The Premier League is at its unpredictable best
“The Premier League may not be the very best league in the world anymore, while it may not contain the best of the best in players. However, what it does come out top in is its unpredictable nature”, says Ben Darvill in ComeOnLads.com Premier League review.
It proves, time after time, and season after season, that no matter how many people back a team, or how much supposed experts know, it is impossible to call this league.
Isolating the fourth Premier League match week, there were a number of surprising results. Everybody backed Manchester United to make it four wins from four against Stoke, but they were held to a 2–2 draw by their hosts. People expected goals between Manchester City and Liverpool, but few would have bet on Jurgen Klopp’s side taking a 5–0 hammering.
The entire weekend was one in which the only thing that was predictable, was the unpredictability of the results. Indeed, in the fifth game week, there were once again surprising results as Huddersfield continued their fine start to Premier League life with a 1–1 draw with Leicester, while Burnley held Liverpool to the same scoreline.
The top six aren’t the only teams in the league
With all of the money getting thrown around by the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and United, it would be very easy to assume that the Premier League is all about the ‘big boys’. However, this could not be further from the truth.
While England’s top league may no longer be the very best in the world, it remains the most exciting, and, above all else, it remains the most competitive.
Across the world, there are many fine leagues with some outstanding teams. While the very best in Spain, Germany and Italy may be better than England’s best, they are not challenged in the same way as the Premier League sides are. La Liga is all about Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, the Bundesliga is largely predicated on Bayern Munich, while Serie A is Juventus’ stomping ground.
While the above are fine teams, they will often find themselves playing against sides of very low quality. Perhaps this is because the likes of Madrid and Barcelona are able to attract the best to their side leaving little else for the rest, or maybe it is simply because the disparity between the best and the rest is too big.
In the Premier League, the second-bottom team is currently Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s men recently ran Manchester City incredibly close only to be denied a point by a late Raheem Sterling winner. While Madrid may have to rely on a late goal at times, it is more because of their own profligacy that they find themselves in that situation.
City were outstanding with the ball against Bournemouth but the Cherries were resolute in defensive whilst still holding a threat going forward when they broke.
The case is the same for Sean Dyche’s Burnley too. Even without their captain Tom Heaton, they battled to a 1–1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield. While some may claim that the smaller teams have far more success against Liverpool, Burnley also claimed a draw with Tottenham after beating Chelsea 3–2 on the opening day. The fact they were able to claim five points from these three fixtures is impressive, whilst it also displays that the rest of the teams are not that far short of their counterparts at the top.
England’s ‘smaller’ teams are more competitive than their European counterparts
Indeed, it seems as though the other 14 sides in England’s top echelon make the league what it is. The likes of Newcastle, Huddersfield, Burnley, Southampton and West Brom make up the top half of the table, something that may happen in Spain, but it would be because the two Madrid sides and Barcelona would already be out of sight at this point.
It feels as though the Premier League is the closest thing to a democracy in football leagues across the world. Every single side has a voice across the season with their two games against each team going some way to deciding who wins the title, who misses out on Europe, and who gets relegated.
It is telling that West Ham are still seen as amongst the smaller sides in the Premier League. The Hammers were very intelligent in their summer business bringing in the likes of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez to bolster their side. However, even with the aforementioned household names, they have struggled to get going this season. No points from their first three games saw pressure mount on the London side who have since taken four points from two games.
With the sanctioning of spending this summer and their move to the London Stadium, West Ham seem to be moving towards finally realising their ambition of becoming a real top side. Of course, they must first begin to excel on the pitch with their performances sub-par in their opening few games.
Everton have the best chance of breaking into the top six
Indeed, Everton are a similar story. While they are a big side in the league, they remain outside of that classic top six. The hierarchy at Goodison Park gave the green light to £140 million worth of spending this summer as they look to close the gap between themselves and the Champions League spots.
While they too have hit tough times in the league thus far, their continued growth conveys the fact that the smaller teams are far bigger than they were even a few years ago.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho even claimed that Everton should be looking at the Champions League places at least this season, a comment Koeman rebuked, telling the BBC:
Is there anybody who sees this as realistic for Everton? Please, come on. Fans, press — we need time.
While when he was asked about their targets for this season, Ronald Koeman responded
The same as last season
Mourinho echoes the claim that the sides below are indeed closing the gap, and that the Manchester United manager thinks Everton should be challenging even higher up the table.