Game Changers Blog: Premier League Primer Entry #1
Brian Parker here from the EA SPORTS Game Changers program with the first of five entries detailing the teams of the English Premier League in association football. This series is meant to provide American fans of the sport with a quick picture of each of the 20 teams who will be competing for the league championship in the 2012-2013 EPL season. For this entry, we will be talking about Manchester City, Liverpool, Norwich City, and newly-promoted Reading.
Manchester City – 2011-2012 Finish: 1st in Premier League
On the final day of the 2011-2012 Premier League season, all Manchester City had to do was stay even in points with cross-town rival Manchester United and they would win their first league championship in over 40 years. When The Blues fell behind Queens Park Rangers and United took a lead over Sunderland, Manchester City was forced to come up with incredible heroics from the foot of Sergio Agüero in the 94th minute of the match to secure a 3-2 win and the championship. In recent years, City has tried to shore up their on-field talent through high profile signings, and these moves finally came to fruition on May 13th, 2012.
With their first Premier League championship, however, Manchester City still remains 11 titles behind rival United. This year’s squad—sporting players like goalkeeper Joe Hart (a co-cover athlete for FIFA 13 in the United Kingdom), defender and captain Vincent Kompany, midfielder Samir Nasri and David Silva (the latter fresh off a UEFA Euro 2012 championship with Spain), and forwards Edin Džeko and Mario Balotelli in addition to Agüero—will be looking to prove that last season was not an aberration and instead signals an earnest rivalry between the Manchester squads atop the EPL.
Liverpool – 2011-2012 Finish: 8th in Premier League
Liverpool holds the second-most championships of English teams in association football, trailing only Manchester United; quite impressive, considering that The Reds have yet to take a Premier League championship since the league’s formal inception in 1992. The club also has ties to sports in the United States—as they are owned by the Fenway Sports Group which also owns the Boston Red Sox and even played an exhibition against Italian squad Roma at Fenway Park this past July—as well as ties to EA, whose Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore counts himself amongst those supporters who sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” whether they’re at the match in Anfield or watching from half a world away.
Captained by midfielder Steven Gerrard, the current Liverpool squad also boasts Argentine forward Luis Suárez—who led the team in scoring with 17 goals last season—as well as forward Andy Carroll, who matched Gerrard in accounting for 9 Liverpool goals in the 2011-2012 campaign.
Norwich City – 2011-2012 Finish: 12th in Premier League
Founded 110 years ago, The Canaries of the Norwich City Football Club finished just outside the top half of the Premier League one year ago, sitting at 47 points along with 10th-place West Bromwich Albion and 11th-place Swansea City but trailing both of those squads in wins and goal differential. Though the finish doesn’t look too impressive by itself, the fact that it was preceded by the club’s promotion in consecutive seasons to find itself back in the Premier League after being relegated to Football League One (two levels below the Premier League) says a lot about positive changes in the fortune of this team.
Forward and captain Grant Holt and his 17 goals from a season ago lead Norwich City F.C. as the 2012-2013 season gets underway; the Englishman has been the club’s player of the year for the past three seasons going back to 2010. While Holt returns, manager Paul Lambert—who had served in that role since August of 2009—was replaced by Chris Hughton on June 6th, 2012, a former player for Tottenham Hotspur who served as the Spurs’ assistant manager from 1998 through 2008.
Reading – 2011-2012 Finish: 1st in Football League Championship
With 89 points in the Football League Championship a year ago, Reading eked out a 1-point lead over Southampton to take the league championship and earn automatic promotion to the Premier League for the 2012-2013 season. The Royals earned a draw in their first action back in the Premier League against Stoke City thanks to a 90th-minute penalty before keeping pace with reigning UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in a controversial 4-2 loss to begin their return to the top league of English association football.
Forward Adam le Fondre and midfielder Danny Guthrie have both scored on the season so far, while captain Jobi McAnuff—whose 11 assists were good for fifth in the Football League Championship a season ago—also contributes to a squad looking to make this promotion more than a single year’s stay at the top of the sport.
Are you a supporter of any of these teams, FIFA fans? Let us know who you back in the comments below, and come back soon for the next installment of the Premier League Primer.