With eight weeks of this new Premier League season behind us and yet another international break drawing to a close, now is the perfect time to take stock of everything that has happened thus far. At this stage of proceedings, they say that the table begins to stop lying and it becomes a truer measure of who will finish where. Although current placings in the league ladder tell part of the story, they do lack the context of pre-season expectations. Therefore, by comparing our pre-season predictions to where the 20 teams currently find themselves, we can get a better idea of who the biggest Premier League overachievers and underachievers are so far.
Aston Villa – Predicted 18th, Current 6th
Aston Villa have undoubtedly been the biggest success story in these first two months of the season compared to pre-season expectations. Amazingly, even though Dean Smith finds his side in the top half-dozen of the table, one must not forget that the West Midlands outfit still have a game in hand, putting them clear top of our Premier League overachievers
It’s a game in hand, that would take them to the top of the table at the moment and, although that looks slightly unlikely, it would further solidify the turnaround that has been carried out at Villa Park.
After only clinching survival on the final day of last season, this group of players may be able to draw inspiration from Leicester and after they made their own great escape back in 2014/15, we all know what happened just 12 months later.
Leicester – Predicted 8th, Current 1st
That leads us nicely onto number two in our Premier League overachievers so far this season. With Leicester sitting top of the shop at the November hiatus, there is certainly no sign of the Foxes feeling sorry for themselves after fluffing their Champions League lines last season.
To miss out on a top four finish after being comfortably third for what seemed like eternity, would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the likes of Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel. Then again, if they have taken their medicine, it has certainly made them stronger in recent times.
The table toppers currently possess a shot conversion rate of 24% and this means they are converting nearly one in four of all their attacking efforts. They may not create as much as their counterparts, but they certainly don’t waste their endeavour either.
Sheffield United – Predicted 14th, Current 20th
The Blades have certainly lost their sharpness and although it would be rather easy to proclaim the cliché ‘Second Season Syndrome’, it does look like Chris Wilder’s men are starting to show some unwanted symptoms.
Whereas last season this team was the blueprint in terms of how to build a defensive bedrock, those same qualities have seemingly deserted them this time around and with 14 goals already breaching their net, this is a team that certainly looks susceptible.
A lot of that will be down to Dean Henderson’s return to Old Trafford and, although Aaron Ramsdale has offered a noble effort in between the sticks, he and the men who are tasked with patrolling in front of him are not performing to the same levels of 12 months ago. Perhaps harsh to call them underachievers given their limited resources but, in terms of what they achieved last season, it’s been a huge dip.
Arsenal – Predicted 5th, Current 11th
A case of one step forward and two steps back for Arsenal and if we are all meant to be trusting the process that Mikel Arteta is trying to put in place, there are signs that the former Manchester City assistant still has plenty of kinks to iron out first.
Impressive against Manchester United, woeful against Aston Villa. That’s been Arsenal’s season in a microcosm, and it is this inconsistency that threatens to stop the Gunners from gaining any real traction under their current manager.
Not to mention that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has gone completely off the boil since signing his new contract and although it would be unfair to suggest that he has got his feet under the Emirates table, just one goal since inking a new deal will be of huge concern.
Manchester United – Predicted 4th, Current 14th and Manchester City – Predicted 1st, Current 10th
With the two Manchester outfits both having a game in hand, we should cut them a little slack when looking at their current league positions. Then again, on the early evidence that they have submitted, that’s not a great deal to suggest rapid change on the horizon and they have both definitely been huge underachievers by their own lofty standards so far.
For United, it is a case of the players once again removing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s head from the chopping block when it matters and although the former Norwegian international is safe for now, you get the feeling a similar situation regarding his employment will present itself in a month or two.
While for crosstown rivals City, they are yet to find a genuine ignition spark and although Pep Guardiola has undoubted talent at his disposal, there is a sense that his Etihad superstars are only treading water right now. Something that will have to change if their title tilt is to be a genuine one.
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