Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ranking Premier League kits

I've been waiting to do this for a long time, but I wanted to wait until the season started so we could see all the new kits. Here we go.

NOTE: Some people can't seem to figure it out, but the phrases in parentheses are in fact hyperlinks to teams' away and third kits, which are not pictured in this article.

20. Bolton Wanderers (blue away kit & navy third kit)

It's a step up from last year's strange-striped catastrophe, but Bolton's kits are still the worst in the league. Shady online gambling sites are all over European soccer jerseys today, but that doesn't make them any less horrendous. I respect that this is the only EPL kit currently made by Reebok, a company which happens to be from Bolton, but that doesn't excuse the giant Reebok logos on the shoulders (and shorts). For the most part, this is a soulless kit devoured by a betting site sponsor that doesn't even change its orange & gray color scheme to match the rest of the kit's white, blue & red scheme.

19. Blackpool (white away kit & blue third kit)

I appreciate kits that are made by companies other than Adidas, Nike, and Puma, but this Carbrini design is lacking. Once again, a gaudy sponsor with a color scheme that doesn't match the rest of the kit pukes all over this shirt. The shade of tangerine is a bit off, too. Blackpool has a great crest, but you can hardly distinguish it in this jersey. I'll cut them a bit of slack, though, since this is their first season ever in the Premier League.

18. Wigan Athletic (black away kit)

Another "good smaller manufacturer (Mi-Fit) but nevertheless a bad design" situation. Wigan is Mi-Fit's hometown team, which is nice. Most English clubs have a traditional, century-old design for their home shirt and are more adventurous with their away and third kits--a winning combination. But Wigan can't seem to decide what its "look" is, even for home kits. "I guess it's blue, with some white" is as specific as their identity gets. And the 188Bet sponsor is the same vomit that appears on Bolton's travesty of a shirt.

17. West Bromwich Albion (black away kit & red third kit)

Umbro is by far my favorite kit manufacturer. Clean, classic shirts. West Brom's shirts are fantastic. Great striping, a retro collar, and a striking black & white crest on the jet black away kit. So why is this uniform all the way down at #17? The sponsor. This is the worst ruining of a shirt by a sponsor in the entire league. Not only do the colors not work, but it's huge and obtrusive. I'm sure WBA management didn't enjoy not having a sponsor last season, but it meant their kits were vastly superior. Maybe this sponsor is going with the "it's so ugly they'll remember us" line of thinking.

16. Birmingham City (white away kit & red third kit)

Finally, a team with a well-integrated sponsor. The color scheme fits, and I've always thought the duality of the big F & C matches Birmingham's dual circle logo. Chinese manufacturer Xtep's big chevron design on the chest is pretty unique, but it still doesn't match the club's old Umbro designs. Otherwise, this is a pretty routine design with routine colors that don't stand out very much. Perhaps the fairly unremarkable uniform matches the fairly unremarkable club who wears it.

15. Newcastle United (blue away kit & white third kit)

Puma is the laziest of kit manufacturers. Newcastle's home strip is decent, but the club's classic black & white stripe pattern works despite Puma's design template, rather than because of it. Other than the home shirt, Puma completely phones it in with the away and third kits, which are variations of Italy World Cup jersey clones (and after Italy's World Cup, I don't know if teams want to draw that comparison). You'll notice this throughout the list with every single Puma creation. That irregular collar was nifty the first time we saw it, but not after 500 shirts with that collar.

14. Wolverhampton Wanderers (black away kit)

It's a shame the blue & red "sportingbet" sponsor colors ruin this one, because otherwise this Burrda kits stands out as a smart design. The shade of yellow/orange is unique and works well against the black details, and the collar is one-of-a-kind among Premier League teams. If the sponsor would change its colors, this shirt would definitely make the top ten--orange is harder to pull off than most other colors in clothing. And Wolves have a very un-English abstract wolf logo I highly enjoy--one that made a cameo in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. If the club avoids relegation, I look forward to what they've got next year.

