Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Who could be the Premier League’s European dark horses this season?

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While a string of Premier League stars might have their attention on international matters for the next week, last weekend’s stunning results really took Europe by storm.

Watching Aston Villa pick up a 7-2 win against defending champions Liverpool, Tottenham hit Manchester United for six and West Ham picking up a 3-0 win away at Leicester, many feel this season could be the most unpredictable in history.

With upsets coming left, right and center as we entered October, the race to secure a European finish could host a few dark horses this time around.

So, while we might have only just opened the 2020/2021 campaign after a prolonged summer, who are the three teams who could mount a European charge this season?


With many around Goodison more than open about their disappointment last season, few across the Premier League would have expected what has been nothing short of a stunning start to the New Year for Everton.

Entering the international break with a thumping 4-2 win against Brighton on home soil, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have skyrocketed to the top of the table and are now the only side who can boast a 100% start to the season among teams who have made four appearances.

In fact, Everton have won each of their opening four games to a top-flight season for the first time since 1969/1970, when they went on to win the title.

Suddenly considering themselves in pole position to secure a long-awaited European return this season, there is no doubt that the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and summer arrival James Rodriguez are spearheading a new-look Everton.

With a mouthwatering showdown against bitter rivals and defending champions Liverpool when they return from the international break, you might be interested to know that the Toffees are priced at 12/5 with 888sport to bring Champions League football back to Goodison.

Aston Villa

While Sunday’s fixtures might have thrown up a string of drama and even more upsets, there is no doubt that Aston Villa stole most of the headlines after what will be remembered as a famous night in the Midlands.

Putting on what was a real clinic against Jurgen Klopp’s superstars over the weekend, last year’s relegation scrappers eventually landed a 7-2 romp on home soil and couldn’t have laid down a more clinical marker.

While Dean Smith’s side might have only just about managed to hang onto their Premier League status by a one-point buffer over the summer, Villa have opened the new campaign with three wins on the bounce and their exploits in the transfer window have gained plenty of plaudits.

Watching both Ross Barkley and Sunday’s hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins both open their top-flight account against the defending champions, skipper Jack Grealish committed his long-term future to the club and is in the form of his life.

Although a top-four return might be a step too far, you might be interested to know that Aston Villa are priced at 10/1 with Betfair to secure a Europa League return.


More than holding their own against Manchester City over the weekend and fully deserving of their point at Elland Road, many a neutral across the country were excited by Leeds’ Premier League return, and they certainly haven’t let them down.

Marking their top-flight return with that highly-dramatic 4-3 defeat away at Liverpool on the opening weekend, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have since collected seven points over their last three appearances since their rollercoaster Anfield performance last month.

With the mood around West Yorkshire at a red-hot high and already proving that they can firmly mix it with the Premier League’s big boys, the former Napoli boss has invested well and it is no secret a shock European finish is at the top of many a Leeds’ fans agenda.

Watching last year’s top scorer Patrick Bamford prove some of the critics wrong and really hitting the ground running, the Whites have not recorded a top-six finish since 2002, the season before they so famously lost their top-flight status.

You might be interested to know that Leeds are priced at 6/1 with Unibet to secure a top-six finish this season.


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan



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