The Premier League has long been regarded as one of the toughest leagues in the world with as much as eight teams challenging for a top four spot every season and a bunch of unpredictable events crucially defining the title race. This season has panned out in a similar way, yet it has succeeded to take the whole footballing world by storm.
Every season as a whole is always an unpredictable one. But to describe this season, one would have to coin a new word altogether. With a string of mid-table clubs going through a positive transition and the newly-promoted one’s delivering Premier League quality football week-in week-out, English football has experienced a meteoric rise in terms of competitiveness and passion for the sport.
It has been a big step up for the mid-table and bottom clubs this season but three clubs have defined this season’s proceedings, namely: Leicester City, Tottenham and West Ham.
Leicester City’s success story is nothing short of a fairy tale. A club languishing at the bottom of the table seven points from safety at this stage last season, are sitting at the top of the table five points clear today. You’d never have heard of a journey like the foxes are on because, simply, there haven’t been any similar ones. Ever.
With Chelsea’s fall from grace this season, many mid-table clubs were tipped to break into the top four with the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham all in the hunt. Little did we expect that somehow Leicester would capitalize on the opportunity more efficiently than almost all mid-table clubs in the division could. They now find themselves as favorites to lift the famous trophy ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City.
But it all burns down to the final nine games of the season for Leicester City, exactly the situation last time around but with different targets in mind. Last season they were doomed to go down but seven wins in their final nine games were enough for them to avoid the drop. This time though, a similar run would see them lift the title comfortably ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham.
This brings us to our second wildcard of the season, Leicester’s closest title rivals, Tottenham. The North-London outfit had a slow start to the season which was down to the then misfiring Harry Kane. Since then, Kane has scored 20 goals and unsurprisingly it has helped Spurs to springboard their season and become a title hopeful.
Tottenham have always been a mid-table club and start every season with a Champions League spot as their primary target coupled with a successful cup run but often end up pressing the self-destruct button in the final run-in of fixtures and finish the season with a Europa League place in hand. The club has forever remained in the shadow of their North-London rivals Arsenal but for the first time in the Premier League era they look like they are stepping out of it and surpassing them.
An extremely talented team full of young players under Mauricio Pochettino, a talented man himself, seem to be on the right path finally and as of now, sky is the limit for them. They have huge title credentials in both domestic and European football this term and are favorites to win both.
But like every season, there are huge question marks over their mentality. As mentioned earlier, they often blow their chances in the final stages of the season and face an almighty task to continue to win games and stay in the thick of things as the season draws to a close.
The Spurs however aren’t the only London club to have turned heads this season. West Ham United are working wonders when it comes to grinding out wins and killing off games against the best in the division. An incredible record against the top teams in the league, this season has helped the neutral fans witness the raw unpredictable nature of the English game.
Their last season at Upton Park was bound to be emotional and the team have given the fans just that. A move to the London Olympic Stadium will give them a huge platform to establish themselves as the best in the division but the plan was to go into the transition in a strong position and it’s safe to say that they have exceeded all expectations. They’ve beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea in a single season for the first time ever in their club history and are still going strong.
West Ham have two things that other Premier League clubs are to be jealous of. First is the tenacity with which their players attack the ball, especially in the air. They’ve won the most headers and have the most headed shots on target this season. Second is, well, Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman is by far the signing of the season and is their chief puppeteer. His energy is unmatched and on his day he becomes unplayable.
As things pan out, West Ham are a direct threat to Manchester City in the race to the top four and it would be no surprise if they finish above both the Manchester clubs. They’ve already achieved more than they planned to but a top four finish could be the start of a new era for the club.