As the international break returns it gives football fans a chance to pause following a chaotic start to the Premier League season, one that has included shocks, surprises and plenty of goals.
Liverpool once again looked like the team to beat after racking up three consecutive victories to open the season, but the champion’s hopes of heading into the break with a perfect record were ended following that stunning defeat at Aston Villa – a result which has flipped the division on its head.
Never before have the Premier League champions been dismantled in such surprising fashion as the Reds were hit for SEVEN on an unforgettable night at Villa Park, this season promising to be as open as ever with more twists and turns expected in the coming months.
Following a weekend of results that shocked the division, we’ve decided to look at the sides who will be most pleased with their starts following a chaotic campaign to date.
Here are six Premier League clubs who’ll be delighted with their starts to the season:
The headline makers pre-international break, Aston Villa‘s thumping of Liverpool was the statement scoreline of an impressive start to the season for Dean Smith’s side.
Villa avoided relegation by the narrowest of margins last season after surviving on the final day of the campaign, but their ambitious owners have once again backed their manager with investment over the summer.
Last season’s approach to the transfer market proved scattergun as Villa looked to address a squad without the depth to survive a Premier League season, though their retaining of top-flight status allowed for a more calculated approach this time around.
Smith has largely opted for proven and emerging British-based talents with the signings of Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash and Emiliano Martinez all impressing to date, whilst the capture of Ross Barkley on a season-long loan deal looks a coup on the evidence of the midfielder’s debut display.
It’s now three wins from three after a hard-fought win over Sheffield United was followed by a comfortable victory at Fulham and their thrashing of the champions, Villa looking upwards this season as the club look to get back to where they feel they belong.
West Ham seemed in danger of imploding following a difficult off-season and first fixture of the season, the fans having once again voiced their frustrations at the club’s ownership following yet more false promises from the Hammers’ hierarchy.
The sale of academy graduate Grady Diangana and a lack of subsequent investment has sparked outrage, before a dismal display in losing to Newcastle at the London Stadium only intensified the toxic atmosphere following their season opener.
Since then, however, it has been largely positive for David Moyes’ side and after being unfortunate to lose at Arsenal they have responded with two hugely impressive victories, making a mockery of a difficult-looking run of fixtures with resounding wins against both Wolves and Leicester.
Wolves were thrashed 4-0 in the capital with Jarrod Bowen scoring twice, the effervescent winger again finding the net during a shock 3-0 win at previously unbeaten Leicester and starring alongside the likes of Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals.
Moyes – despite being absent for both victories due to quarantine measures – will be delighted with his side’s response and confidence is sure to be flowing through the West Ham side at present, their manager having spoken of his determination to build a side possessing youth, hunger and ambition.
Speculation persists that West Ham may dip into the domestic market to strengthen before the window closes and Moyes, who has recruited well with his limited funds since returning to the club, will hope to find more players of a similar profile.
Leeds’ long-awaited return to the big time has not disappointed their loyal support following a solid start to life back in the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa’s side sitting eighth in the division after bouncing back from an opening defeat with a three-game unbeaten run.
The newly-promoted side were largely praised following an entertaining 4-3 loss at champions Liverpool, before responding with a 4-3 victory of their own against Fulham and a late win at Sheffield United.
Another hugely encouraging display followed as the spoils were shared with Manchester City at Elland Road, the clash between Pep Guardiola and mentor Bielsa predictably resulting in an enthralling contest between the two sides.
Leeds have already shown they can mix it with any side in the division and will be delighted with their return of seven points after facing each of last season’s top two, few predicting a season of struggle for Bielsa’s side following a seamless return to the highest level.
That their positive start has come by playing an exciting brand of attacking football only adds to their appeal, Leeds a more than welcome addition to the Premier League this season.
Last weekend’s home thumping by West Ham was one of a number of surprise results in the campaign to date but it should not detract from an otherwise impressive season for Leicester and Brendan Rodgers, who look well equipped to challenge the division’s leading sides once more after agonisingly falling short of Champions League qualification last season.
The goals have flowed freely for the Foxes to date with high-scoring victories over West Brom and Burnley to open the season, before a stunning 5-2 upset of Manchester City as Jamie Vardy helped himself to a hat-trick at the Etihad.
Leicester have kept the nucleus of last season’s side together and added well in the transfer market with the addition of Timothy Castagne already looking like fine business, their squad well balanced and talented with scope to improve further.
Much of their success this season is likely to depend on the evergreen talents of Jamie Vardy with a lack of reliable cover for the forward, though Harvey Barnes has begun the new season brightly to force his way into the England squad for the first time.
Rodgers’ side face fellow high-flyers Aston Villa next weekend before a trip to Arsenal, two challenging fixtures for the Foxes as they bid to build on an impressive start to the season.
Arsenal currently sit in the division’s top four after three wins from their first four fixtures, their position in the Champions League places one the club will no doubt be looking to maintain throughout the season.
Mikel Arteta has overseen progress with the north London side and more importantly a change in both mentality and atmosphere, the current Arsenal side showing a resilience not often displayed in recent campaigns.
There remains significant work to do, of course, as their defeat at Liverpool testified, but Arteta will no doubt be pleased with a start to the season that has delivered wins over Fulham, West Ham and Sheffield United, the Gunners having already secured victories when not at their best in the early weeks of the campaign.
Thomas Partey’s deadline day arrival from Atletico Madrid is a major boost and the midfielder looks a player tailor-made for the demands of English football, the Ghana international set to provide an authoritative and dynamic presence in the engine room.
Arsenal fans will be keen not to get carried away despite their bright start, but they look well positioned to finally return to the Champions League following a four-year absence.
There could hardly be a more buoyant mood around Everton and their new-look side at present, the Toffees sitting top of the division with a perfect record after four fixtures.
Everton’s hierarchy have backed Carlo Ancelotti with some key signings in crucial areas, the signings of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure having overhauled a previously powder-puff midfield with the duo offering energy, work-rate and assurance for the club’s forward line.
Those attacking options have been added to by the brilliant James Rodriguez, the free transfer signing of the Colombia international – regarded as somewhat of a gamble by many – already looking like the bargain of the season.
Rodriguez has long been an elite talent, but seems to be enjoying his football once more following a frustrating period on the periphery at both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, working in tandem with fellow South American Richarlison and the ever-improving Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The latter is the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer and has nine goals in just six appearances in all competitions this season, in addition to netting on his senior England debut against Wales this week.
Confidence is oozing at Everton at present and the club next face a stern test of their credentials against rivals and champions Liverpool following the international break, Ancelotti looking to become the first Blues boss in over a decade to secure a league victory over their city rivals.