Why we should not be that surprised by the resurgence of Leicester and Watford

Both Leicester City and Watford have taken the league by storm and have plenty of festive cheer. But should we really be surprised?

Leicester City and Watford: The surprise packages of the Premier League this season. No one will have expected Leicester to be top of the table on Christmas Day following a season where they had to rally late on to maintain their status in the top flight.

And no one will have fancied Watford to be in contention for the Champions League or Europa League places approaching the halfway stage of the campaign after only being promoted from the Championship last season.

The reality is, in Watford's case, there is an example from the past where we should not be too surprised at their tilt at Europe. Although it is a fair while back now, the 2000/01 season saw George Burley's Ipswich Town side pushing the big boys and ultimately securing a spot in the UEFA Cup.

But the Hornets have a manager of more pedigree in Quique Sanchez Flores. After all, this is the man who led Atletico Madrid to glory in the Europa League - overcoming Liverpool and Fulham in the semi-final and final respectively - while also guiding them to the Copa Del Rey final in the same season. 

You may question his decision making as to where he went next as Al Ahli is hardly the greatest career move but it should not detract from his know-how, especially when he takes over a side with limited expectation as to what they can achieve from the start of the season.

Then there is Leicester, who appointed Claudio Ranieri as Nigel Pearson's successor. Many criticised the appointment of the Italian, citing a recent poor time of things managing the Greek national side, instead of seeing a man twice appointed by Valencia - and one who reached a Champions League final as well as finishing runners-up in the first season of the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea. 

Factor in also the Foxes being full of confidence from their survival bid and their no-nonsense approach from the start of the season as they took the game to sides and they have managed to build up a head of steam.

They made some shrewd additions in the summer by signing the likes of Gokkhan Inler and Christian Fuchs - both of whom have played for sides that have ambitions of challenging at the top of Serie A and the Bundesliga respectively. 

The same could be said of Watford's signings. Not many, if any, have arrived at the club with the mentality of fighting a relegation battle. That in itself gives a side fresh impetus to kick on, and the luck they needed was to gel quickly. Credit has to be given to their manager for that.

The only real surprise is the scale that the landscape may have shifted this season. No one expected the collapse in form that has been seen by Chelsea this season - costing Jose Mourinho his job at Stamford Bridge. Some of the bigger names in the league have either seen their manager come under pressure or have made the change already.

Of course, as the season goes on, things may 'normalise', but even if that is the case, there has always been a 'surprise' team that stood out early on. Last season it was Southampton, so we really should not be surprised this time round. Just applaud the top class football on display. 

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch