind the past two Premier League champs -- Leicester City and Chelsea -- yet still is not a household name. Can’t go wrong with this guy.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. (Stephen Pond/Getty Images)


Home: London

Primary colors: Navy blue and white

Top players: Harry Kane (striker), Deli Alli (midfielder), Hugo Lloris (goalkeeper)

Reasons to root: Tottenham is extremely popular in the United States -- perhaps because it has the look of an underdog. The team spends what seems to be half the money of others yet has finished in the top four each of the last two years. Kane, the English national team striker, is one of the best goal scorers in the world, and Alli is a fantastic midfielder who also plays for England. The team seemed to jell the last couple years with a young core that matches up with others as one of the most balanced squads in the league. Another bright spot to build on from last year, the Spurs made it so there was not a “St. Tottenham Day” last year -- the annual day where Arsenal secures being ahead of them for the season.

Reasons to avoid: The problem for Tottenham is depth. It doesn’t have a great striker behind Kane and doesn’t have the money to hold second and third options at positions the way the other teams do. Playing in the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium -- until 2018-19 when the club's stadium is done -- is also a concern as something that could affect the Spurs.

Which jersey should you get?: Dele Alli. Harry Kane is the obvious choice, but Alli is one of the most exciting players in the EPL. And his jersey says Dele on the back, which is cool.

Manchester City striker Sergio "Kun" Aguero. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Home: Manchester

Primary colors: Sky blue and white

Top players: Gabriel Jesus (forward), Sergio Aguero (forward), Kevin De Bruyne (midfielder)

Reasons to root: An explosive team, Man City has some of the best attackers/creators in the world, and addressed its biggest weakness this offseason by bolstering the defense. The club has a new goalkeeper and signed high-priced defenders, like Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, and have the money to go after more, thanks to status as one of the wealthiest clubs in the world. The Citizens (or Blues) are led by one of the top managers in Pep Guardiola, who is in his second season with the team, and this could be a year they win the title (experts are predicting the champion to come from one of the Manchester squads).

Reasons to avoid: There were times last season when Man City just disintegrated, and the defense was just awful. Those woes should be behind The Citizens, but many fans still despise the club as one that only became relevant because of money since Abu Dhabi United Group bought in about a decade ago. Manchester also is about four hours from London, so potential travel interest is low for those with that priority.

Which jersey should you get?: Leroy Sane. The young German up-and-comer with the big hair should be a big part of the City attack for years to come.

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho (Jan Kruger/Getty Images)


Home: Liverpool

Primary color: Blood red

Top players: Philippe Coutinho (midfielder), Sadio Mane’ (forward), Jordan Henderson (midfielder)

Reasons to root: A club in a bit of a resurgence, Liverpool is returning to the Champions League for the first time in a few years under third-year manager Jurgen Klopp, who is one of the most entertaining managers on the sideline. Like Manchester City, this is a big offensive team, and there are few sides as dazzling in possession when Liverpool is on top of its game. Forwards Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke should prove good signings and add to the potent attack. The team is owned by Fenway Sports Group/Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry, so there is an American connection.

Reasons to avoid: The Reds have struggled defensively and didn’t make any big moves that will help when they are out of possession. This could be a frustrating year, but fans have gotten used to that. Liverpool hasn’t won the league since 1989-90 and its last major title came a little more than a decade ago. The Reds’ best player, Coutinho, is also being pursued by FC Barcelona in a huge money deal. The city is about three hours from London, two hours by train.

Which jersey should you get?: Daniel Sturridge. He’s kind of a forgotten superstar because of injuries the past couple seasons, but he should be back strong this year.

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette. (Steve Bardens/Getty Images)


Home: London

Primary colors: Red and white

Top players: Alexis Sanchez (forward), Mesut Ozil (midfielder), Alexandre Lacazette (striker)

Reasons to root: The Gunners boast a ton of talent and have a history (until last year) of finishing in the top four to earn a spot in the Champions League which means lucrative money and prestige), as well as some success in winning the FA Cup, which is the English version of the U.S. Open Cup. Arsenal beat the odds at Wembley in this year’s FA Cup final, overcoming Chelsea in a shootout and perhaps that scrappy performance is a sign of the team fans can expect this season. They also topped Chelsea in a shootout to win the Community Shield -- a game that leads off the new season. The addition of goal scorer Lacazette in a club-record transfer should be a boost to the offense.

Reasons to avoid: Cincinnati Bengals fans can easily relate to Arsenal. The boss -- yes, they call managers/coaches bosses -- has been with the club since 1996 but hasn’t won the Premier League since 2003-04 and it seems every year fans are questioning whether Arsene Wenger (pronounced Venger) will make it another season. Arsenal is maddening to its fans -- flashy but inconsistent with a tendency to lose games it shouldn't and fizzle out late in the season. After finishing outside the top four last year, Arsenal has the agony of playing in the Europa League -- the second-tier version of the Champions League -- in which many of the top teams in England probably would rather not play. The club also has ongoing contract disputes with Sanchez and Ozil, which could make the year especially tricky for Wegner.

Which jersey should you get?: Aaron Ramsey. Avoid stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil since their futures are uncertain. Ramsey is less obvious and therefore a cooler jersey to sport.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)


Home: Manchester

Primary colors: Red and gold

Top players: Romelu Lukaku (forward), Paul Pogba (midfielder), David de Gea (goalkeeper)

Reasons to root: Manchester United is considered to be the New York Yankees of the Premier League in terms of spending and historic success, so the resources are there to put together a quality team year in and year out. And it’s fitting that Jose Mourhino – the Bill Belichick of the league -- is its manager. If you’re looking for defense, United is solid, as only Tottenham conceded fewer goals last year. The Red Devils should be quicker and more potent up front this season with Everton transfer Romelu Lukaku bolstering the attack. Improvements on the offense overall -- the arrival of Nemanja Matic should free up Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba in the middle -- leads some to believe United will challenge for the title this year.

Reasons to avoid: The club has struggled to be great since Sir Alex Ferguson left the team three managers ago, and the Red Devils have been known to lull fans to sleep with their tendency to eek out ties in low-scoring games. If you’re a Yankees hater, this isn’t the team for you.

Which jersey should you get?: Ander Herrera. There are lots of Man U jerseys out there and most will be Paul Pogba or those who still think it’s OK to wear Wayne Rooney. Herrera was United’s player of the year last season. Go with him.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. (Andy Astfalck/Getty Images)


Home: Liverpool

Primary colors: Royal blue and white

Top players: Jordan Pickford (goalkeeper), Ross Barkley (midfielder), Michael Keane (defender)

Reasons to root: Another team really liked by many Americans, Everton spent a ton of money this offseason but is probably still not in the same echelon as the top six teams listed. Everton has been the home to American stars Brian McBride and Tim Howard. The Toffees have a manager with three impressive Premier League seasons under his belt (Ronald Koeman), and there's a feel-good factor around the club that this could be the year Everton breaks into the top four.

Reasons to avoid: Everton signed well this offseason. It's also being linked to Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, which would help replace the loss of Lukaku to Manchester United. But dropping half a dozen new players onto the pitch doesn’t always pan out without time to jell. The addition of longtime Manchester United stalwart Wayne Rooney especially drew interest, but the all-time great in England is past his prime.

Which jersey should you get?: Leighton Baines. Ross Barkley’s future is always murky and Wayne Rooney is too obvious. Baines is a proven star for England and is known to rock killer sideburns, which will serve you well at hipster soccer bars.

Southampton forward Charlie Austin. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)


Home: Southampton

Primary colors: Red and white

Top players: Virgil van Dijk (defender), Ryan Bertrand (defender), Charlie Austin (forward)

Reasons to root: Southampton had a rough time last season when it came to scoring, but that seemed to be more of a fluke than anything. The Saints have consistently been at the upper levels of the middle-tier teams in the league. They have a great defense and added even more depth there with the signing of defender Jan Bednarek this summer.

Reasons to avoid: The Saints are in yet another transition season under Mauricio Pellegrino, their third new manager in four years. Some of their pieces have been picked off during the offseason. It looks like they could cash in on one of their best players now too, as center back Virgil van Dijk is halfway out the door with multiple teams in pursuit.

Which jersey should you get?: Fraser Forster. Just because it would be awesome to wear a goalkeeper jersey.

AFC Bournemouth forward Jermain Defoe. (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)


Home: Bournemouth, Dorset

Primary colors: Red and black

Top players: Jermain Defoe (forward), Joshua King (forward), Asmir Begovic (goalkeeper)

Reasons to root: Bournemouth was probably the biggest surprise in the table last year. The Cherries have been up in the Premier League for the last two years, despite having resources that are a fraction of others. They bring a wide-open game that amounts to a bunch of goals. Bournemouth has one of the best young managers in England in Eddie Howe, who has gotten the most out of this team, and the Cherries improved this offseason. Asmir Begovic is an upgrade in goal, Nathan Ake has signed permanently after being on loan, and Jermain Defoe was another excellent signing.

Reasons to avoid: The Cherries’ style of play is fun to watch in terms of scoring but that goes for both teams on the pitch, as it makes Bournemouth susceptible on the counter attack with a weakened defense.

Which jersey should you get?: Nathan Ake. But not his Bournmouth kit. Instead, get his Belgium national jersey. You’ll really look like you’re in the know.

