Most websites would preview a Premier League season by looking at the potential form of the twenty teams, judging their signings, and discussing their prospects. Not this site. At Branch of Science, all we really give a crap about are the kits.
(And we wait until the season’s started to do it. You can put this down to us being slow and late if you like, but we’re going with the explanation that it’s best to get to see as many of them in action as possible over the opening weekend first before making a final judgement.)
Read on, then, for what we reckon about what doesn’t really stand up as a classic season for team kits, but does at least have a few choice efforts here and there…
The much-heralded switch to Puma ends up yielding… a pretty uninspiring home kit, to be honest. No real flourish to it, and the extra red patches on the arms manage to ruin the traditional Arsenal effect that really shouldn’t be so difficult to get right. The away kits both use all the right colours (except for the highlighter-yellow on the third), but with some odd line choices. The less said about Puma’s current goalkeeper template, however, the better.
Macron have been doing much better work this year than in times past (somewhat bafflingly, Bolton’s new kit is one of the best in the Championship), and that continues with Villa. You’ve got to love a pinstriped kit, after all, and these both successfully hark back to eras past. Which seems to be the main purpose of modern-day football shirts, let’s face it.
Burnley have done their trademark thing of confusing matters somewhat by introducing a third claret-adorned team to the top division, and their home kit is a fairly standard Puma template that looks a bit like a West Ham shirt. The all-black away is solid enough, if a little dull, while the strange gradient-effect silver third kit has so far only been glimpsed in drawings rather than out in the wild, so it’s hard to tell how it’ll actually turn out in practice.
Pretty textbook home and away efforts from Chelsea, while the third makes the ever-wise decision of being a blue change strip for a team that already plays in blue at home. Nice one. The goalkeeper strips debut Adidas’ new, apparently Spider-Man inspired, chest detail, and continue to be a rare example of a keeper choosing his team’s shirt colour (in this case, because Petr Cech likes to wear bright orange to trick strikers into aiming the ball at him. Apparently.)
More great shirts from Macron! I’m still not sure yellow trim works all that well on Palace’s kits (it’d be better with white), but otherwise there’s nothing wrong with either of these outfield kits, which are both classic and classy-looking. The colour shades on all three goalie kits are a bit wishy-washy, though.
There’s just something that feels right about Umbro making Everton’s kits, doesn’t there? There’s something less right about the company emblazoning their name on the shirts’ sleeves, but the new incarnation of the company are still more understated than many of their peers. Not sure about the Nike-style high round collar on the home kit, but otherwise these are all fairly decent, especially the purple-trimmed third kit. There’s not enough purple in football, is there?
Confusingly, Hull’s away kit looks far too much like a Wigan away kit, given that it shares a colour scheme and a sponsor with the one that won the FA Cup in 2013. Meanwhile, the third kit looks far too much like an Everton away kit. Did Umbro just get massively mixed up as to which team they were designing kits for? The home kit is terrific, though – gold and black stripes, as Hull’s shirts should be.
Oh, Leicester. Your home kit is lovely, one of the nicest in the league, but you’ve committed the cardinal sin of hubris that is putting gold lettering and numbering on it – otherwise known around these parts as “doing a Portsmouth”. Gold away kits are never a good thing, either. Nice third kit, though.
After putting out a stonking home kit for Liverpool last year, it could only be downhill for Warrior. It’s not terrible, but it’s nowhere near as good as the previous effort. The away and third, meanwhile, are surprisingly uncomical compared to the American company’s prior attempts. Yellow away kits are always good, even if the patterning is a little odd, and the third would be fantastic if only it weren’t for that oddly-placed red sash. The purple keeper kit is a nice shirt, but I’m not sure the colour distinguishes itself well enough from the red outfield shirts on the pitch.
Comfortably classy home kit for the champions – although come on, really, how long do we have to wait for them to go back to white shorts? – but they seem to have forgotten to choose any non-clashing away kit colours, which might present problems. I predict we could see a hastily-assembled white fourth kit introduced before the season’s end. And if I were a City fan I’d be miffed at having to use a nearly-a-year-out-of-date goalie template (and a pretty ugly one, at that), especially when their neighbours have got the newest one.
And that new Nike goalkeeper template is a pretty strong one, taking its place among an annoyingly good set of United kits that are only ruined by the stupid Chevrolet logo. And the fact that the third kit inexplicably has two different shades of blue on the front and back, in what is apparently a Europe-wide Nike trend for this season.
It’s difficult to truly screw up Newcastle’s kit, but Puma have managed it, with that awful “bib” motif completely throwing out the classic stripes. Shame, as the retro ’80s-style silver away kit is just lovely, and the halved third kit is… well, it’s interesting, put it that way.
Queens Park Rangers
Something feels wrong about the QPR home kit – I don’t know if it’s the thinness of the hoops, the lack of any coloured trim, or the massive white panel on the back, but it just seems a bit off. Lovely – if somewhat template-tastic – away kit, though, and while the all-white third kit seems a bit pointless, it’s hard to deny it’s smart.
Back to stripes, hurrah! It’s only a shame that this self-produced kit is lacking a manufacturer logo of some kind – the empty space makes it feel like a market-stall knock-off. Aside from that, this is easily one of the best home kits in the league this year, and the goalkeeper shirt is pretty terrific, too. The away kit, though, is a bit lower-mid-table-in-the-early-2000s.
Abandoning all the traits they established with Liverpool, Warrior have come up with a thoroughly sensible set of kits for their second team, Stoke. The sash-based away kit is lovely, and even the goalkeeper kits have a pretty solid feel to them. It’s… kind of baffling, actually.
A short while back, there were several striped Adidas template kits in the PL, so they were all a bit dull and repetitive. This time around, Sunderland have the only one, so it stands out a bit more. Great colour scheme, too, and the away kit is just lovely. Shame about that horrible yellow and purple goalkeeper kit, though, which you’ll be seeing a lot of this year due to it being Adidas’ default option.
Perfectly acceptable Adidas-template home kit (Swansea’s kits are generally at their best when it’s just white with black trim), utterly ruined by a massive sponsor logo that surely breaks some kind of regulations? Same goes for the away kit, which also suffers from feeling too much like it belongs to Blackburn.
Under Armour seem to be doing the opposite to their compatriots Warrior – having arrived in the PL with a terrific set of Spurs kits, they’ve been getting gradually worse by the year. Only the yellow third kit, with its bumblebee-ish shoulder stripes, really looks good – these are otherwise pretty uninspired, and the home shirt just doesn’t work at all.
West Bromwich Albion
What this is: a quite nice football shirt. What this is not: a West Brom shirt. When your kit announcement includes a disclaimer that you’ll be bringing the stripes back next year, you can tell you probably misjudged the situation in the first place.
West Ham United
Best for last. Adidas and West Ham keep doing gorgeous, 80s-inspired kits of late, and they keep bring brilliant. Not sure about purple as an alternative colour for a claret team, but there you go. Actually, when I said earlier that there wasn’t enough purple in football… there’s loads of it this year, isn’t there?
BoS’ Top Ten:
10. Stoke (away)
9. Chelsea (away)
8. Leicester (home)
7. Everton (third)
6. Crystal Palace (home)
5. Newcastle (away)
4. Sunderland (away)
3. Aston Villa (home)
2. Southampton (home)
1. West Ham (home)