13. Fulham (red away kit & green third kit)

Kappa's design for Fulham would be spectacular if it weren't for the horrendous sponsor. I sense this "sponsor ruining a shirt" theme keeps reappearing... perhaps clubs should take notice. Anyway, "FxPro" wouldn't be nearly so bad if it didn't feature the "Trade Forex like a pro!" subtitle underneath it. Fulham has also got the most boring crest in all of England. But the shirt itself is sharply designed, and the away and third kits are real head-turners. If only FxPro could clean itself up, these would be A+ kits.

12. Stoke City (blue away kit)

Stoke City's kits have no real issues, per se. The sponsor looks fine, the crest looks fine, the design is smart, there's no problem. But it's just so regular that it becomes incredibly boring. The Adidas template reminds me of MLS uniforms, but in a league with far more tradition and variation, you'd think Stoke could come up with something more creative. Their kits will always be compared to Sunderland's, both because they're "red & white stripes" and because alphabetically, Stoke and Sunderland are even right next to each other. Sunderland has really outdone itself this year, and Stoke stutters in comparison.

11. Aston Villa (black away kit & white third kit)

Fulham's horrendous "FxPro: Trade Forex Like a Pro!" sponsor reappears in Aston Villa's kit, but it looks a bit better here... at least in the home kit, where the colors have been changed to match Villa's iconic claret & blue. On the other two shirts, it's just a gaudy red. When will sponsors learn? Anyway, the checkerboard trim down the sides is a nice touch, and Villa always have their sweet crest ("PREPARED!"). But even if it's not as ugly as on the Fulham shirt, the FxPro sponsor definitely downgrades the whole kit a notch.

10. Tottenham Hotspur (blue away kit, navy third kit, white cup kit)

I already reviewed these kits in one of my first-ever blog posts. Well, the home shirt is classy, and the new sponsor looks fine (the sponsor on the cup kit may even look better), but as I mentioned with Newcastle, Puma is a lazy manufacturer. Other than the home kit--which has fantastic shorts, by the way--Puma really couldn't care less about the Uruguay-crossed-with-Italy away kit. The navy third kit isn't great, but I appreciate the lime green trim; this should be the away kit. But I always thought, "at least the home shirt is original"... until Tottenham played Swiss club BSC Young Boys in Champions League, and I looked up Young Boys' Puma away kit. Ugh. I'll be glad to see Spurs switch to Adidas next season.

9. West Ham United (white away kit)

Like Stoke being compared to Sunderland, West Ham's kit will always be compared to Aston Villa's. And the Hammers have a smart retro outfit this year, an improvement over last season's. Small manufacturer Macron, throwback trimmings, a superior away kit, and the badass castle-and-hammers logo have even pushed West Ham above Aston Villa on my list, which seems like blasphemy. Hopefully this forces Villa to push the envelope next season.

8. Blackburn Rovers (red away kit & white third kit)

The ugly black rectangle around the Crown Paints sponsor (which is much better integrated on Blackburn's away and third shirts) is really the only reason this is down at #8 on the list. I understand it's tough to think of a way to make the sponsor look good on two different colors at once, but come on. Umbro once again produce a sleek, simple uniform, and I'm a sucker for Blackburn's halved shirts; I wish we'd see more teams with halves like this. A neat retro collar and a crest which adds a subtle red detailing to the shirt carries over to the away and third shirts, which all work very well together as a coherent set of uniforms.

7. Everton (pink away kit)

A lot of people are going to disagree with my placement of Everton's Le Coq Sportif kits so high on the list. They all hate the hot pink away shirt. But I think it's the greatest decision the club could have made. Like I said before, home shirts are meant to be traditional, and Everton's all-blue definitely does the job in that department with a smart, clean design and an awesome sponsor. Away kits are meant to be a club's chance to experiment. The hot pink is eye-catching, a color you hardly see at all in professional sports. French manufacturer Le Coq (the most suggestive, most French company name of all time) outdid themselves, especially compared to last season's abysmal "V" shirts.

