Premier League 2019/20: 3 clubs who could gatecrash the top six
After a brief summer break, another season of Premier League football is underway, with 20 clubs set to battle it out for supremacy and glory over the next nine months.
The Premier League is by far the most commercially viable and globally appealing football league in the world, and fans from all corners of the planet tune in every week to follow their favorite clubs and players.
In life, there are different classes and strata, and disparities in historical significance and financial strength means there are cadres of football clubs, with some within their rights to contest for every trophy available and others content to just maintain their top-flight status.
In the Premier League, there are different grades of teams, with the very elite ones occupying a hallowed chamber collectively known as the top six.
Some years ago, four clubs had a significant advantage over the rest of the league, and these clubs generally occupied the top four spots, leading to the christening of the term 'top four.'
Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal ruled the land back then, but improved displays by Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in recent years upset the status quo.
Together, these six teams are generally stronger than the rest of the league, and while there are still subdivisions within this elite class, the remaining 14 clubs can only look on in envy and battle it out for the remaining scraps on offer.
The first weekend of the 27th Premier League season showed that not much has changed since last season, with Manchester City still being the benchmark.
Tottenham and Arsenal also impressed, while Manchester United totally decimated Chelsea at Old Trafford.
However, even in victory, questions were still raised about United's performance, while the effects of Chelsea's inactivity in the transfer market were laid bare.
This season could see the pecking order usurped, and there are a number of clubs waiting in the wings to take advantage of any slip-ups.
In this piece, we shall be highlighting three clubs who could gatecrash the top six come the end of the season.
#3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Having triumphed in the 2017/18 Championship at a canter, Wolves returned to the Premier League for the first time since their 2012 relegation, and given the steep increase in class between the second division and elite level, fans would have been content with just a mid-table finish or indeed just avoiding the drop.
However, quite surprisingly, the West Midlands club totally overachieved, finishing in an unbelievable seventh position to secure European football for the first time in 39 years.
There were also impressive results along the way, including a draw against the winning machine that is Manchester City and wins against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Their success was founded on a core of vibrant players, with Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty, Willy Boly and Raul Jimenez among those who impressed the most, while head coach Nuno Espirito Santo also wowed with his tactical dexterity.
Wolves impressively toppled Manchester City to win the Premier League Asia trophy, and that would give them renewed confidence heading into next season.
The core of last season's overachieving squad remains intact, and fans would expect more of the same. However, the grueling nature of the Europa League could have an impact on Wolves' trajectory this season.