Teams shaping up to be surprise packages in this year’s Premier League
As August draws to a conclusion, the new Premier League season is already starting to lose the epithet new, and feels increasingly like part of the furniture. This is usually the stage in proceedings at which the effect of opening week shockers gradually dissipates and the cream rises to the top.
However, that is only partially true, at least so far, this season. Already, there are signs that several teams could have a surprise or two in store this year, and might catch both the fans and the bookmakers on the hop.
Here’s a team that is no stranger to giving bookies sleepless nights. In fact, it’s fair to assume that some are still having nightmares about the events of May 2016. One consequence of that crazy season is bookmakers have learned that anything is possible, and have stopped offering the 5000/1 odds that were on the table four years ago.
Leicester’s start to the season has looked undramatic on paper, and three goals from as many games is nothing to write home about. But they have slotted into fourth place in the table by staying out of trouble and emerging from tricky opening fixtures against Wolves and Chelsea with honours even. With those icebergs successfully negotiated, there are calmer waters ahead, and The Foxes can look to extend their unbeaten record well into the season. A repeat of the 2005/06 heroics might be asking a bit much, and the EPL odds at Sportsbet.io quote them at 400/1. However, the top six is definitely achievable. If you think they can upset the established order, bookies are offering odds around the 7/2 mark.
So who else is unbeaten after three fixtures? Aside from the inevitable Liverpool and Manchester City right at the top, the only other team is Wolves, although they also have the distinction of being one of only two winless teams at the same juncture. Three games and three points doesn’t look so special at first glance, but each of these has been a hard-fought draw.
This season was always going to be a test of mettle for Wolves. After their amazing promotion year, many were predicting they would buckle under the pressure of the EPL and Europe Leagues. They’ve shown no sign of doing so as yet and will be another team ready to pick off the big-name teams and claim a place at the Premier League’s top table as the season progresses.
Wolves showed last year that being a surprise package in the Premier League doesn’t have to mean killing giants or “doing a Leicester.” In the 2018/19 season, they were the only promotion team that really looked at home in the Premier League, with Fulham and Cardiff languishing in the relegation zone all year and inevitably returning to the Championship.
This year, the pundits predicted that two of the promoted teams would compete well at the highest level and successfully stay up. It’s fair to say that Sheffield United was not one of them.
Of course there’s a long way to go, but the Blades have surprised everyone with their performance to date, taking four points from their first three games. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the team ethos that has shone through, however. Here’s a team that expects to win and will not accept anything less. This was evident from manager Chris Wilder’s angry reaction to his team’s narrow defeat at the hands of Leicester, when he told reporters that he demanded results and would not applaud effort. Bookmakers are still offering even money on the Blades to stay up, while the odds of a top ten finish have shortened to 10/1.