The Premier League drew to a close on Sunday afternoon and although it was not the most dramatic season, there were some major overachievers in 2014-15.
Ronald Koeman’s men were tipped for relegation by most at the beginning of the campaign but they will achieve Europa League qualification should Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final later this month. The Saints have been excellent all season and were in the top four for a few months before tailing off slightly towards the end. Their style of play was pleasing on the eye and only champions Chelsea had a superior defensive record.
2) Swansea City
The Swans gained the most points they have ever attained in the Premier League with 56 as Garry Monk’s side pushed Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all the way in the race for Europa League football. It was a fantastic season for the Welsh team who lost star striker Wilfried Bony for big money in January. He will need replacing if they are to match this year’s efforts in 2015-16.
3) Crystal Palace
Palace were lingering inside the bottom three of the table when Alan Pardew took charge at the club in early January. Fast forward a few months and the Eagles finished in the top half of the table for the first time in the Premier League era. It was a phenomenal achievement from a team who thrilled fans and neutrals alike, especially away from Selhurst Park, with their pacey counter-attacks.
4) Leicester City
At the start of April, Leicester City looked doomed. They were seven points from safety after losing to Spurs but after seven wins in their final nine games, the Foxes reached the magical 40-points mark and were safe with a game to spare. Nigel Pearson has worked wonders in the last couple of months, showing what sheer momentum can make you achieve. Their recent form has been amongst the best in Europe in recent weeks and a 14th-placed finish is fully deserved.
5) Stoke City
Mark Hughes’ men have gone about their job quietly but they finished in a healthy ninth position whilst playing a more stylish brand of football along the way. The Potters’ thumping 6-1 victory over Liverpool on the final day showed just how far they have come. Under Tony Pulis they were predominantly a long ball side but under Hughes they play much more attractive football whilst still being very tough to beat. Hats off to Stoke, they are well and truly established as a Premier League club.