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News Important questions to ask yourself as English Premier League kicks off

News EPL 2015/2016 - Three days after the end of the last campaign, the English Premier League begins its new season on Saturday. Or maybe it just feels that way.

Given how relentless the soccer schedule can seem, you’ll be forgiven for having checked out for a while. The Premiership claims a total global TV audience of 4.7 billion. All those people have to go to work some time.

While you’ve been doing your small part to boost the fundamentals of the world economy, British soccer teams have been rendering your work moot. They spend just because they can, on players who may or may not be worth it. Who knows? And who cares? If these people wanted to stay rich, they’d short oil. They bought a soccer club because it’s a more efficient way to rid themselves of pesky, loose cash than stacking it in a big pile in the driveway and burning it.

So who’s done the best job of spending themselves penurious? And what’s going to happen once all those tiny men worth more many times their weight in gold – quite literally – begin kicking each other in anger? That depends on your rooting interest, which I’m going to guess is wrong.

Years ago, you picked a team because you were born in the city it plays in, or like the colour red, or believe very strongly in the quality of English-bred players, or some other terrible reason. Now, your suffering begins.

In order to limit the emotional damage, ask yourself these important questions:

Is your favourite team Chelsea?

It isn’t? Bad news, my friend. It’s going to be a long year. Chelsea is the Honda Civic of professional sports – built to succeed, though not necessarily in style. While all the other top clubs were falling over themselves trying to find some supremely talented teenager from Equatorial Guinea or Kyrgyzstan everyone had just forgotten to scout, Chelsea gently fleshed out a squad designed to weather the high-speed battery of the Premiership. It fields the best player (Eden Hazard), the best striker (Diego Costa), the most organized midfield and the tightest defence in the league. Chelsea is going to win again. Accept it. More important, plan your fantasy team accordingly.

Do you think Manchester United has finally figured it out?

You do? This is really going poorly for you. After several years adrift, the sentimental favourites of domestic day drinkers and foreign bandwagon jumpers is finally starting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Key word: “starting.” With the additions of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and a few other names that will give play-by-play announcers panic attacks, United’s midfield now contains many world-class competitors. About 40 of them, in fact, which could present a scheduling problem. Man United also managed to rid itself of perhaps its most talented player – Angel di Maria – at a $30-million loss. Why do that? See above. Despite best/worst efforts, United will be better, but still a ways from best.

Arsenal has a chance, right?

Of course it does. Also, you have a chance of jumping out of a plane minus a parachute and surviving. Maybe you’ll land in a swamp, or a haystack, or a farmers’ market that only sells down pillows. That’s the sort of chance Arsenal has. After losing to Arsenal in the Community Shield last week, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho whined that Arsenal “left their philosophy in the dressing room.” Meaning it played with defensive stability in mind, rather than its usual everyone-to-the-front-of-the-room recklessness. That won’t last. Personally, I prefer Arsenal as a bunch of heedless artistes. It gives us six months to enjoy Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger sitting morosely on the sidelines, slowly twisting himself into a human Gordian knot.

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08/08/2015 08:15