The Community Shield has been played, preseason is finishing up and we’re days away from the English Premier League starting up again. This is also a nice precursor to the return of college football. Last year, you folks seemed to enjoy our look at the analogs between the ACC and the EPL, so we’re going to take a new look at it after the craziness that was the 2015-2016 EPL season.
In Alphabetical Order:
Boston College Eagles - Sunderland AFC
Sunderland somehow survived last year, just avoiding relegation. With the rest of Tyne and Wear heading down to the Championship, they're the only remaining team in the northeast reaches of the league. As such we’re pairing them with the Eagles. BC likes to hang out in their coastal home in New England and if the ACC had relegation, I’m pretty sure they would have been in the Championship after a few of these years.
Both Clemson and Arsenal shed the moniker of also-ran that we gave them last year and moved on up. Arsenal no longer won the Wenger Cup for a fourth place finish, instead sneaking into second at the last moment, and Clemson took home the Atlantic as well as the league, for the first time since 2011. Both look to follow it up with solid years in 2016-2017.
Both Duke and Everton at the very least will finish in the top half of the table this season (I’m assuming). Solid showings over years past have set the expectations high, with this year leaving some question marks as to where they’ll end up. They’re probably not winning the league, but they definitely won’t finish in the basement either. With Ronald Koeman being hired at Everton, they’ll be a different style than the high flying free flowing years past, but if anything we’ll see his quality shine through as it did at Southampton.
It seems like both Florida State and United are always talked about at the peak of their game. It also is a verified fact that both didn’t live up to the hype last year. Now that the VanGaal era is over on the Red side of Manchester and they’re in the capable hands of Jose Mourinho, I’m pained to say but they’re in for a resurgence.
As noted by the Total Soccer Show, this is their “Empire Strikes Back.” Leicester last year played the role of the plucky Rebel Alliance. United and FSU will be fighting this year to rule the galaxy with an iron fist again, or go down trying.
The Rambling Wreck has had a bit of a hiccup last year, going 3-9, coming off a year of winning the league and heading to a BCS Bowl. If I were to go with the comparison over the last three years, it’s Chelsea-esque, a team who won their division title, then middled around near the relegation zone for a chunk of the next year but is poised to come back.
Instead, we’re giving them Crystal Palace, a squad who avoided relegation last year and is poised to make some moves this season. While they lost Yannick Bolasie, they signed a few quality pieces including Steve Mandanda and Andros Townsend to fill in some gaps, moving them back to the mid-table.
Both squads are always near the top of the table, usually finishing just behind the traditional powers. While Louisville has to contend with Clemson and Florida State in the Coastal, Spurs pick and poke at the top four. They cracked it this year and will be playing Champions League football.
Like Louisville, Spurs probably won’t crack that Top 2 this year, but there’s a good chance they finish just outside and keep up the success they’ve been seeing over these past few years.
Miami Hurricanes = Manchester City F.C.
Historically, Miami has been a big spender, recently, Manchester City has been a big spender. Both teams had a period of real success in the past. City had a golden era in the late ‘60s ad early ‘70s, followed by a downturn and then a return to form.
Miami had “The U” era which culminated in amazing success as well. Unfortunately they also had a down period after that and have since climbed back. While they may not have rebounded in the way that City has, they’re still a very respectable program who can cause some problems.
North Carolina Tar Heels = Leicester City F.C.
Did anyone expect Leicester City to bring home the Premier League trophy last year? I can answer that a definitive no, unless you’re one of the 43 Guardian readers who did (Who I’m assuming all live in Leicester).
There were probably a few more that predicted UNC would win the Atlantic, but it couldn’t have been too many. Both rode some unprecedented success to the top on a weird year in their divisions. Both are question marks as to what they’ll do this year. We’ll soon see where they all stand.
North Carolina State Wolfpack = Southampton F.C.
NC State and Southampton both fall under the guise of “team that does enough to warrant the plaudits, but falls just short of the higher echelons.” Southampton under Ronald Koeman had some quality runs into the top 10. NC State is usually predicted in the top half of the Atlantic (or directly in the middle as this year).
Southampton holds their success over their neighboring club, Portsmouth, and NC State historically has lauded over their friends in the state of North Carolina on the gridiron.
We know, Notre Dame doesn’t play football in the ACC.. except for that weird preferred deal so we’re including them. They pair with Chelsea FC. The Pride of West London matches up with the Pride of South Bend for our comparisons.
Both have fervent, prideful fan bases and multiple titles to their name. Both also have a hatred for them by just about anyone that isn’t a fan. There aren’t too many people indifferent about CFC or UND. The polarizing nature of both clubs makes them natural bedfellows.
The Hammers are from East London, originally Thames Ironworks FC. It was the team of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company. While Pitt may not know shipbuilding, they happen to be from the Steel City. They have that mix of talent and work ethic that makes up for a talent gap and happens to give everyone in the league fits.
Syracuse Orange = Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough FC has a decently long and storied history, most all of it competitive at the highest level of English football. They’ve had years where they brought home hardware, had an era of top quality in the middle of the 20th century and a resurgence around the late 1990’s - 2000’s that ultimately ended and led to relegation
Syracuse has a long and storied history, sometimes competitive, sometimes not, with depths as low as Robinson and peaks as high as ‘59 and the 44s. If relegation were possible, Greg Robinson would have sank our ship and we may be down in League One at this point.
Right now both teams are making moves to significantly better themselves after fighting through that adversity. Syracuse is putting their hopes in the hands of new coach Dino Babers, while ‘Boro is making moves left and right in the transfer window, taking advantage of the new TV money to improve the squad. Who knows how this year will turn out for either?
What we said last year:
They're going to sit in the middle of the pack, cause some troubles for some and drop some points that they shouldn't. West Brom is a staple of the mid table in England. Virginia seems to toe the line each and every year between mediocre and bad, though even when "bad," there's always that chance the Hoos jump up and surprise someone.
This still holds serve.
Remember when VA Tech was challenging for league titles? Remember when Liverpool was challenging for hardware? They are both relatively recently successful programs and will let you know it. They will also consistently end up in the upper mid-table after telling you that.
Liverpool definitely had the higher highs, with the Champions League title in 2005 (One Night in Istanbul), but Virginia Polytechnic Institute had their run under Michael Vick, including their national title appearance in 1999.
Neither team has been able to achieve the highs that they hit during that stretch, but they’re always one to look out for.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons = Hull City F.C.
Wake Forest has been on a rough stretch in recent years. They’ve gone 3-9 the last two years and would have been in the bottom three of the ACC combined table each of the last three years. I’m not a doctor, but this tends to mean relegation.
Looking at them this year, it seems as though Hull City is the most analogous. Every other team has made a remote effort to sign some players and improve. Hull hasn’t even replaced their manager they fired and look primed to head back down. We’ll see how it pans out but it doesn’t look too promising.
Thoughts on the lists? Complaints? Concerns? Let us know what you thought of the matches in the comments.