This has been one of the most exciting starts to a Premier League season in recent memory. The title race is wide open and who knows how far the relegation battle goes up? The top teams are getting weaker but the smaller clubs are having a go – and it has been great to watch. We give you 10 surprises from the Premier League….. so far.
The Promoted Clubs
To just put Blakpool in this category would be extremely unfair on Newcastle and West Brom. All three clubs have equipped themselves fantastically well in the Premier League, and have played an attacking brand of football that some of the more established clubs could learn from. All three look like Premier League sides – and have taught a few lessons along the way. Newcastle thrashed both Aston Vill and Sunderland, West Brom thrashed Everton at Goodison Park and Blackpool hammered Wigan at the DW Stadium. It is their attitudes that have been so refreshing this season, and long may it continue. Further more, none of them look like doing a Hull City. Well played Blackpool, Newcastle and West Brom.
The best player in the Premier League this season. Where did it come from? Omitted from the French World Cup squad – granted because of an injury, but they gambled on Frank Ribery. At Arsenal, he always look average. He showed a fine touch but without ever dominating games. This season that has all changed. He looks comfortable playing from the right of Marouane Chamakh and has scored some sublime goals. Everyone knew how good he was but it is the way it has all come together this half of the season for Nasri that is surprising.
Oh dear, what has happened here? Last season they had grit, determination and a focus to stay up. They did – with a few games to spare. This season they have been hopeless. There team has actually been improved with the signing of Steven Fletcher – but they have got worse. They look a team destined for relegation and have fallen into that second season trap. Wolves have the quality to stay up but they need to improve dramatically to be a Premier League team next season.
Owen Coyle is pretty good isn’t he. After Gary Megson I guess the only way was up, but the way they have gone about it has been so impressive. They have a new expansive way of playing, getting the ball on the floor and using players like Martin Petrov. They still go long to Kevin Davies but in a more measured and considered way than before. Look what Owen Coyle has done with Johan Elmander. The Swede now looks like a footballer again – and a pretty good one. His goal against Wolves was sublime – a goal Lionel Messi would have been proud of. Bolton are sitting in fifth and look set to challenge for Europe come the end of the season.
Arsenal’s Home Record
The one thing Arsenal will always have is a superb home record. The Emirates has become a fortress over the last couple of years, but this season teams are starting to get at Arsenal. Arsenal have lot twice to promoted clubs and have made hard work of Bolton. It has to be worrying for Arsenal fans because they have the best away record. If Arsenal could be consistent they would be clear in the Premier League. They haven’t played any of the top teams at the Emirates, and if their form at home continues to be shaky, they could loose out on the Premier League title this season.
Wayne Rooney’s Attitude
Now cast your minds back to 19 October. Wayne Rooney announced that Manchester United had no ambition and wanted to leave the club. Old Trafford was plunged into chaos – all for money. Many Manchester United fans never thought Rooney was one of them. We were told by his PR guru – Andy Gray – that he loved the game, and would play whenever he could. How wrong we were. Rooney and Peter Stretford created a saga to get more money for themselves. Better we know his true colours now I guess.
What has happened to him? For the past couple of season he has been by far the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, and if he any other nationality, Reina would have at least 50 international caps. This season has been strange for the Spaniard. He made a howler on the first day of the season against Arsenal and hasn’t fully recovered. The keeper has terrible against Argentina and his club form has been dodgy. Is transfer speculation getting to Reina or is it just a run of bad form?
Ray Wilkins’ Departure
What a fire storm this has caused. Who is in control at Chelsea, and do they trust Carlo Ancelotti? Strange that they wouldn’t after winning the double last season – but that’s Chelsea for you. Ray Wilkins by all accounts did a sterling job when Ancelotti first arrived. He changed the whole set up of training and the club with the Italian. He was a popular figure with the players and fans, and was doing a good job. Fired? Something is wrong. Chelsea have been awful since, and Ancelotti stands a lonely figure on the sidelines. Will the Wilkins departure be the catalyst for big change at Stamford Bridge.
Chris Hughton’s Sacking
What on earth are Newcastle thinking? A man that saved the club from imploding on itself, won the Championship – the first time of asking and masterminded victories over Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sunderland and Newcastle sit 12th in the table. If you can get sacked for that, you can get sacked for anything. Chris Hughton is one of the nice guys but most of all he is a very good manager. The club love him, the players love him and the fans adore what he did for their club. Newcastle should be ashamed.
Tottenham in Europe
How refreshing this has been. Just when the group stages needed a change, Tottenham have come along. Hats off to Harry Redknapp and his players because when the draw was made many people were concerned not only for Tottenham but for England’s co-efficient ranking. They scored eighteen goals in a group that featured the European Champions, German Champions and Dutch Champions. To win the group is extra special and is testament to this group of players. How far can Tottenham go? By finishing top – who knows?
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