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Biggest surprise PL teams this season

Sheffield United v Leicester City - Premier League

Jamie Vardy taunts the Sheffield fans after scoring Leicester Citys first goal during English Premier League between Sheffield United and Leicester City at Bramall Lane Ground, Sheffield, England on 24 August 2019 (Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Which team have been the biggest surprise packages in the Premier League this season?

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With the first-ever PL winter break kicking in, now seemed like a good time to reflect on the first two thirds of the season and discuss which teams have surprised us so far, in a positive way.

Here’s a look at four teams who have exceeded expectations, so far.

Sheffield United: 6th place, 36 points

Sheffield United v West Ham United - Premier League

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates with his team after he scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and West Ham United at Bramall Lane on January 10, 2020 in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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Chris Wilder’s Blades are the biggest surprise of the season in the Premier League. Period. Nobody expected this from the newly promoted side as they are in with a serious chance of qualifying for Europe. Their 3-5-2 formation with overlapping center backs and deep central midfielders bamboozles opponents and the Blades fans are in dreamland. With Wilder a lifelong fan, there is an incredible connection as he’s lead them from League One to the top six in the Premier League playing pretty much the same way and plenty of the players have been around for their journey back to the top-flight. Some of the signings they’ve made before and during the season have been masterstrokes and if European nights arrive in the Steel City next season. Bramall Lane will be rocking. Plenty of new boys are high in confidence early in the season then drop off but Sheffield United have been consistently excellent. They have only lost twice away from home all season long and those defeats came at Man City and Liverpool, the top two.

Leicester City: 3rd, 49 points


SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Jamie Vardy of Leicster City celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal with Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Leicester City at St Mary’s Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

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The Foxes have struggled a little in recent weeks but Brendan Rodgers has built a superb young team which took the league by storm in the opening half of the campaign. They are out of the Premier League title race but for large spells of the season they looked like the only challengers to Liverpool. Still, with Jamie Vardy rolling back the years up top and the likes of Wilfried Ndidi, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans consistently brilliant in midfield, plus Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu superb in defense, they are worthy of a top four finish. With 13 games to go they have a 12-point lead over fifth place. It would take a monumental collapse for Leicester to not be in the Champions League next season. This is all as a result of smart decision making at all levels at the club. Rodgers is a brilliant manager, they have a great recruitment team and youngsters are choosing to sign for Leicester because there is a clear vision, playing style and philosophy.

Newcastle United: 12th, 31 points

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace - Premier League - St James' Park

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce shares a joke with Miguel Almiron after the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Hands up who had Newcastle going down at the start of the season? Most of you will have your hands raised. With Rafael Benitez out and Steve Bruce in, Newcastle’s fans were furious and even the fact that Mike Ashley spent a bit of money on Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin didn’t calm things down. Bruce’s Newcastle have been awful to watch all season long and in terms of expected goals they would be rock bottom of the Premier League table. They’re aren’t and that is because this isn’t Bruce’s first rodeo and he has his team playing to its strengths as they’ve beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Man United, plus drawn with Man City. They aren’t fun to watch but Newcastle sitting pretty in midtable at this point of the season, especially given all of the injuries they’ve had is a huge surprise.

Liverpool: 1st, 73 points


LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino after scoring his team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield on February 01, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Not so much a surprise but just utterly unbelievable. With 24 wins from their first 25 games, Jurgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten and are on course to shatter every single Premier League record for title winners. They have Arsenal’s unbeaten record of an entire campaign without a defeat in sight, and they are 42 league games unbeaten, which is closing in on Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run. The reigning European champions were supposed to gain confidence from winning the UEFA Champions League last season and missing out on the title by just one point but this has been ridiculous. Yes, we shouldn’t be surprised Liverpool will win the Premier League title but we should be surprised, and amazed, with how they are doing it.

Honorable mention:
Wolves: Have taken the next step with Traore and Jimenez superb in attack and they are in the Europa League last 32 and in the top four battle.
Chelsea: Frank Lampard’s youngsters started strongly but like Leicester they’ve hit a few speed bumps. In the UCL last 16 and in the top four. Very decent.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Graham Potter’s side play wonderful soccer and even though they’ve been dragged into a relegation battle, the way they play under Potter is a joy to watch.

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