Trietley: Picking a favorite Premier League team

By Greg Trietley

I know nothing about the English Premier League, and I don’t pretend to.

But there’s no… I know nothing about the English Premier League, and I don’t pretend to.

But there’s no denying that the league’s popularity in America has grown to the point where I, as someone who can name maybe 10 players, feel like an outsider.

So I need to adopt a team.

I have a list of the 20 EPL teams in alphabetical order, along with a few historical facts about each. I have this season’s standings and rosters, although I want to avoid selecting a team based solely off the appeal of its current players, since those change all the time (presumably — I don’t know for sure).

The alphabet seeds my bracket. The first matchup: Arsenal v. Wolverhampton.

From what I understand, most Americans are fans of Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United, as these franchises have hefty payrolls and, therefore, win more often than not. The three teams combine for 57 wins, 16 draws and 15 losses this season.

These teams seem like the Yankees and Red Sox of soccer. The fan bases bicker — “Chelsea is a bunch of divers!” or “Arsenal’s scarves look stupid!” — and everyone else quietly pulls for the field. I refuse bandwagon success: Give me the wonderfully named Wolverhampton over Arsenal.

At this point, I should reiterate that I know next to nothing about the EPL. If you do follow the league, laugh at my ignorance. If you don’t, welcome to the club, where we will also watch “The Walking Dead” for the first time soon and read “The Hunger Games” trilogy next summer.

In my next first-round battle, Aston Villa, which sounds like a car I’d like to drive, defeats Wigan, possibly the fifth Hogwarts house.

My third matchup presents a problem: I like the ring of both “Blackburn” and “West Bromwich.” Therefore, I’m abandoning my alphabetical bracket and selecting both the Rovers and the Albion.

The other four teams I want in my Elite Eight with Aston Villa, Blackburn, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton are the Queens Park Rangers, Everton, the Bolton Wanderers and the Tottenham Hotspur (Hotspur? Early favorite).

Stoke City, which first played in the top division in 1888 yet has zero division titles, reminds me of the Cubs or Pirates and tempts me as an option — mainly because the team is called freaking Stoke City. Still, I hold out hope that Michael Bolton, either the singer or “Office Space” character, plays some role in the Bolton Wanderers franchise.

Time for arbitrary seeding: Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich, Blackburn vs. Bolton, Tottenham vs. Wolverhampton and Everton vs. Queens Park.

My EPL knowledge largely stems from the movie “The Damned United,” which focuses on Leeds United and Derby County in the early 1970s. Both these franchises, though, have since been relegated to the Football League Championship, which must devastate actor Michael Sheen.

Although I pull for the underdog, I have little patience for relegated clubs to climb back to relevance, and so I have to abandon Leeds and, as they pronounce it in the movie, “Daarby” County.

Eighteenth-place Blackburn and 16th-place Bolton both hover near relegation this season, so let’s just eliminate them both now. Wolverhampton, likewise, has lost 19 of 31 “matches” (I know that term), so give me Tottenham Hotspur.

I think it’s obvious that Aston Villa defeats West Bromwich. Come on, we all know East Bromwich — heck, even South Bromwich — is superior. Also advance Everton, which is perfectly mediocre at 32 goals for, 32 goals against. I can support that, especially as the Queens Park Rangers remind me of pricey New York City, and I don’t plan on investing much in this sports relationship.

Down to three now: Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham “love that name” Hotspur. Give Tottenham a bye because, you know, Hotspur.

Everton has played 109 seasons in the top division, more than any other current Premier League member. Yet the club hasn’t won a division title since 1987. The club, nicknamed the Toffees, the Blues, the School of Science or the People’s Club, finished seventh last year and resides in seventh again currently.

This is the consistent mediocrity and, I can assume, heartbreak that I can get behind. Give me Everton over Aston Villa, and give me the School of Science over Tottenham, too.

Let’s go Everton! Win that championship!