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Arsenal Prime: The EPL will save the Year Without Football

July 29, 2010

Aside from hockey and college hoops, my main alternative to football on Saturdays and Sundays will be international soccer.  I’ve had a moderate interest in the sport ever since the 1994 World Cup, building to an escalating timeline of involvement:

1995: Watched an MLS game on Telemundo; an early contest between San Jose and the Dallas BURN decided in a shootout.

1996-1997: Junior varsity in high school

2002: Adopted Arsenal as preferred Premier League club

2003: Attended CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader at Gillette Stadium featuring Honduras/El Salvador and U.S./Cuba

2004: Joined Hattrick.org, an international soccer management simulator

2008: Entered membership of myfootballclub.co.uk, an ill-fated crowdsource purchase of a British fifth-division team, Ebbsfleet United.

2008-2009: Sold ads of Mexican Soccer League for local Spanish-language television station

2010 was a bit of an off-year until the World Cup, but the English Premier League is approaching.  The season overlaps and stretches beyond the NFL calendar, launching in mid-August and concluding with the Champions League final on May 28th.

The Year Without Football project provides a chance to dive head-first into soccer in England this season; I went with Arsenal back in 2002 because of their youthful exhuberance and explosive attacking style.  I got caught up in reading “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby and drew an added connection to the team.  Their budding rivalry with the Yankee-like Manchester United only confirmed the connection.

This year’s edition isn’t expected to dominate the top of the table but they should battle for a 3rd spot versus an aging and fractured Liverpool FC.  Keep an eye out for Newcastle, back in the top flight for the first time since their title sponsor, Northern Rock, failed as the first shoe to drop in the economic crisis, sending them down for a bit.  Starting August 14th, I will be ruining my Saturday and Sunday mornings to direct some much-needed attention to a sport that has been patiently waiting.

DR

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