West Bromwich Albion defender Johnny Evans. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)


Home: West Bromwich, West Midlands

Primary colors: Navy blue and white

Top players: Johnny Evans (defender), Ben Foster (goalkeeper)

Reasons to root: The Baggies are a tough team to play, as they typically dig in and then try to score on set pieces. They are usually big, strong and physical. West Brom likely will do enough to stay in the league, as this club has a history of playing just well enough to avoid relegation.

Reasons to avoid: Tony Pulis' 10th-place finish last season was disappointing, given where the Baggies had been just a couple of months earlier. Freed from the fear of relegation, they won just two points from a possible 27 in the season's close. They had such a low-key summer it’s hard to expect much better this year.

Which jersey should you get?: Nacer Chadli. You’ll make friends with some Tottenham fans who liked him when he played there.

West Ham defender Jose Fonte. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)


Home: East London

Primary colors: Blue and claret (deep purplish red)

Top players: Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (forward), Marko Arnautovic (forward), Jose Fonte (defender)

Reasons to root: Manager Slaven Bilic is looking to reassert his authority at West Ham, and he’s certainly purchased well this offseason. Marko Arnautovic was the marquee signing at £24m, and Mexican midfielder Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito, should bring more goals.

Reasons to avoid: West Ham struggled last year to find any momentum after moving into a new stadium. The field felt massive and didn’t suit the team, especially after losing one of its best players in a dispute. That didn’t stop the fans from living up to their reputation among the most vocal and unruly in the league. This is a big season for the Irons, who would prefer to be in the Europa League. If things don’t click, Bilic could be sacked.

Which jersey should you get?: Chicharito. The former Manchester United ace finally could shine as the main man as a Hammer. Get on board now.

Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


Home: Leicester

Primary colors: Royal blue and white

Top players: Jamie Vardy (forward), Kasper Schmeichel (goalkeeper), Riyad Mahrez (midfielder)

Reasons to root: The Foxes are coming off an interesting season after stunning the world by winning the EPL two years ago. They made a run in the Champions League but struggled in the first half of the season and looked like a relegation target. That said, they emerged and finished the season strongly after the surprise firing of manager Claudio Ranieri. This could be a decent season if players keep faith in their manager, Craig Shakespeare. Keeping Vardy and Schmeichel was big.

Reasons to avoid: Another crack at a title is unlikely, especially as the Foxes seem to be in the process of selling off a lot of the players they used to win it in 2015-16. Signing Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho was nice but there are rumors Mahrez is going to be sold and there is much work to be done to avoid another freefall like last year.

Which jersey should you get?: Kelechi Iheanacho. He will be a breakout star if he scores goals at the rate he did at Man City. And he has nacho in his name, so that’s good, right?

Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)


Home: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Primary colors: White and red

Top players: Geoff Cameron (defender), Kurt Zouma (defender), Xherdan Shaqiri (midfielder)

Reasons to root: While Stoke digressed last season, the club is not far removed from its best seasons and looks for another rise into the top 10. Josh Tymon and Zouma are good young acquisitions, and Darren Fletcher brings experience and composure to the midfield. But will the new additions be enough to fix some of the problems from last year? Geoff Cameron is an American defender that fans here might be interested in following with Stoke.

Reasons to avoid: Manager Mark Hughes could be on the hot seat. After three 50-plus-point, ninth-place finishes, his club managed only 44 points last year and finished a mediocre 13th among the lower middle of the table. The fans are beginning to make their displeasure known, and a slow start could be the catalyst for change.

Which jersey should you get?: Ryan Shawcross. He’s the captain and isn’t afraid to lay the smack down on opponents’ attackers.

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


Home: London

Primary colors: Red and blue

Top players: Wilfried Zaha (winger), Christian Benteke (forward), Jason Puncheon (midfielder)

Reasons to root: Some FC Cincinnati fans might already have adopted Crystal Palace as their team after the club visited Nippert Stadium for an international friendly and treated the first-year United Soccer League side with a lot of class and respect. Then-manager Alan Pardew, who was especially complimentary, was sacked in December after a poor start last season. New manager Frank de Boer and Crystal Palace should eventually be a great match. The Eagles were FA Cup runners up as recently as 2016.

Reasons to avoid: Palace surely will hit some bumps this season as the Eagles adjust from the prosaic, calculated counter-attacking of Pardew and his replacement Sam Allardyce to the more expressive methods of De Boer. The club seems a little unstable with so much change, though with time could see improvement by spring.

Which jersey should you get?: Christian Benteke. The Belgian has a knack for scoring goals. You can point your thumbs to his name on the back every time he does.

