The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. The English football season (2012/2013 season) will kick off today when Chelsea, the FA Cup Winners and Manchester City, The English Premier League champions lock horns in the traditional season opener, Community Shield at the Villa Park.
The FA Community Shield (formerly known as Charity Shield) is the annual match contested between the champions of the previous Premier league campaign and the holders of the FA Cup. It is traditionally held at the Wembley Stadium but this year’s edition will be hosted by Villa Park. If the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup then the league runners-up will provide the opposition. It is a glorified friendly match which proceeds from the game distributed to community-based initiatives and charities around the country. The current holders are Manchester United, who defeated Manchester City 3-2 last year.
This friendly affair precedes the start of the new EPL season; the EPL season normally starts a week after the Community Shield clash.
Here are some facts about the English Premier League:
25% of the current teams are situated in London. There are about 14 professional soccer teams based in London. Five of those teams – Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers – are currently in the EPL. Arsenal and Tottenham can never play home matches on the same day to avoid traffic jam.
Fans hate their American owners. Americans are major shareholders in Arsenal, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Sunderland. English fans do not hide their distaste at Americans’ control of their clubs.
Only four different clubs have won the league since 1994/1995 when Blackburn Rovers won the title. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and most recently, Manchester City have had their names inscribed on the trophy.
An English manager has never won the league. Sir Alex Ferguson has won the EPL a record 12 times but he is a scot. Fellow scot, Kenny Daglish also won it with Blackburn Rovers ion 1995. French professor, Arsene Wenger; the Portuguese special one, Jose Mourinho and Italian duo, Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelotti have all won the EPL title.
The league has been renamed four times. It started as FA Carling premiership in 1992. The name was changed to Barclaycard premiership in 2001; to Barclays Premiership in 2004 and to Barclay’s Premier League in 2007.
It is the most lucrative league in the world. According to Deloitte, EPL revenues topped $2.8billion in 2011/2012.
Just 7 clubs have participated in 20 EPL Seasons: Arsenal, Aston villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have never been relegated.
45 different clubs have spent at least one season in the EPL. Five of those survived just one season. 17 teams have 10 or more total seasons in the EPL.
Foreign players make up nearly two-thirds of the league. 635 are not British. 171 Africans (Nigera-27, Senegal-22, Cameroon-21, Ivory Coast-15, Ghana-14, S/Africa-12, Algeria-11, Morocco-11, Mali-8, Egypt-6, DR Congo-5, Guinea-4, Togo & Tunisia-3, Congo & Liberia -2, Cape Verde, Zambia, Angola, Benin, and Gabon-1) have played in the EPL so far.
Only 10 Africans have won the EPL title and they are: Christopher Wreh (Liberia), Lauren and Geremi (Cameroon), Kanu and Mikel (Nigeria) Essien (Ghana), Drogba, Kalou and Toure brothers (Ivory Coast).
The highest goalscorer in EPL history is Alan Shearer; he scored 260 goals for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. Andy Cole and Thierry Henry are second and third on the list with 189 & 176 goals respectively. Top three Africans on the list are: Didier Drogba (20th with 101goals), Yakubu Aiyegbeni (28th with 91goals and Emmanuel Adebayor (41st with 72goals).
A total of 248 hat tricks have been scored in the EPL. The first to score three times in one match was Eric Cantona for Leeds United against Tottenham in 1992. Efan Ekoku was the first to score four times, for Norwich City versus Everton also in 1992. Andy Cole was the first to score five times in the league for Manchester United against Nottingham Forest. 12 Africans have chipped in 3 or more goals in one match in the EPL. Yakubu Aiyegbeni leads the pack, having scored 3+ goals in one match four times in his EPL career. Others are Didier Drogba (thrice), Adebayor , Tony Yeboah and Benjani (twice); Kanu, Aruna Dindane, Efan Ekoku, Henri Camara, Salomon Kalou and Peter Odemwigie have all achieved this feat once.
What are your predictions for today’s clash and the incoming EPL season?