Although we can’t read anything into predictions at the start of the season, not many pundits thought that the three newly promoted teams would do incredibly well.
Many thought that the behind the scenes action at Newcastle would end with Rafa Benitez leaving the club, while the lack of Premier League experience that Brighton and Huddersfield have would put them in a lot of trouble.
Yet, all three so far have performed above expectations!
I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about at Newcastle at the start of the season.
Many thought that the relationship between Mike Ashley and Benitez would end with the Spaniard leaving Tyneside. But if that was the problem, Benitez would have left last season, yet he stayed and guided Newcastle to promotion from the Championship.
They also had a difficult start to the season against an incredibly organised Tottenham side and a Huddersfield team that showed no fear.
Although they suffered defeats in both of those games, along with a surprise defeat to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup, the Magpies have done well.
They went on to win games against West Ham, Swansea and Stoke, to steady the ship, before suffering a loss to Brighton last week.
The shining light in the team so far this season has been Jamaal Lascelles.
It was a surprise to most people that he didn’t start the first game of the season, but ever since then, he’s gone from strength to strength.
Not only is his defensive work tenacious and brave, he provides a lot of danger when it comes to set pieces, and he’s a natural born leader, something Newcastle lack a little bit, and it’s a surprise to me that Lascelles has not made the latest England squad.
A weakness with Newcastle could be, that if Lascelles gets injured, there is no real leader on the pitch.
The likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Ciaran Clark can do a job, but it’s just not enough.
Newcastle have done well so far, and with the experience that Rafa Benitez has of the Premier League, I expect them to go get stronger as the season goes on, and I’m sure they will finish comfortably in around mid-table, pushing for the top-half.
Brighton & Hove Albion
The Seagulls had a tough start to the season.
Starting off with Manchester City at home and then Leicester away. Although they lost both, it was clear to see what Chris Hughton is trying to do with his team.
There are always two clear banks of four, who all communicate well together and know exactly when to move across, drop back or push forward, and it’s a very good achievement to restrict Manchester City to only two goals in a game, something that established Premier League team like Crystal Palace, Watford and Liverpool have failed to do.
Ever since the Leicester game, Brighton have been getting a lot more confident. They were unlucky to draw against Watford, before putting in an impressive performance against a defensively sound team in West Brom. They were again unfortunate to lose to Bournemouth and played well against Newcastle last week.
Pascal Groß has performed very well on the South coast.
The German was coming off a very good season for relegated Ingolstadt in the Bundesliga last season. Groß created the highest number of chances in the Bundesliga last season and it seems he’s carried on that form for Brighton.
His movement and vision has been key to how Brighton can open up defences so far this season, and the understanding he has with his team mates will only get better, and he will be a very difficult man to stop in the Premier League.
In terms of negatives, I don’t personally think Brighton have a striker that they can rely to get goals game after game. They seem to rotate a lot between Tomer Hemed, Glenn Murray and Izzy Brown up front.
If one of them start performing well and puts their chances away, Brighton should be safe this season, especially after seeing the performances of other established Premier League teams.
Undoubtedly, the surprise package of the season so far.
We all predicted Huddersfield would struggle from game one of the season, and would be left to rot in the relegation zone, before a swift return to the Championship, but that hasn’t happened so far.
David Wagner has kept to what he knows, and kept with the high pressing style of football he used at Dortmund’s U-23’s and with Huddersfield in the Championship, and it’s worked very well for them so far this season.
The Terriers have only suffered one loss this season, and a disappointing one away at struggling West Ham. The rest of their performances have been very good, with victories against Crystal Palace and Newcastle, followed by draws against Southampton, Leicester and Burnley.
The entire Huddersfield squad have done incredibly well, but the stand out performer has to be Aaron Mooy.
Huddersfield signed the Australian permanently from Manchester City this summer, and he’s wasted no time in repaying his fee, with brilliant performances, in particular against Newcastle.
But Mooy isn’t the only one, the defence has been solid. The likes of Jørgensen and Schindler have performed well, with Schindler being touted as a future German international.
Jonas Lössl has also done well. After being voted the worst goalkeeper in the Bundesliga last season for Mainz, he’s managed to turn the tide to become a solid goalkeeper in the Premier League.
The only thing I’d say about Huddersfield, is that they haven’t had a proper test yet, though that it set to change this month, as they play Tottenham, Swansea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
If the Terriers come out of those games unscathed, survival will become a real possibility, and if they survive, it would be up there in terms of achievements with Leicester winning the Premier League.
All the promoted teams have performed very well and have proved the doubters wrong.
If they continue to perform the way they have done already, and tweak a couple of minor issues throughout the season, I’m very confident that all three teams can survive this season.
Written by Sion Misra
Follow Sion on Twitter @sionmisra
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