The English Premier League kicked off this weekend, and more Americans than ever are expected to spend their weekend mornings glued to their TV sets.
Last season, a total of 115.5 million Americans watched live EPL matches, an increase of 114 percent from the previous season. More and more, soccer fans in the United States are becoming deeply devoted to English clubs, and the teams hope to capitalize. Nine Premier League clubs toured the United States during the summer, including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.
The Man United game against Real Madrid in Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium drew a U.S.-record crowd of 109,000. And Sun Life Stadium had 51,000 for the International Champions Cup final between Man U and Liverpool, even though it was a rainy night and the teams weren’t known until 48 hours before game time.
There are seven American players in the Premier League, including World Cup goalkeeper Tim Howard, so that also has helped drive viewership. Here’s a quick EPL season preview to get everyone caught up after a busy summer:
Top story lines
1. How will Liverpool make up for Luis Suarez’s 31 goals? The Uruguayan star was shipped off to Barcelona for $109 million after his World Cup biting incident, so the Reds have to figure out how to replace his scoring. It is safe to say nobody will come in and score 31 goals this season, but the combination of Daniel Sturridge, Rickie Lambert, Lazar Markovic, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana offers plenty of firepower.
2. Will Manchester City defend its title? Why not? It certainly has the roster to do it, and the addition of French defender Eliaquim Mangala should help.
3. Can Manchester United, under new coach Louis Van Gaal, find glory again after last season’s disaster? The Dutch World Cup coach faces a huge challenge after the Red Devils finished in seventh place last season, their worst finish in more than 20 years.
4. How will Chelsea do in the second season under Jose Mourinho? The signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were huge, and there’s plenty of reason for fans to expect better than last year’s third-place finish.
Top EPL transfers
Teams likeliest to be fighting relegation: Burnley, Hull City, Leicester, West Brom and West Ham.Closer to home: