Consider, for a moment, being a Premier League fan anywhere in the world. At any moment, you might be blitzed out of your mind and not have a clue what's going on when Arsenal are playing Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby or Manchester United are taking on Liverpool at Anfield. Fortunately, science has shown that comparing clubs to other things improves the mental faculties of football fans.
That’s why exercises like this one can be helpful. If you’re watching the opening weekend of the Premier League and you're temporarily confused as to which team is associated with which culture and history, the following list -- a comparison between Premier League teams and Premier League teams -- can provide some vital context.
* * *
Arsenal are... THE GUNNERS. Both Arsenal and the Gunners routinely occupy the top of the table, although silverware is currently eluding both great sides. With similar styles of play and a pair of managers who divide opinion, the parallels between these two clubs are eerie.
Aston Villa are... THE VILLANS. Both young sides with plenty to prove, both Aston Villa and the Villans will be looking to avoid a repeat of the relegation battle they endured last year. Whether or not their star strikers endure a sophomore slump could be key in the destiny of these proud clubs.
Cardiff City are... THE BLUEBIRDS. Although there are some major differences -- red versus blue is one of the central battles in football and the dragon motif Cardiff have adopted would be likely to annoy if placed on the Bluebirds' crest -- both clubs share the same sort of DNA: Newly promoted and looking to spend their way out of the relegation places.
Chelsea are... THE BLUES. A pair of clubs funded by a secretive Russian, Chelsea and the Blues have been the most successful of England's clubs in Europe as of late. However, neither has seriously challenged for the league in years, and that's where fans of both expect them to be. Spanish sex symbol Juan Mata is under contract with both teams, which doesn't seem like it should be legal.
Crystal Palace are... THE EAGLES. Granted, one club is named after the legendary country rock band and the other a former London landmark, but looking beyond those differences and you'll see the glaring similarities: The slightly unhinged manager and the road straight back down to the Championship.
Everton are... THE TOFFEES. Both clubs are terrible at designing logos, but they're decent enough at football to have secured a regular place at the business end of the table. Managerial departures means that both have a lot to prove in the upcoming campaign, however, so supporters can brace themselves for a potentially bumpy ride.
Fulham are... THE COTTAGERS. No other clubs in England can claim to have Michael Jackson fandom down quite like Fulham and the Cottagers. Perhaps the cutest pair of stadium in the league.
Hull City Tigers are... HULL CITY AFC. Picture proud-but-eccentric Hull City AFC minus the sense of supporter involvement and a heaping, steamy dose of cynical corporate rebranding. Go on, do it. That looks a lot like the Hull City Tigers! They're greeeeat!
Liverpool are... THE REDS. Two titans of the game who've seen their influence steadily eroded over the past quarter of a century. Fond of history, but the former greats that populated these clubs would be turning in their grave to hear about their hopes of finishing in fourth place. A love-hate relationship with Uruguayans.
Manchester City are... CITY. Neither side appreciated the glory that was Mario Balotelli before it was too late, but with a metric tonne of money at their disposal, they're the safe pick to finish first and first in the league this year. Inordinately fond of error-prone goalkeepers with frosted tips.
Manchester United are... UNITED. Generally reckoned to be utterly insufferable thanks to their decades of success, but both should be more than a little worried that the departure of a legendary manager could mark the end of an era. Neither side has showed any interest in having a functioning midfield.
Newcastle United are... THE MAGPIES. The stain of glorious, glorious failure marks the history of both sides; the spectre of unpredictable owners and enormously eccentric directors of football mark the present. Have a knack for buying excellent players on the cheap the not being able to use them effectively.
Norwich City are... THE CANARIES. If either dies in a coalmine, you should escape as quickly as is possible.
Southampton are... THE SAINTS. Although both were surprise packages after promotion from the Championship last season, it's not at all clear that they've made enough progress to be considered mid-table just yet. You can tell the difference between these clubs and the others with red and white stripes because it looks like Southampton and the Saints are trying to play football.
Stoke City are... THE POTTERS. An acquired taste, both Stoke City and the Potters are considered amongst the most physical of the Premier League sides. They're looking to move away from the brutality, however, sacking their fiery, fearsome managers in favour of one who won't have either team doing very much of anything. There'll be fewer fouls, at least.
Sunderland are... THE BLACK CATS. Neither club is afraid to take a risk, and both have the distinction of having removed roving troll Martin O'Neill from the management of their teams. It's best if you avoid discussions of Italian politics around either side. though -- focus instead on their much-improved football.
Swansea City are... THE SWANS. Ballboy Michu ballboy Michu ballboy Michu ballboy Michu ballboy Michu ballboy how many Michus does it take to change a lightbulb? One thirtieth of an Edinson Cavani! Michu! Ed note: Write something about passing here.
Tottenham Hotspur are... SPURS. Each is on the very edge of a breakthrough, missing out on the Champions League places by the smallest of margins over the past two seasons. Tottenham and Spurs have reinforced heavily over the summer, and look like good bets to finally overcome their habit of falling just short. Both clubs make use of iconic chicken heraldry.
West Bromwich Albion are... THE BAGGIES. Solidly mid-table, but don't expect a repeat of last season's early heroics. Both the Albion and the Baggies are good, not great sides, reliant on their midfield but prone to long slumps. Neither will be a serious threat to challenge for the European places. Also the only two organisations in the world who know what a 'throstle' is.
West Ham United are... THE HAMMERS. Willing to employ the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, both West Ham and the Hammers are throwbacks to a simpler time. And neither is that bad at football despite it.