We’ve made it to Christmas early within the Premier League schedule this yr, however there has nonetheless been loads of time for gamers and groups to impress and certainly underwhelm us. In a season stuffed with surprises, listed here are 10 shock packages thus far, by way of overachieving and underachieving.
A handful of groups have surpassed expectations, with Leicester, Everton and Southampton all sitting above Manchester Metropolis. Nonetheless, there are two different groups whose locations within the prime half of the desk are much more shocking on condition that they had been anticipated to be concerned within the relegation battle.
The primary is Aston Villa, who’re ninth within the desk regardless of having two video games in hand on most of their rivals. In truth, Dean Smith’s facet are inside two wins of second place. They made some shrewd signings in the summertime so it’s no shock to see them doing effectively however, having completed final season one level above the drop only a few months in the past, their subsequent progress has been vastly spectacular.
Villa have tried probably the most photographs per recreation within the Premier League this season, whereas additionally creating probably the most probabilities per recreation too. Maybe extra spectacular has been their defensive report. Villa conceded probably the most photographs within the league final season (16 per recreation) however now solely solely 5 groups are conceding fewer. Summer time signing Emi Martínez has saved probably the most clear sheets within the league, with seven – 5 of which have come on the street after Villa didn’t maintain a single clear sheet away from dwelling final season.
Whereas Aston Villa’s switch dealings earlier than the season seemed promising, the identical couldn’t be mentioned of West Ham, whose inactivity out there led many to again them for the drop. To be within the prime half of the desk at this stage of the marketing campaign, even after a 3-0 defeat to rivals Chelsea on Monday, is a few achievement for David Moyes and his gamers.
Following their abject dwelling defeat to Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season, which solely served to strengthen the claims of their critics, West Ham have picked up 19 of a attainable 21 factors in opposition to groups outdoors the “large six”. That’s regardless of being with out their post-lockdown star Michail Antonio for a while and having solely seen fleeting glimpses of late arrival Saïd Benrahma.
So far as particular person shock packages are involved, Jack Grealish is the primary Englishman to prime our Premier League rankings at Christmas since Wayne Rooney did it in 2011. Whereas the Villa captain’s rise has undoubtedly caught the attention, his emergence as a real Premier League star is maybe not altogether shocking. Various much less heralded gamers have actually stepped up this season, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin an apparent candidate. Whereas the striker’s type had picked up following Marco Silva’s departure final season, few may have predicted how prolific the striker would turn out to be.
Beforehand famend for his workrate in main the road, it’s the 23-year-old’s aerial menace within the field that now units him aside. He has targeted his recreation to play between the strains of the 18-yard-box underneath Carlo Ancelotti and is reaping the advantages. Joint second to Mo Salah within the scoring charts (11 targets) in addition to photographs heading in the right direction (24), he appears just like the pure alternative for Harry Kane within the England set-up and is likely one of the league’s most improved gamers.
Fabinho deserves an honourable point out too, not simply because his type has been excellent however as a result of his efficiency ranges have arguably improved in masking for Virgil van Dijk at centre-back. There have been query marks across the Brazilian’s mobility in deputising for the Dutchman however he has greater than stood as much as the duty, defending one-on-one conditions with ease and adapting seamlessly to turn out to be an much more pivotal participant than earlier than.
Maybe probably the most shocking participant of the season, nonetheless, is Patrick Bamford. His performances have silenced critics even inside his personal fanbase. Many would have anticipated the striker to play second fiddle to report signing Rodrigo this season however the Spain worldwide has usually performed from a deeper place given Bamford’s type.
The one participant to have not less than one shot heading in the right direction in all of his appearances this season, Bamford’s potential to get into goalscoring positions has hardly ever been questioned. Nonetheless, the very fact he’s second solely to Harry Kane for photographs and degree with the England captain on targets scored, with 9, has come as a shock to those who believed the Championship was “his degree”.
So far as underachievers are involved, Manchester Metropolis can be the plain candidate in another season however the collapse at Arsenal is unavoidable. The Gunners are nearer to the relegation zone (4 factors) than the highest half (seven) after 14 video games of the season and the reins are certainly slipping from Mikel Arteta’s grasp. Their 4-1 defeat to Manchester Metropolis within the League Cup quarter-finals was simply their newest disaster, with supervisor Mikel Arteta admitting they’re in “large bother”.
Issues appeared to be bettering for Arsenal when they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Previous Trafford in early November however they haven’t received within the league since, choosing up simply two factors from their final accessible 21. The soccer is stale and bordering on passive at occasions, rating fifteenth for photographs (10.4) and nineteenth for tackles (11.5) per recreation. The 19-year-old Bukayo Saka has been their strongest participant by far because the senior members of the squad have wilted underneath the growing strain.
There have been a lot of responsible culprits – too many to call – however by way of a drop off from earlier ranges, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a shadow of his former self. The captain has proven little or no by means of management qualities and, because the targets have dried up – albeit partly on account of an absence of creativity – simply what he presents to the facet has turn out to be more and more unclear. He’s outdoors the highest 30 for photographs per recreation this season and his tally of three targets is inferior to Kurt Zouma, amongst 28 different gamers.
With reference to Chelsea, a lot has been made in regards to the impression of their large summer time signings. Their report signing, Kai Havertz, has struggled. The German continues to be very younger, however discovering a spot within the group that brings one of the best from his plain abilities has confirmed to be an issue for Frank Lampard. The 21-year-old has performed in a midfield three, as a No 10 and off the suitable flank, but he has not likely satisfied wherever. He has accomplished the complete 90 minutes in simply three of his 10 begins, averaging lower than one for photographs, key passes and dribbles per recreation. It’s far too quickly to jot down him off, but it surely’s additionally truthful to anticipate extra from a £70m participant, no matter age. He’s, in any case, a full worldwide with loads of expertise within the Bundesliga and in Europe.
Typically, it’s the attacking gamers who’ve under-performed this season, and Anthony Martial is one other amongst them. Regardless of two encouraging performances during the last week, the Frenchman nonetheless appears a number of ranges under the usual he had set within the second half of final season. He returned after the lockdown rejuvenated and stuffed with confidence, however inconsistency in entrance of purpose has crept again in. He’s nonetheless lacking probabilities you’d anticipate him to take.
With one comparatively lucky purpose to his title within the league, his strike fee is means down on final season, when he scored 17 league targets – his finest return in his profession. Scott McTominay scored extra league targets in three minutes on Sunday than Martial has performed all season. At occasions he has seemed uninterested, with only one deal with and never a single interception to his title. One would possibly argue that’s not his job, however Martial has hardly led the cost from the entrance for a United facet that, till this weekend, had began matches slowly this season.
Our last underachiever is Adama Traoré, whose blistering type early final season specifically is turning into one thing of a distant reminiscence. The departure of Diogo Jota may have elevated the duty on Traore’s industrial-strength shoulders however as a substitute he has been the person sacrificed within the beginning XI most of the time. Even within the absence of star striker Raúl Jiménez there was no place in a makeshift assault for Traoré, who’s and not using a purpose or help this season, having had a direct hand in 13 of Wolves’ targets final season.