This appeared a couple of days ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The verb an American would normally use, of course, is “is.” My sense is that the Inquirer’s use of “are” is an aberration, even in coverage of English football.
The same day, John F. Burns had an article in the New York Times about the dodgy job prospects of football managers, and he did indeed use the singular verb form in reference to clubs, as in: “After several lean years, Arsenal is at the top of the Premier League standings, followed closely by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.”
However, Burns is English by birth and neither he nor the Times copyeditors could stop him from using another British custom, forgoing the definite article in referring to teams with plural nicknames, like Glasgow Rangers. An American would no sooner refer to “Yankees,” instead of “the Yankees,” than call a field “the pitch.”
Burns, referring to the Tottenham Hotspur club, wrote, “The admonition was not only for Spurs, who have fired eight managers in the past 12 years.”
Well played, sir.