The Premier League has long been considered one of the most competitive leagues in Europe. While the English clubs mig not have dominated the UEFA Champions League and Europa League as much as the likes of Real Madrid and Sevilla have, the level of competition within the league makes it a very fascinating watch.
One of the major factors that contribute to this excitement is the quality possessed by sides outside the traditional 'bix six' clubs of the land — Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Clubs such as Leicester City, Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham boast some of the best players in the country despite not being part of the biggest Premier League brands. The ever-increasing quality of the underdog sides makes the league a joy to watch for the neutrals, guaranteeing action-packed matches with drama and excitement.
On that note, here, we take a look at five of the best players in the Premier League who don't ply their trade for the traditional 'big six' clubs.
#5 Tomas Soucek | West Ham United
West Ham have undeniably been one of the biggest surprise packages of the season across Europe, let alone the Premier League. The Hammers have been brilliant and find themselves in fifth place in the table with five games to go. Much of this success has to do with their formidable midfield, which includes Tomas Soucek.
The Czech international has been one of the finds of the season so far. At 6'4", he's been a menace in both attack and defence this campaign and has added a layer of steel to the West Ham midfield. Soucek has covered every blade of grass for David Moyes' side and is their joint-highest scorer with nine goals, along with Jesse Lingard.
At 26 years of age, Soucek already appears to be worth every single bit of the £16m West Ham paid for him, and could only continue to get better. Jose Mourinho famously claimed that Moyes found his Marouane Fellaini in Soucek, and the Czech star could go on to do even better than the Belgian for the Scot.
#4 Ollie Watkins | Aston Villa
For a side that barely managed to survive in the top flight last season, Aston Villa have done a remarkable job so far this year as they're on course for a top-half finish. While there are many reasons for this resurgence, one of the main ones is the introduction of Ollie Watkins. The speedy forward has formed a phenomenal partnership with Jack Grealish and has run Premier League defences ragged this year.
The English striker has been a sensational addition to Villa and the Premier League as he's scored 14 goals and set up four more for the Birmingham club across all competitions. Villa broke their transfer record to sign Watkins from Brentford for £28m, and his performances this season have shown why they chose to place their faith in him.
His rise to prominence was also rewarded by Gareth Southgate, who handed Watkins his debut for England and the 25-year-old scored after coming on with his first shot on target. Truly a campaign to remember for the Aston Villa star.