We are two weeks into the Premier League and have already been given great entertainment. The defending championsChelsea have struggled, Stoke City signed Xherdan Shaqiri, and City are in second… Leicester City, that is.
But who are the teams we should believe the hype in?
The difficult thing with predicting a sleeper team is will they fall off. Look at West Ham last year. They got off to a great start and even got a hope of a fourth place spot. However, after Christmas, the Hammers fell down the table and went from pushing for Champions League to escaping relegation.
But this year, because of the TV deal that gave the 5 billion pounds, clubs have a good amount of money to spend.
Mid table clubs like Stoke and Crystal Palace took advantage of that opportunity.
Stoke are an interesting team. They’ve gone from playing boring soccer and flirting with relegation to being a solid mid-table team. Many fans will point to their beloved manager Mark Hughes when asked who changed Stoke.
The Potters decided to test their ambition, signing players like Bojan from Barcelona. They didn’t stop there, and went on to sign Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Afellay.
But their biggest signing this Summer? The Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri.
Many people are still finding it hard to believe that he signed for Stoke. However, Stoke fans could care less. Shaqiri will bring in great skill to Stoke and be a right fit in the attacking puzzle for them.
Because Shaqiri arrived at the Britannia, Stoke now have more Champions League winners on their team than Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City combined. Earning them the nickname “Stokealona”.
But as we all know, chemistry is a huge factor in success. Putting players that didn’t make it at bigger clubs together doesn’t mean they’ll fit right in together. It takes time for them to mesh well.
Stoke fell 1-0 to Liverpool in the first week courtesy of a Phillipe Coutinho wonder goal. The second week started off badly as they went down 2-0 to Spurs, but they clawed back and stole a point from Tottenham.
If Stoke can have their players gain chemistry and carry good form for a good amount of time, Stoke may see themselves looking down at quite a few teams.
Palace are an interesting team. The past two seasons started poorly, but results began to get better as January ended. Both seasons saw two different managers pull them out of the slump, but their current manager Alan Pardew hasn’t stopped there. Pardew set the record for most Premier League wins for Crystal Palace, getting 11 wins in 19 games.
The Eagles did very well with the money they received. They saw a bench-ridden Yohan Cabaye at PSG and decided to chase after him. The Frenchman signed for Palace for a fee around 13 million pounds (including add-ons).
It’s not all starpower that you need in order to sky-rocket up the table. Palace pursued young players like strikers Connor Wickham and Patrick Bamford, and goal-keeper Alex McCarthy.
Palace started off the season with a 3-1 win at Norwich City, but fell 2-1 at home to Arsenal. Although they fell to the Gunners, they still showed flashes of brilliance against a top team.
If Palace can keep their core players (Bolasie, Puncheon, Zaha), then I think they can make a real strong push for the Europa League spots. But keeping Bolasie may be an issue as clubs are lining up to get the Congolese winger. According to The Guardian, Alan Pardew put a 60 million pound price tag for Bolasie, which leads to the (obvious) conclusion that clubs are indeed in for him.
While it is only the second week, we can tell what teams are really in it now that everyone has settled down. We see players who are making a great name for themselves and players who may have been over-hyped. Soccer is an unpredictable sport, which makes the beautiful game truly amazing.
I write about the beautiful game. From the smallest islands to the biggest teams, it all will be covered.