With four games of the season gone, one could be easily forgiven for predicting a final top four of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal - such is their long-term dominance of the division.
The Premier League’s title challengers comfortably finished in the Champions League spots last season, leaving rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool some six and eight points behind.
Moreover, the so-called big boys have heavily invested this summer, with a combined total outlay exceeding the £250 million mark - and that’s despite Arsenal’s lack of activity.
However, the top four paints quite a different picture at this early stage of the season, with Crystal Palace and Leicester City sat in second and third place respectively – an excellent achievement.
Surely this is a huge surprise, isn't it? Well, taking into account the form of the Foxes and Eagles stretching back to the turn of the year, it’s actually not that surprising at all as they have actually managed to maintain their form.
|Games Won in 2015||Appearances|
As per the table provided by Opta stats above, only Manchester City and Arsenal have won more Premier League games than Palace throughout 2015, with the Eagles winning 13 of 23 matches.
Alan Pardew has done an amazing job at Selhurst Park since joining the club from Newcastle United, and additions such as Yohan Cabaye and Bakary Sako illustrate the club’s ambition and appeal.
A top eight position is now a realistic target for Palace, and they could even be joined there by Leicester City, as they have also proved their early season form is no fluke.
The Foxes finally clicked towards the end of last season, winning seven of their last nine Premier League matches and scoring a whopping 19 goals – bettered only by Manchester City.
Claudio Ranieri has seemingly added to the foundations set by Nigel Pearson and as per the table below, dated since the New year, it’s no real coincidence to see them continue to find the net with such regularity.
|Goals in 2015||Appearances|
While both clubs will probably drop off the pace in the coming months, don’t rule out a top eight finish for either side as they look every bit as good as their current form suggests.