The surprise package so far this season has to be West Bromwich Albion. They are currently third, yes third, in the Premier League and enjoying a new lease of life under manager Steve Clarke.
We’ve also seen Everton enjoy an impressive start to the season, as well as newly promoted West Ham sitting comfortably in the top eight.
So are we finally beginning to witness a shift in power in the Premier League? I truly believe the surprise emergence of the above teams might be an early sign that the Premier League’s top four are coming under threat.
We’ve seen Tottenham breaking the top four mould over the past few years, while on the flip-side we have witnessed Liverpool fading into a team that has only really been capable of competing for a top-six finish.
But what about the other clubs who have had to settle for mid table obscurity or the odd relegation battle every other season? Well, a small handful or them are attempting to get themsleves their own little share of the pie and, so far, they appear to be succeeding.
After 13 games in the top-flight, we have already seen some shock results that have upset the balance of the Premier League’s elite. West Brom have beaten Liverpool and Chelsea, drawn at Tottenham and only lost to two late Edin Dzeko goals at home to Manchester City.
Everton have beaten Manchester United and have managed good draws against Newcastle and Liverpool, while even 13th placed Norwich have got themselves in on the act with home wins over Manchester United and Arsenal to go with their vital draws away at Tottenham and Everton.
And even West Ham, in their first season back in the Premier League, have beaten Newcastle away and battled out a goalless draw at home to champions Manchester City.
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Of course, there are people who will dismiss these as just freak results and will call West Brom’s current third place standing as just a run of good form that will surely come to an end. This may be right but, at this stage in the Premier League last season, there are some surprising differences in where each team people believe they should be, how they were doing at this stage last season and where they are now.
Starting with last season’s final top four, only Manchester United have the exact same points (30) now as they did after 13 games last season. The difference is that last season they were four points adrift of rivals Manchester City at the top of the division compared to now where they are a point clear of City, with Roberto Mancini’s side five points worse off this season with 29.
Arsenal are three points worse off this season but still occupy the same sixth place they did exactly a year ago, while Tottenham were a whopping eight points better off last year than they are today.
On the flip side, let’s look at how this season’s surprise packages in West Brom and Everton and fared against last season’s surprising performers Newcastle.
On the 26th November 2011, West Brom were 13th with 14 points and Everton were eighth with 16 points. Today, the Baggies are third with 26 points and David Moyes’ Toffees are fifth with 21 points. That is a huge improvement in just a single year, and one that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Meanwhile, Alan Pardew’s Newcastle are 12 points and 10 places worse off in the Premier League than this time last year.
Other clubs that are worse off this year are Swansea (-4 points), Liverpool (-6) Aston Villa (-5), QPR (-11) and Norwich (-1), while the improved teams are Wigan (+5), Fulham (+4), Stoke and Sunderland (both +1).
With the teams expected to be running away with it ultimately doing worse at this stage than last season and the teams not expected to do much or to struggle exceeding expectations, it looks as if we’re seeing the early signs of a shift in Premier League power.
I am not suggesting the likes of United, City, Arsenal and Chelsea have their title and top four chances under immediate threat, but I do believe the Premier League is becoming a league where teams are more capable of beating anyone than ever before. Despite the amounts of money the elite are spending on players every transfer window, we are still seeing lesser clubs compete against them every week and occasionally getting results. In short, the Premier League seems to be more of a level playing field this season.
This could, of course, be a blip and normal service may well be resumed sooner than we think, but as things stand we can’t turn a blind eye at what we’ve seen so far this season.
So, do you think we are beginning to witness what could be a shift in power in the Premier League? Or are West Brom, Everton and West Ham merely over performing? Leave your thoughts below.