Stoke, Everton, Palace… The three Prem dark horses this season…

The English Premier League is not the greatest league in the world.

We can argue over whether it is the most exciting, the most wonderful, or whatever you want to call it, but it’s fair to say there is the greatest potential for upset.

Leicester City proved it in the freakiest of freaky seasons last time around and, perhaps due to weaknesses in the stronger sides, there is always a chance for the underdog to do something extraordinary.

It might not happen every year, but we will be gifted a surprise package most seasons. Whether Ipswich Town reach the European spots, Leicester win the league or Liverpool come from nowhere to nearly snatch the title, there seems to be a shock around the corner each year.

Who will it be in 2016/17, though? Plenty of managers will have a hunch that their side can do something a bit out the ordinary, won’t they?

Everton

the-ev

In Ronald Koeman, Everton have hired one of Europe’s finest managers. The Dutchman worked wonders at Southampton and there is no reason he cannot do the same with the Toffees.

All the quality is there in the squad and some good additions, notably Idrissa Gueye, have added balance to the talent. Going forward they have the ability to create chances freely through their plethora of attacking midfielders, whilst they can rely on Ashley Williams to hold the fort defensively.

Koeman’s path to success with Everton may take time, but, if things click, they could be a real threat to the European spots this season.

Crystal Palace

benteke

The first half of last season showed that Crystal Palace have a lot more about them than many would wish to credit them with. Briefly looking like they could have competed for top six honours, Alan Pardew’s side were troublesome both at Selhurst Park and on the road.

In the form of Loic Remy, who is out injured for the next couple of months, and Christian Benteke, they should have the strike force to upset even the sternest of Premier League defences. Opportunities will come flowing and, in retaining Wilfried Zaha, they have one of the most direct wingers in the league.

There’s every chance the Eagles will continue on their road to relegation, like the second half of last season, but a revival is not impossible.

Stoke City

stoke

Mark Hughes has managed to marshal Stoke’s squad of gifted players into one of Europe’s most inconsistent outfits. Capable of the breathtaking as much as they are dismal, the Potters are a tough side to face, as they pose a variety of threats.

Their attack, with the addition of Wilfried Bony, looks especially dangerous, while Joe Allen and Giannelli Imbula in central midfield will take time to find a balance between driving forward and protecting a shaky defence. Any team with the level of quality that Stoke possess will be a concern for opponents, so if Hughes finds a way for it all to work together he could cause a fair few upsets.