Swansea City forward Leroy Fer. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)


Home: Swansea, Wales

Primary colors: White and gold

Top players: Gylfi Sigurdsson (midfielder), Leroy Fer (midfielder), Fernando Llorente (forward)

Reasons to root: Swansea was the first EPL club to give an American a chance to manage when it hired Bob Bradley last year -- though the Swans hardly gave him a chance to turn things around. Paul Clement stepped in by January and secured their survival, claiming 26 points from 18 games, and now he has a chance to really do things his way. He’s added Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham and promising young Spaniard Roque Mesa. Swansea should be able to move up a few spots in the table this season.

Reasons to avoid: The front office’s swift changing of the guard with Bradley didn’t sit well with Americans rooting for his success. He was canned after just 85 days in charge, leaving questions to the higher-ups' judgment given Bradley was never really put in a position to succeed. Swansea could lose some big players for the season, too. Sigurdsson might leave for Everton, and Llorente had been rumored to be leaving for Chelsea earlier in the summer.

Which jersey should you get?: Fernando Llorente. The striker was rumored to leave, but he’s staying, so he should be a safe jersey to buy.

Burnley defender Phil Bardsley. (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)


Home: Burnley, Lancashire

Primary colors: Sky blue and claret (deep purplish red)

Top players: Jack Cork (midfielder), Charlie Taylor (defender)

Reasons to root: Burnley was never really in trouble last season, likely a credit to the management of Sean Dyche. He brought in some intriguing pieces this offseason, including underrated midfielder Jack Cork and defender Charlie Taylor, and that could help keep the Clarets from relegation once again.

Reasons to avoid: There is some speculation Dyche could move on this year if it seems he has taken Burnley as far as it can go. It’s hard to imagine this club doing much better than its 16th-place finish last year. Losing striker Andre Gray to Watford won't help.

Which jersey should you get?: Jack Cork. He's new, he's solid and Cork is a fun name.

Watford midfielder Tom Cleverley. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Home: Watford

Primary colors: Red, yellow and black

Top players: Troy Deeney (forward), Tom Cleverley (midfielder), Etienne Capoue (midfielder)

Reasons to root: The Hornets made improvements this summer, bringing in Marco Silva as manager and snatching up Will Hughes from Derby and Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea. They done a lot of shuffling from year to year and have found ways to survive.

Reasons to avoid: Watford’s lack of continuity will eventually catch up to it, and this could be the year the Hornets are left in the dust. They just barely survived the cut last year, finishing 17th with just two more wins than relegated Hull City.

Which jersey should you get?: Troy Deeney. Watford supporters love their captain. You should too.

Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)


Home: Newcastle

Primary colors: Black and white

Top players: DeAndre Yedlin (defender), Ayoze Perez (forward)

Reasons to root: Newcastle returns to the EPL after a two-year stint in the second-tier Championship division, which was a bit of a fluke. Now the Magpies are rejuvenated and refocused. Fans have taken well to former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez’s meticulous management, and better days should lie ahead. DeAndre Yedlin is another big reasons Americans might follow this team. The young U.S. national team star is fun to watch.

Reasons to avoid: The Magpies’ spending was modest in the offseason, leaving little reason to believe Newcastle will make any big jumps in the table, and there was some tension with Benitez last season when the promotion challenge didn’t seem to be going his way.

Which jersey should you get?: DeAndre Yedlin. The best part is you can also wear it if you watch or go to any U.S. men’s soccer team matches.

Huddersfield Town midfielder Aaron Mooy. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)


Home: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Primary colors: White and blue

Top players: Aaron Mooy (midfielder), Danny Williams (midfielder)

Reasons to root: Huddersfield has some winnable games on the schedule early on, and that could be enough to rack up some points right away and build confidence. Often, the early promise of a promoted team doesn’t last, but it was a surprise the Terriers even got here, so who knows? Williams is an American fans here can latch onto with this underdog type team.

Reasons to avoid: The Terriers have such a tight budget, it would be a shock if they have managed to put together a squad capable of keeping up in the EPL for too long.

Which jersey should you get?: Aaron Mooy. The Australian Socceroo is an exciting young player who was always going to be lost in the high-priced shuffle at Man City. He can shine here and you can support him when he does.

Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Anthony Knockaert. (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)


Home: Brighton and Hove, East Sussex

Primary colors: Blue and white

Top players: Anthony Knockaert (midfielder)

Reasons to root: Brighton is not a bad place to watch a game in England’s most populous seaside resort, and the Seagulls boast the Championship Player of the Year in Knockaert.

Reasons to avoid: Albion relies too much on Knockaert and there isn’t a lot of support. Teams coming to Brighton likely will enjoy more than just fresh sea air -- they’ll be expected to get three points to take home, too.

Which jersey should you get?: Any. You can get a nameless jersey and you'll still earn cred around even the most snobby soccer fans.

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