Who’s got the best kit in the Premier League this season? Calum Henderson looks at all 51 shirts on offer and ranks the clubs on the strength of their designs.
Probably the most exciting thing about the Premier League pre-season isn’t the tours of Malaysia and the USA, the Emirates Cup or even the multi-million pound transfers. It’s the slow, teasing release of all the new season kits.
Just as everyone hopes against hope that this will be the season their club wins the league, or the FA Cup, or simply avoids relegation, so too they hope that their club will come out with a stylish, respectable kit. You only need look at the levels of schadenfreude when Warrior unveiled the 2013-14 Liverpool kit to see how much football fans fear the embarrassment of bad design. (I actually maintain that this was a bloody cool kit).
But amidst this hysteria of the opening weeks of the season and the closing of the transfer window, there is little time to sit down and comprehensively rank all the teams’ shirts from best to worst. That time comes later. That time is now.
Brand: Umbro Sponsor: Chang (Beer) Price: £52 ($126)
This is Everton’s season – if not to win or even qualify for anything, then at least to have the nicest kit in the league. They get there on the strength of the spectacular away and third kits, but the simple home kit with its false v-neck is a grower too, and the integration of the sponsor’s logo is perfect across all three.
2. Norwich City
Brand: Errea Sponsor: Aviva (Insurance) Price: £48 ($116)
The Canaries are cursed with what is probably the worst colour scheme in sports. Pity poor Green Bay, Australia, Central Districts… probably the only team to have ever made green and yellow look cool was the Seattle Supersonics. This kit from underrated Italian manufacturer Errea shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. The third kit is a masterpiece, arguably the best in the whole league.
3. Tottenham Hotspur
Brand: Under Armour Sponsor: AIA (Insurance) Price: £55 ($133)
Under Armour are a relative newcomer to the football kit game, and on the strength of this year’s Spurs designs they are certainly one to watch. Everyone loves a sash, but it’s rare to see one on a home shirt – that kind of daring should be applauded. The away kit has a vague 90s software, box of floppy discs vibe, but the deep purple third kit is top notch.
Brand: adidas Sponsor: Yokohama Tyres (Automotive) Price: £57 ($138)
It’s always painful to concede that Chelsea have quite a nice kit. This year’s design is clean and stylish – if you took the adidas logo off you’d probably guess it was Umbro, which is probably the highest praise you can give a kit manufacturer. The Yokohama Tyres sponsorship does make it look a bit like something a middle-aged bloke who lives and breathes motorsport would wear, but there’s probably a significant crossover there.
Brand: Puma Sponsor: Emirates (Airline) Price: £55 ($133)
Puma kits are notoriously ugly. Apart from those buzzy African national designs they did a few years ago, their shirts usually look like the kind of cheap and ill-fitting knock-offs you’d find down the flea market. But this year’s Arsenal kit is a massive step in the right direction. Of note is the away kit – does it hint at the possibility of a 90s revival in football shirt design? Now there’s something which would be exciting to see, and which would inevitably go horribly wrong.
6. Stoke City
Brand: New Balance Sponsor: bet365 (Online gambling) Price: £45 ($109)
It’s hard to make red and white vertical stripes look proper smart, but New Balance have managed to pull it off here. The football kit newcomers have done an admirable job all round – a black away kit rarely stands out, but the green contrast in the collar and sash makes this one very fetching. New Balance are looking like a welcome addition to the kit manufacturing game, taking on Umbro in the clean, classic design stakes.
7. West Ham United
Brand: Umbro Sponsor: betway (Online gambling) Price: £50 ($121)
This home kit looks like one of those ‘classic era’ shirts you might get with “England 66” or “Bobby Robson” or something on the back – perfect in its simplicity. The away shirt offers a nice inversion of the home kit’s colour scheme, while the third kit looks like it was designed specifically so Slaven Bilic would have something nice to wear to the gym.
8. Manchester City
Brand: Nike Sponsor: Etihad (Airline) Price: £59 ($143)
The only Nike kit in the Premier League, and Man City’s is a mixed bag. The home kit is standard, with a nice minimalist collar, and the away kit is another rare example of an eye-catching black shirt. But the fluoro third kit is a mistake – obviously aiming for ‘Barcelona’, but ending up looking more ‘training pitch’.
Brand: New Balance Sponsor: Standard Chartered (Banking and financial) Price: £50 ($121)
Liverpool are New Balance’s flagship football contract and they’ve perhaps understandably taken a very conservative approach to this year’s kits. The clean designs will no doubt come as a welcome relief to some Merseysiders after the weird and wonderful Warrior kits of the last couple of years, but hopefully New Balance take a few more risks going forward.
