Palace and Leicester excel

It is hard to imagine anyone could have predicted that eight games into the season the Premier League table would look as it does. Chelsea are flirting with the relegation zone, Liverpool and Tottenham are floundering around tenth place, and perhaps most surprisingly Crystal Palace and Leicester are competing for fourth place.

Both teams have had an undeniably strong start to the campaign. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy is the league’s top goal scorer having netted seven times in eight games. Only Manchester City have managed to score more than the Foxes, although Leicester have conceded 15 goals. Palace have impressively only conceded seven times so far this season, and have the same goal difference as Manchester United.

So, what is the secret to their success? It is interesting to note that Leicester and Palace are the two worst ranked teams in the league for both passes per game and possession. Yet both have been consistently turning out good results.

It seems to come down to effective counter-attacking football and pacey players. It is not particularly ground-breaking, but both teams have been utilising their fastest players to full effect. Away from home, counter-attacking football has normally been the preferred method for lower league teams. Protect your goal at all costs, and attack in numbers when the chances arise. However, as it becomes more ‘in vogue’ for bigger teams to retain possession, even those who do not necessarily have the squad to do so, it becomes easier to regain possession of the ball and counter-attack. Pair that with players who are working hard, consistently scoring and are fast enough to break quickly and you have a winning formula. As long as the results are good, fans will likely prefer substance over ‘style’.

It is also important to factor in that teams who would normally be competing for fourth and fifth place have not been performing effectively. Liverpool have had an incredibly average start to the season, and Chelsea are yet to find their feet.

Both Leicester and Palace are also predominantly left alone by fear mongering sceptics. If a big team slips up, it is immediately labelled a crisis. Leicester were battered five-two by Arsenal, no one was overly surprised and they bounced back and beat Norwich away the following weekend.

Of course, the league table may look completely different in May, but eventually you would expect the bigger teams to step up their game. However, we were saying as much last year, and Palace managed to finish in an unlikely tenth place. But everyone loves a good underdog story, and every dog has its day.


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August 2022
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