The Premier League is back! One of the most exhilarating leagues in the world returned and has already produced potential “goals of the season” and video assistance referee drama in a month and a half.Sitting atop the league so far is Everton and although it is too early to give a verdict on the end of the season standings, the dazzling performances of Everton, Aston Villa and Leeds United makes them teams to keep an eye on.
Though not regarded as part of the "big six," Everton’s global stature and successful performances in the transfer market make them appear as contenders. However, their performance last year was poor. The team successfullyrecruited talented players like Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi, Andre Gomes and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin to bolster it in integral positions. Thus, Everton was considered a Europa League candidate. However, the team won only three out of its first 10 games of 2019–20 the season with its new signings barely influencing its play. Furthermore, Marco Silva, the incumbent manager, wassacked in December, with the team staring at a relegation dogfight. In came the decorated Carlo Ancelotti, a fairly attacking-minded coach who had managed Real Madrid and AC Milan to Champions League glory. Thus, Everton’s finish at 12th place last season, and its total of only 44 goals in the league was a complete disaster.
On the other hand, Everton’s result and performance this year has shifted. Although theybegan the year with a +15,000 chance of winning the league, Everton has outperformed their opponents on the offensive side of the game. Like most summers, the team brought in exciting new players who have inspired its current success. James Rodriquez, whoarrived from Real Madrid for £22 million, has ignited the attacking midfield, along with other new players, with his vision and technique from set pieces. Furthermore,Watford’s ex-midfielder, Abdoulaye Docoure, has been highly effective in a box-to-box role. Compounding on the signing they made last year, Everton remains a highly in-depth team in the midfield and attacking side of the game. And with players like striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and his strike-force partner Richarlison in good form, Everton may triumph over them all when the season's curtain unfolds.
Another unlikely team that could cause shock waves across the league is Aston Villa, who were in the relegation zone for most of last season and needed to win their final game to stay in the league. Like Everton, the Villains have started strong, and sit second in the league with a game in hand. The team is also one of the only two without a tally in its loss column, with Everton being the other. The Villains beat last year’s league winner, Liverpool, 7–2, in a match where their star players flourished.
The team does lack skillful attacking players, but the arrival of striker Ollie Watkins and former Olympique Lyonnais forward Bertrand Traoré should enable Aston Villa to get the goals that they need. Based on last season’s showing, Aston Villa can count on their swift English midfielder, Jack Grealish, who continues to galvanize the team to win games. The addition of Chelsea loan’s Ross Barkley has shifted some of Grealish’s midfield possibilities. Barkley certainly has accepted his role. He has immediately proved to be an asset for the team with his performance during the victory over Liverpool and with his injury-time, game-winning goal over Leicester City on Sunday.,
On the defensive end, English national Tyrone Mings, a center back, has played well and has helped his side secure clean sheets. The team has only conceded two goals so far during this campaign and has made its opponents work hard to find open chances.
The only issue with Aston Villa’s current success is that they have not played many well-established teams in the league. However, their commanding win over Liverpool should warn teams: They are here to win.
Such characteristics are found in newly promoted sides who are not financially or tactically ill-trained to play in the Premier League — Leeds United is not such a team. Their recent back and forth league encounter with Manchester City, which ended in a 1–1 draw, displayed the qualities the team possesses. Leeds’ ability to quickly shift the ball from flank to flank and their rapid, quick-footed wingers like Helder Costa and Jack Harrison makes them a threat when they are in possession. They also have a composed English midfielder, Kalvin Phillips, who can quickly turn and find a pass to break down a team’s defense.
Although Leeds United’s style of play has not translated to a copious amount of goals — they’ve only scored nine in five games — the team is exciting to watch, and it should be applauded for its achievements in the league so far.