Three outsiders that could win a first Premier League title
Another exciting season of Premier League football is upon us and for the next nine months, fans of the beautiful game would be treated to a healthy dose of thrills, drama, and nail-biting action.
The game of football is hierarchical in nature and the Premier League is no different, with teams like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea expected to contest for the title, while others jostle for other positions.
However, beyond the favorites, there are a handful of other clubs who could fancy their chances of causing an upset in the league this season.
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, only seven clubs have had the honor of winning the title, with Manchester United leading the way with 13 triumphs, while Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Leicester City, and Liverpool round up the winners.
Of these seven, only Leicester’s triumph in 2016 and Blackburn’s in 1995 can be classified as genuine surprises but we could be set for a new Premier League winner this season.
There are several teams who are not exactly favorites but can be considered as outsiders for the Premier League title in case the top guns falter.
Some of these clubs have already lifted the trophy, while others are yet to have a feel of winning the Premier League.
Here, we shall be focusing on three outsiders for the Premier League who could be set to win their first title in the coming years.
Everton have spent much of the last three decades in the shadows of their more illustrious neighbors Liverpool but this has not always been the case.
Once upon a time, the Toffees were among the biggest teams in the land and enjoyed a golden period in the 1980s but they have since hit a fallow patch and have been trophyless since winning the FA Cup in 1995.
Since then, they have seen hitherto unheralded clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City usurp them on the standings, while they have sunk deeper into mid-table obscurity.
It is not for want of trying though, as Everton have been among the biggest spenders in the Premier League in recent years but have failed to get value for their money, with most of their signings turning out to be expensive flops, while the constant chopping and changing of managers has hardly helped matters.
Last season, the Merseysiders ended in a disappointing 12th position – their lowest league finish in almost two decades – but fans of the club have reason to look ahead with optimism.
First off is the reassuring presence of Carlo Ancelotti on the bench. The Italian is one of the most revered managers in the history of the game and has a track record that only few can match.
His playing and coaching career is littered with the biggest trophies on offer and Anceotti is one of only seven men to have won the UEFA Champions League as a player and manager and one of only three men to have won the trophy three times as a coach.
Having managed some of the biggest teams in the world including AC Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid, the 61-year-old would use his tactical superiority to bring the best out of his players.
Everton have also impressed in the transfer market, with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan brought in from Watford and Napoli respectively to add steel to the midfield.
The transfer which, however, caused the most stir was the arrival of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
The Colombian international is easily one of the most creative players in the world and after his struggles at Real Madrid, he would be eager to get his career back on track under his mentor.
The 29-year-old has started brightly and played a key role in helping Everton get their first win over Tottenham in nine years, controlling proceedings from midfield with his vision and precise passing.
Rodriguez created no fewer than five chances on the day, which saw him equal a record held by Alexis Sanchez for the most chances created on a debut by a Premier League player.
5 – James Rodríguez is the first Premier League debutant to create at least five chances since Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal in August 2014. Dazzling. pic.twitter.com/sGkb0JWMmv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 13, 2020
In attack, Calvert-Lewin continues to grow in strength, while Richarlison would fancy his chances of playing under an attack-minded manager.
Defensive issues still persist, but Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman are among the best full-back combinations in the league.
The squad depth is also pretty impressive and players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott, Bernard, and Tom Davies can be called upon to influence proceedings.
Even though Everton have flattered to deceive on several occasions in the past, there are enough positive signs that they could make an impact this season, possibly taking a cue from their city rivals to end their 35-year wait for league glory.
Less than a decade ago, Tottenham were on the outside looking in at the top four.
But sincesecuring Champions League football for the first time in 2011, the Lily Whites have grown in stature and ambition and are now firmly installed as one of the top sides in the Premier League.
It might signify a fall from grace that Spurs are now considered outsiders for the Premier League – having contested for the title some years ago – but this is very much a function of the increased competition in the league rather than an aspersion on the club’s ambition.
Indeed, Tottenham deserve praise for maintaining their competitiveness despite being restricted in the transfer market by their stadium construction.
They made it to the final of the Champions League in 2019 even though they did not sign any player for two consecutive windows.
The appointment of Jose Mourinho in place of Mauricio Pochetino might not have gone down well with fans of the club, but the Portuguese is a serial winner who has a track record of delivering trophies everywhere he has worked.
This winning mentality is badly needed at White Hart Lane, with the club having not won a major trophy since their League Cup win in 2008 – which in turn was their first trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1991.
Two trophies in almost 30 years is hardly impressive for a club of Spurs’s stature and this lack of tangible success has been a major source of derision by rivals fans.
In Harry Kane, Tottenham have one of the best strikers in the world and if the Englishman can stay fit, he is unarguably a contender for a third Golden Boot.
The arrival of Matt Doherty from Wolves would help address an area of concern, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg would add steel to midfield and Joe Hart provide cover for Hugo Lloris.
They might be far from a complete team and the arduous campaign ahead could expose the threadbare nature of the squad, but if Mourinho can deliver a masterclass tactical performance, Tottenham could very well lift their first league title since 1963.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have grown from a Championship side to European performers and are on course to match Leicester City as an emerging force in the Premier League.
The West Midlands side have the astute management of Nuno Espirito Santo to thank and the Portuguese was recently rewarded with a contract extension that would see him remain at the Molineux until 2023.
New signing Fabio Silva is the next shining beacon of Portuguese football and the 18-year-old joins the Iberian contingent already present at the club including Diego Jota, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and his manager.
It is a stretch to suggest that Wolves are even contenders for the Premier League, much less winning the title, but like Leicester City showed us in 2016, when a team shows team spirit and dedication to surmount all obstacles, impossible is nothing in football .
Outsiders for the Premier League top four
Beyond the battle for the league title, there are also several other intriguing sub-plots in the Premier League and one of these is undoubtedly the race for the top four.
The riches and glamour associated with the Champions League makes it imperative for the biggest clubs to secure European football and for some, a season without a top four finish is classified as a disaster.
With Liverpool, Chelsea, and the two Manchester clubs currently operating at a standard far above the rest of the league, it would require a herculean effort for this quartet to be dislodged from the top four.
However, some clubs would fancy their chances of doing so and can be considered as outsiders for the Premier League top four in the event of a slip-up by any of the favorites.
Arsenal are obvious favorites to usurp any of the aforementioned quartet and have the quality and history to aid their quest.
The Gunners kicked off their Premier League campaign in an impressive fashion, dispatching Fulham 3-0, with Willian running the show on his debut for the club.
Manager Mikel Arteta has brought balance to the team and boosted morale with two trophies in his first nine months at the club.
The combination of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette is one of the most potent in the league and despite the strength-in-depth of those above them, Arsenal undoubtedly have the quality to end their five-year Champions League absence.
Four years ago, Leicester City did the unthinkable when they won the Premier League with odds of 5,000 to 1 and although they have fallen some way off those heights, they still have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the best in the land.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has slowly reestablished his reputation after his earlier stint with Liverpool, while the playing personnel available to him is also impressive.
Few from the title-winning squad remain at the King Power Stadium but Jamie Vardy is still leading the line at the grand old age of 33 and kicked off the campaign with a brace in the 3-0 victory over West Brom.
Leeds United ended their 16-year absence from the Premier League when they won the Championship last season and the Peacocks are ready to make an impact on the English top-flight.
Marcelo Bielsa would be charged with leading them from the bench and the Argentine would relish the opportunity to test his tactical acumen with some of the game’s best managers.
Leeds played out an exhilarating game with Liverpool on their return to the Premier League, losing 4-3 to the defending champions but they showed enough promise to send a statement of intent to the rest of the league.
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