This season’s Premier League has been a thrilling watch. From title chases to relegation dog-fights – the Premier League has been a very compelling spectacle and it doesn’t look to end any time soon.
The title race between Arsenal and Manchester City may be dominating the headlines, but several teams are defying the odds and having successful seasons.
But who have sprung a surprise this season and where could those sides finish come the end of May?
Brighton & Hove Albion
To say Brighton have had an extraordinary season so far would be an understatement. They play one of the most attractive styles of football in the division and have rightly received a lot of praise.
Many anticipated that the east-Sussex-based outfit would fall off after Graham Potter’s departure to Chelsea in September. However, under Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton have gone from strength to strength and now look set to secure some kind of European football.
Irish sensation Evan Ferguson has been a revelation under De Zerbi and, at the age of 18, has been attracting the interest of the Premier League’s elite. Also, Kaoru Mitoma has been another shrewd addition and has 11 goal contributions to his name this season. Not to mention the superb form of the likes of Alexis Mac Allister and Lewis Dunk who have been key in Brighton sitting in the upper echelons of the table.
The Seagulls are also heading to Wembley to face Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup after a resounding 5-0 win over Grimsby Town. Despite the Red Devils going into the tie as favourites, the Seagulls will still fancy their chances at reaching the final.
The Seagulls currently sit in seventh place having played a few games less than the teams around them. Another thing going in their favour is not being involved in European competition, meaning they only have the Premier League to focus on.
It would be a magnificent achievement if they are to finish in a European place and they are certainly capable of doing so.
Similarly to Brighton, Brentford have not splashed the cash of big-name signings but still have a chance of competing in Europe next season. Both clubs are astute in their transfer business and more signings are successful than not.
Last season was the Bees’ first in the top flight and before the arrival of Christian Eriksen, they struggled to adapt to their new climate. Heading into this season, they made several smart signings including the acquisitions of Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter.
Especially since returning from the FIFA World Cup, Brentford have been in fine form and went nine games unbeaten in the league on their return. They have also picked up some memorable results including home wins against Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as an away draw to table-topping Arsenal.
The Bees have only lost twice at the Gtech Community Stadium this season – showing that their home form is one of the reasons why they are in the position that they are in. They have been helped by having an in-form Ivan Toney at their disposal who has netted on 18 occasions this season.
Brentford sit in ninth place at the moment and at the bare minimum, they should secure a top-ten finish. They are three points off of Brighton in seventh and the Europa League places are only a couple of more points away.
Thomas Frank’s side have a real chance of finishing in a European place but do you think if they are to, it would be a bigger achievement than Brighton?
Despite a recent drop-off, Fulham have had an excellent season after many predicted them to be facing an immediate return back to the Championship. A number of clever signings has ensured that they are not in relegation contention, but instead a top-ten side.
One of their best players this season has been João Palhinha. Brought in from Sporting Lisbon for a reported £20m fee, the Portuguese midfielder has been an amazing addition and especially for the price in today’s market. Furthermore, Manor Solomon, Andreas Pereira and Bernd Leno have all adapted well to life in west London.
The Cottagers were by far the best team in the Championship last season and finished as champions with 90 points. They would have certainly learnt lessons from their previous spells in the Premier League – especially when they spent over £100 million just to be relegated that same season.
Even though they are unlikely to finish in a European place, Fulham have had a very successful campaign.
Some other surprises have come this season as well, in particular with Arsenal. Not many expected the Gunners to be challenging for the Premier League title and are in the driving seat as we approach the run-in. They have become one of the best teams to watch and have improved a lot since missing out on the top four last season.
Additionally, Newcastle United have come on leaps and bounds since last season and they are now one of the favourites to secure Champions League football. Following their Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester United, the Magpies have only lost one in six as they look to bring the good times back to Tyneside.
But who do you think has been the surprise package of the Premier League this season?