Underperformers & Overachievers Premier League 2023
Premier League 2023 Underperformers And Overachievers So Far
The opening weeks of the new Premier League season served up a customary blend of drama, excitement and controversy. We have already witnessed wondergoals, red cards, VAR debacles and the obligatory Erling Haaland hat-trick. The two-week international break provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the action thus far, and to assess which teams have exceeded expectations or underperformed. These are the biggest overachievers and underachievers in the first month of the 2023/24 campaign:
Hammers fans may have approached the season with a vague sense of trepidation after talismanic captain Declan Rice left for Arsenal. He was instrumental in steering them to safety in a fierce relegation battle last term, and he left a gaping hole in the West Ham midfield. However, David Moyes¿ men have rediscovered the form that saw them finish sixth in 2021 and seventh in 2022, suggesting that last season¿s 14th-place finish may be a mere blip.
They have reinvested Rice¿s transfer fee wisely, bolstering the midfield with Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse and Ajax duo Edson Álvarez and Mohammed Kudus. You could argue that those transfers have left West Ham in a strong position this time around. Holding onto Lucas Paquetá has also helped, as he has been tremendous in the opening weeks of the campaign. West Ham could only draw with Bournemouth in their first game, but they have since rattled off consecutive wins against Chelsea, Brighton and Luton, and they now sit level with Arsenal on 10 points apiece near the top of the table.
A sense of grim foreboding also lingered over the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this summer. The team finished eight last term, their lowest position since 2009, and record goalscorer Harry Kane then moved to Bayern Munich. However, the arrival of Big Ange Postecoglou has revitalised this flagging squad.
Spurs played dour, stolid football under both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, so Postecoglou¿s bold, attacking approach has been a breath of fresh air. Son Heung-Min showed that he remains a world-class talent, while James Maddison has settled in nicely too. Tottenham have banged in 11 goals in four games, which suggests that they may not miss Kane too badly after all. There are some concerns over the defence, but Spurs remain unbeaten, and they currently sit second in the standings.
The Seagulls continuously defied expectations en route to secure a sixth-place finish in the Premier League table last season. That inevitably attracted the attention of the big boys, and they swarmed the club like vultures in the summer. Liverpool snapped up Alexis Mac Allister, while Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Moisés Caicedo, which completely dismantled Brighton¿s midfield. Yet Roberto De Zerbi ¿ their unflappable manager ¿ simply shrugged off those departures. He has started the season with Billy Gilmour alongside Pascal Groß in midfield, and the Seagulls look even more menacing than they did last season.
The defenders are perhaps not afforded as much protection as they enjoyed on Caicedo¿s watch, but Gilmour and Groß have compensated by effortlessly feeding the forwards. And what a collection of forwards De Zerbi now has at his disposal, with Barcelona prodigy Ansu Fati joining on loan to compete with Kaoru Mitoma, Solly March, new signing João Pedro, Evan Ferguson and Danny Welbeck for a starting berth. The 3-1 defeat to West Ham was a little concerning, but Brighton eased to victories over Newcastle, Wolves and Luton. They are the top-scoring team in the division, they sit sixth in the standings and Mac Allister and Caicedo are already a distant memory.
Palace have also come flying out of the blocks this season. Their opener at Bramall Lane was a potential banana-skin, but the Eagles emerged with a thoroughly deserved victory. They were a little unfortunate to lose to Arsenal in their second game, but they have since battled to a creditable draw away at Brentford and beaten Wolves 3-2, leaving them seventh in the table.
Once again, they have seemingly been unaffected by their star player leaving in the summer. Wilfried Zaha carried the team at times during his Palace career, but he has now left in a bid to secure silverware with Galatasaray in Turkey. He will be missed, but he had probably been surpassed by Eberechi Eze in terms of influence and attacking threat anyway. Eze finished last season in superb form, and he has picked up where he left off. He recently secured his first England cap, and Palace fans will be pleased that Man City were unsuccessful with their £60 million deadline day bid for him.
Nouveau riche Newcastle finished fourth in the table last season after splashing the cash following the Saudi takeover. They strengthened once again in the summer, snapping up Sandro Tonali from AC Milan, Harvey Barnes from Leicester and Tino Livramento from Southampton in preparation for their first Champions League campaign in two decades. As such, they were among the pre-season favourites for a top-four finish in the football spread betting odds.
They made a superb start to the season, thrashing Aston Villa 5-1 at St. James¿ Park, but it has been downhill from there. There was no shame in losing 1-0 to Man City, the reigning European champions, but the Magpies will be disappointed by the nature of their 2-1 defeat to 10-man Liverpool. They were then comprehensively beaten by Brighton prior to the international break, leaving them 14th in the table. There are mitigating circumstances, as it was a tough fixture list, but Newcastle have undoubtedly underperformed so far.
Chelsea could only finish 12th in the table last season after a great deal of upheaval following Todd Boehly¿s takeover. It was their worst showing in the Premier League era, so the fans may have been hoping for a greater sense of stability under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. However, Chelsea¿s new owners have seemingly not learned their lesson.
Last season, Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard all struggled to forge an effective unit out of a bloated squad, which had been seriously disrupted by new arrivals and a raft of departures. Pochettino spoke of the need for a slimmed-down squad, but Chelsea set a new record by signing 11 new players for more than £400 million. Meanwhile, they offloaded 15 members of the squad, and only Thiago Silva, Reece James and Ben Chilwell are still standing from the team that won the Champions League in 2021. Pochettino has faced similar issues to his predecessors, and the Blues are stuck in 12th place after winning just one out of four games thus far.
Toffees boss Sean Dyche said that the club ¿can¿t be in this state¿ for much longer after helping them beat the drop last season. However, little has changed at Everton since then, and the Toffees find themselves marooned in the drop zone once again after taking just one point from their opening four matches. A draw with Sheff Utd last time out was relatively encouraging, but they looked lacklustre when losing to Fulham, Aston Villa and Wolves.
They also barely scraped a 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers, who are rock bottom of League Two, in the EFL Cup. Everton will have to hope for big things from new forwards Beto and Arnaut Danjuma, as the Toffees failed to score in their first three games of the season. They remain among the favourites in the Premier League spread betting relegation markets, and it could be another long campaign for their fans.
The Clarets will be bitterly disappointed to begin the campaign with three defeats from three games. They won the Championship at a canter last season, and the fans will have hoped to see them carry that momentum into the new campaign. However, they lost 3-0 to Man City, 3-1 to Aston and 5-2 to Spurs, leaving them with the worst defensive record in the division so far. They are now firmly in the mix in our relegation football spread betting markets.
The international break may have come at the right time for manager Vincent Kompany, who must now prepare for a tough run of games. They will face in-form Nottingham Forest, Man Utd, Newcastle and Chelsea in their next four matches, and they need to start picking up points quickly. To be fair, they have played pretty well so far, and City, Villa and Spurs are all quality teams, so Kompany may not be too disheartened as he prepares for the next round of fixtures.