6. Liverpool (white away kit & black third kit)

It's a shame Liverpool had to part with their righteous long-term sponsor Carlsberg, but the new sponsor isn't horrible. And the shirt itself is better; look at the subtle diamond pattern throughout the shirt. The smart design is definitely reminiscent of Adidas' great MLS kits, with one big difference: Liverpool's away and third shirts are awesome. You'll also notice despite my constantly saying "I appreciate small manufacturers," most of the kits near the top of this list are from major companies. I guess the big guys have the money to create the smarter designs with better materials.

5. Chelsea (black away kit & green third kit)

Some fans feel iffy about Chelsea adding a little red trim to their mostly blue kit... oh no, not red! But it's a nice touch. And overall, once again Adidas delivers a solid kit with a fine sponsor. There's not really anything else one could ask for in a Chelsea home kit. The away strip is modern and Tron-like, with details I like to call Neon Orange Pinstripes of the Future. When I saw the "macaw and navy" third kit, the first thing that came to mind for me was actually Scottish club Hibernian's away shirt. But Chelsea's third has a nifty blue stripe down the middle, I guess to retain the Chelsea-ness of it all.

4. Manchester United (white away kit & black third kit)

After Man U's former sponsor, AIG, happened to go down the drain, they scrambled to find a new one, and Aon looks even better. I feel a bit dirty the Big Four clubs are all so high up on my list, but much like the biggest manufacturers, the biggest clubs are going to sell the most kits around the world, so I suppose they put much more stock into having a solid look. Nike's new kit with the old-style collar is very '70s and about as sleek as they come. This is the ultimate Man U kit. It's as if Nike's actually learned something from my beloved Umbro (who they bought out in 2008), and hopefully this carries over to more Nike kits in the next few years.

3. Sunderland (cream away kit)

Huh? Sunderland? Well, it's an impeccable Umbro design with a well-integrated sponsor and a clean striped look. Normally I'd say Stoke has the edge over Sunderland, since Stoke wears simple white shorts that are coherent with their look, while Sunderland adds the unnecessary third color of black. But it looks fantastic here, and as you can see, Sunderland has spanked their fellow red & white striped rivals this year. And I love that the away kit isn't quite white; it's more of a cream off-white, which looks excellent with the maroon detailing and matching sponsor colors to boot!

2. Arsenal (yellow away kit & blue third kit)

As a Tottenham supporter, it kills me to say this, but Arsenal have majestic uniforms. After last season's disappointing shirts, this year Nike has again taken a cue from Umbro and created an ageless uniform. If I were a Gunners fan, I'd just be bummed out soccer works on this "new jerseys every season" format, because almost by default, anything other than this shirt next year will be a downgrade. The simple red with white sleeves, the fantastic cuffs at the ends of the sleeves, the A+ sponsor... it's virtually perfect. The away kit is beautiful as well, with this same basic template applied to a unique yellow & maroon color scheme.

1. Manchester City (blue away kit & white third kit)

Delicious. The epitome of the classic Umbro design, unique colors, a great sponsor, an iconic crest. I'm incredibly jealous of Man City fans. I love the subtle same-color stripes on the shirt, as well as the retro cuffs on the sleeves. I suggest clicking on the jersey to my right so you can get a bigger view of the most gorgeous shirt in English soccer. With Etihad Airways on this shirt and Emirates on the Arsenal shirt, I guess the lesson is: "Get an airline from the United Arab Emirates to be your sponsor." The dark blue away kit is equally classy, and features spectacular hooped socks. The nifty "T" collar design, along with its color scheme, reminds me of Dark Samus from the Metroid Prime video game series of all things. The third shirt with the sash provides a nice completely different take on the Man City identity. I love that on this shirt, the sponsor was even willing to make their logo smaller to better accommodate the design. These are the best kits in England.


  1. Man City, disgusting.

    It doesn't matter, all of these pale in comparison to Bundesliga kits. Especially this year, goodness gracious.

  2. As a Poolfan since way back I should go for their kit, but an all red shirt does nothing for me. (loved their grey away kit in mid 80s`though) Blackburn would be at the top of my list. I can agree with you on the sponsorlogo, it do take away some of the beauty of the shirt, without it Blackburn would have an awesome kit.

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