This time last year, Yahoo sports writer Harry Bushnell wrote a piece that asked whether any teams in the Premier League could break up the big six. Aside from some honorable mentions for certain mid-table clubs, his answer was, in short, “probably not.” So it proved to be. Despite Manchester United’s disastrous start and mediocre finish to the season, they still finished nine points clear of the best of the rest.
Bushnell’s predictions were echoed in the pre-season odds from the bookmakers, which showed a gulf as wide as Pep Guardiolo’s smile between the top six and the chasing pack. However, take a look at Unibet’s predictions for the coming year, and it is another matter. Sure, anyone outside the top six is still at a minimum 150/1 to win the thing, but there are nine teams at short odds to finish in the top six. The big six of City, United, Liverpool, Tottenham Arsenal and Chelsea have traditionally been seen as a foregone conclusion. So who are the three Premier League disruptors? And do they really stand a chance of breaking up the old order?
Here we have the most decorated unit outside the top six, and a team that constantly promises to take that next step. Could this be the season it really happens? If anyone can turn the undeniable talent within the Everton squad into a cohesive, consistently winning side, Marco Silva is that man. The tools are there at his disposal. Michael Keane finally started to adopt that reassuring air of composure last year, while in the midfield, Gylfi Sigurdsson looked as good as anyone. Up front, Richarlison could be a genuine superstar in the making.
Everton succeeded in brushing both the Gunners and United aside with relative ease in the latter part of last season, and if they can start the new campaign in a similar vein, they could be a match for (almost) anyone. Unibet are quoting 7/2 for a top six finish, or 16/1 for them to make it into the top four.
The neutral observers immediately adopted Wolves as “their” team last year, and looked on in fascination as the Premier League new boys proved they had the heart and talent to take on anyone. They finished best of the rest in seventh, and are strongly fancied to go better still in the campaign ahead, particularly given the fact that both United and Arsenal are looking to be in a state of disarray.
Who would bet against them? They are at the same odds as Everton to change the established order of things next season, and for many, are an even better shot.
After the fairytale ending to the 2015/16 season, nobody dares underestimate Leicester. They know all about defying the odds, and will laugh in the face of the 250/1 being offered to those who think they can win again. After all, four years ago, they were at 5000/1 pre season.
In the likes of James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi and Ben Chilwell, the Foxes have some top notch talent at their disposal. Combine that with blistering pace, and complete belief in themselves, and you have a team where the fans know that anything is possible.