10. Newcastle United
Brand: Puma Sponsor: Wonga.com (Payday loans) Price: £48 ($116)
Another unexpectedly strong showing by Puma. Newcastle’s kit ranking is hamstrung by the awful shirt sponsor – nobody should have to walk around with ‘Wonga.com’ on their chest – and the cricket stump vertical stripes on the home shirt are slightly questionable, but the PSG-cribbing third kit is very nicely done.
11. Crystal Palace
Brand: Macron Sponsor: Mansion (Online gambling) Price: £45 ($109)
Crystal Palace could well be looking at a top-5 ranking for this tidy Macron kit were it not for their dreadful sponsor’s logo. It does at least try to incorporate the club’s colours, but Jesus. They’ve absolutely nailed vertical stripes in the home kit, and the away shirt – what do we call that, a straight sash? – is very elegant.
12. Aston Villa
Brand: Macron Sponsor: Intuit Quickbooks (Accounting software) Price: £50 ($121)
Full marks to Villa for being the only Premier League club to be sponsored by accounting software, possibly ever. Macron have done a serviceable if unremarkable job with the timeless home kit. The away shirt has a superbly stylish collar, but isn’t that the exact shade of yellow the refs wear? Mark Clattenburg would look amazing in it.
13. Manchester United
Brand: adidas Sponsor: Chevrolet (Automotive) Price: £59 ($143)
Adidas have what remains probably the most popular football club in the world on their books, and have delivered probably this year’s most boring kit – it looks like Louis Van Gaal has just gone to an adidas wholesaler and ordered 30 of their standard ‘red’ and ‘white’ kits for the season, then taken them down to a screenprinter with a jpeg of the Chevrolet logo he lifted straight off their website.
14. Swansea City
Brand: adidas Sponsor: GWFX (Online gambling) Price: £45 ($109)
When the Swans first surfaced in the Premier League their white kits with bronze detailing seemed exciting, glamorous, almost like something a cool rapper might design. Now they’re starting to seem a little tired, and are certainly not helped by the introduction of that hideous and obtrusive sponsor’s logo. The away kit is structurally fine, but that shade of green is not going to age well and probably ought to be banned from all sports uniforms.
15. AFC Bournemouth
Brand: JD Sports Sponsor: Mansion (Online gambling) Price: £40 ($97)
Everything about AFC Bournemouth – from their dinky stadium down to the 80s-modern club badges on their shirts – feels like it’s from a Lego football set. You’ve got to love the Premier League newcomers and their weird JD Sports kit. The high, strangling collar makes the away kit look like a rash vest but it’s the least expensive kit in the rankings, and full credit to them for going the whole nine yards and making a third kit in shocking pink.
Brand: adidas Sponsor: Veho (Consumer electronics) Price: £50 ($121)
That shade of lime green again. Is this all New Zealand’s fault? Did we not send a strong enough message to adidas when they tried to make the Highlanders wear it? Listen – it’s not OK. Get rid of it. The home shirt is fine, but it’s almost identical to my friend’s indoor football team uniform, only The Nutmegs don’t have an unattractive sponsor’s logo on theirs.
17. West Bromwich Albion
Brand: adidas Sponsor: TLCBET (Online gambling) Price: £50 ($121)
Interesting approach with the away kit here, ditching the club badge for a heritage club monogram on a rich, pinstriped burgundy. It’d be an incredibly handsome shirt were it not for the big ugly ‘TLCBET’ logo so completely out of step with the rest of the design. So close yet so far from being something anyone should happily pay to wear. The home kit, like Southampton’s, inexplicably has the adidas logo in the middle of the chest, making the whole thing woefully lopsided.
18. Leicester City
Brand: Puma Sponsor: King Power (Duty free) Price: £45 ($109)
Leicester City’s home kit illustrates the classic ugly Puma aesthetic nicely. What is going with that collar? Dreadful. The away kit looks like something the referees would have worn on Gladiators circa its 1994 heyday – perhaps an indication of the dark path things could take if a 90s kit revival were to eventuate.
Brand: Puma Sponsor: 138.com (Online gambling) Price: £45 ($109)
What a sad sight that away shirt is. It looks like something only a manager should wear, and only the most up-for-it, tracksuit-pants-wearing Martin O’Neill-style manager at that. It feels unfair to pick on one out of the plethora of hideous shirt sponsor logos on offer these days, but ‘138.com’ must be the worst.
Brand: adidas Sponsor: dafabet (Online gambling) Price: £50 ($121)
A depressing kit for a club who look to have a depressing relegation-bound season ahead of them. Horrible sponsor’s logo, stock adidas design and an unnecessary waistband. Green is probably the worst kit colour and they have three different shades of it on their away shirt. Really quite grim.