Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Who have been the Premier League’s surprise packages since opening the 2021/22 campaign?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 7 Oct 2021

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While Chelsea’s 3-1 victory against Southampton last weekend might have sent them to the top of the table, there have been a handful of sides from across the Premier League who have continued to surprise.

Despite many expecting the usual suspects to be leading the title chase once again this season, some of England’s smaller teams have their sights firmly set on trying to upset the establishment.

With the Premier League taking a fortnight break due to October’s international fixtures, we have taken a look at three sides who have cemented their spot as an early-season surprise package.

Brentford

While Brentford might have only secured their maiden Premier League campaign via the play-offs over the summer, Thomas Frank’s side have only continued to gain a host of admirers from fans and pundits alike.

Making their first-ever top-flight appearance and landing a deserved 2-0 victory against Arsenal in west London, the Bees really haven’t looked back after what has quickly become a stunning start to life in the top-flight.

With their red-hot attacking talisman Ivan Toney firmly playing his way into Gareth Southgate’s thoughts, Brentford head into October’s international break sat seventh in the table, and continuing to break a host of records.

Already skyrocketing their way away from an early-season relegation scrap, Frank’s side were once again showing their resolve when they made a trip across the capital last weekend.

Involved in that Game of the Season contender as they snatched an action-packed 3-3 draw against former champions Liverpool on September 25th, the Bees grabbed a last-gasp winner at the London Stadium as they picked up a 2-1 victory against West Ham.

With just a single defeat to their name so far this season, there is no doubt that Brentford have quickly become the neutrals’ new favourite Premier League side.

Brighton

Although Brentford’s last-gasp 2-1 win away at Europa League outfit West Ham on Sunday might have seen them steal most of the headlines, Brighton’s own remarkable start has got many talking.

While the Seagulls might have once again spent large spells of last season battling it out at the foot of the table, Graham Potter’s men have left fans on the south coast dreaming of what could be a club-best campaign.

Once again gaining plenty of fans for their fluid approach, the one-time Swansea boss finds his high-flying squad head into the international break sat sixth in the table, and riding a real wave.

Although the Seagulls would have been hugely disappointed to have had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate against Arsenal on Saturday evening, Brighton once again underlined the improvements that they have made over the summer.

Doing a stellar job of filling the void left by a recently injured Yves Bissouma as they snatched a dramatic injury-time equalizer against rivals Crystal Palace on September 27th, Potter’s side will be confident of keeping up their purple patch later in the month.

Set for a well-earned break, the south coast outfit will be next seen when they make the trip to a rock-bottom Norwich.

Everton

Watching Carlo Ancelotti make the move back to Real Madrid over the summer, it is fair to say that a large section of the Everton crowd were far from pleased to see Rafa Benitez make his Merseyside return.

Guiding Liverpool to Champions League success during his tenure at Anfield, few across the Premier League would have expected the former Newcastle boss to make such an immediate impact.

While the 61-year-old might still be trying to fully win over his new fanbase, the Blues head into October’s international break sat fifth in the table, and coming off the back of another gritty display.

Mounting a second-half comeback at Old Trafford as the Blues grabbed a deserved 1-1 draw away at Manchester United, Benitez also deserves plenty of praise for some shrewd acquisitions over the summer.

Despite much being made over moves for both Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray, both of the former England internationals have really hit the ground running.

Watching Townsend bag the equalizer last weekend and notching up his fifth goal of the season, Everton have done a fantastic job after being unable to call upon both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison recently.

With their sights set on securing a European return this year, the Blues are priced at 11/5 with 888sport to claim a top-six finish.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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