Every Premier League season seems to throw up some surprises when it comes to clubs over or underachieving, and thus far, 2019-20 has been no different. While the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have almost certainly underachieved, the opposite has certainly been true for a handful of other sides.
The following 3 teams have gone over and above the expectations set for them before the season began last summer, and their fans will almost certainly be ecstatic because of it.
#1 Leicester City
Leicester City famously upset the apple cart by winning the Premier League title in 2015-16, but in the seasons that have followed that miraculous achievement, the Foxes haven’t really come close to bothering the higher end of the table.
After the arrival of former Liverpool and Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers in early 2019, Leicester fans had high hopes for their side coming into 2019-20 though, feeling that a possible European place could be up for grabs – with a Champions League slot being an unlikely but potential goal too. Well, 7 months into that season, the Foxes look likely to achieve way beyond that goal.
Rodgers’ side currently sit in 3rd place in the Premier League table with 49 points – 10 points ahead of 5th placed Sheffield United and 8 ahead of 4th placed Chelsea. They’re actually closer to second-placed Manchester City – who are just 2 points in front of them – than they are of dropping out of the Champions League spots.
More to the point, Leicester have also scored more goals than any side outside of the top two, and have conceded less than anyone but league leaders Liverpool and fellow surprise package Sheffield United too. It’d seemingly take a monumental collapse for them to miss the Champions League spots now, a huge achievement for a club like Leicester.
Essentially, the Foxes have enjoyed their best season since 2015-16, but while some fans expected that coming in, nobody could’ve seen their campaign going quite this well.
#2 Sheffield United
Undoubtedly the biggest surprise package of the 2019-20 edition of the Premier League has been Sheffield United. Chris Wilder’s team were only promoted from the EFL Championship last season, and while they were clearly one of that league’s best sides, given their lack of big-name stars and big money signings during the summer, most fans tipped them to suffer instant relegation.
That hasn’t been the case at all, though, as the Blades have stunned everyone with their rise up the table. Wilder’s side now sit in 5th place in the Premier League table, just 2 points away from a Champions League berth. They’ve lost just 7 games – and incredibly, just 2 of those losses have been away from Bramall Lane.
It’s true that the Blades haven’t been scoring many goals; their total of 28 is miles behind the other sides in the upper echelon of the table, with 6th placed Spurs scoring 12 more than them thus far, for instance, but their defence has been remarkably sturdy. Only Liverpool have conceded less than the Blades’ 24 goals thus far.
Given that their star players have included the likes of Billy Sharp, John Lundstram, John Fleck and Chris Basham – men who would usually be considered journeymen at best – it’s impossible to play down Wilder’s achievements in establishing the team in the Premier League this season. How long it can last is anyone’s guess, but for now, it’s best just to applaud.
It sounds strange to claim that the Premier League’s runaway leaders have overachieved this season, especially given that Liverpool finished as runners-up in 2018-19 and also won the Champions League, but let’s face it – nobody expected the Reds to do this well during the current campaign.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been simply unstoppable, rolling through game after game and somehow almost always coming out on top no matter what the situation. They’ve dropped just 2 points all season – drawing with Manchester United back in October – and outside of that, every team they’ve faced in Premier League action has come out on the losing end.
Along the way, Liverpool have scored 60 goals – with their highly-rated front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane being responsible for 33 of them – and have conceded just 15. They’ve been able to survive and even thrive without key players like Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Mane when they picked up injuries, and they’re somehow still in the FA Cup despite essentially playing their youth team in the competition.
Klopp’s men have proven their invincible mentality time after time – coming from behind to win on 3 occasions, with their victory over Aston Villa coming with 2 goals in the last 5 minutes – and only a fool would bet against them matching Arsenal’s achievement from 2003-04 and going the season unbeaten now.
Simply put, Liverpool have been a force of nature in 2019-20 – something nobody really saw coming last summer.