English Premier League: Two of League's Hottest Clubs Face off Saturday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 29, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Marouane Fellaini of Everton celebrates with team mate Phil Jagielka at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on August 20, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The start of the English Premier League season has brought many surprises already.

Two of those surprises are clubs who are off to excellent starts.

Those two clubs are Everton and West Brom, and the two will face off on Saturday at The Hawthorns. West Brom, who are the hosts on Saturday, have responded well to new manager Steve Clarke.

Clarke, who previously spent time as an assistant at Chelsea and Liverpool, is in his first season as a club's manager.

The institution of a more offensive formation provided the spark that the Baggies needed. In the club's first match of the season, it surprised everyone by beating Liverpool 3-0.

Last weekend, the Baggies displayed a never-give-up attitude on the road and earned a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

One player who has stood out in the first two matches is Romelu Lukaku, the 19-year-old Belgian who is on loan at the club from Chelsea. Lukaku's physical presence up front has given opposing defenses a fit each time he has come on to the pitch as a substitute.

Now, the question for Clarke is if he will start Lukaku ahead of experienced forwards Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie.

West Brom are not just impressing others with their attacking players, their defense has quietly started off the season very well. The back four of Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley, Steven Reid and Liam Ridgewell have held two of the EPL's top clubs to just one goal in 180 minutes of play so far this season.

Add goalkeeper Ben Foster into that equation and the Baggies have a back line that right now have a ton of confidence and believe that they can hold any opponent to a clean sheet.

As for the visitors in Saturday's match, Everton have bucked their trend of recent seasons and have begun the season with positive results.

Everton are traditionally a club that thrives in the second half of the season, but David Moyes' club is trying desperately for that not to happen this season.

After their first two matches, there is reason to believe that the Toffees will be able to perform well in the first half of the season for once.

The Toffees opened their season at home and pulled off a shock of their own with a 1-0 win over Manchester United.

The shock win over United was followed by a 3-1 victory over a struggling Aston Villa club.

Everton are being powered by their own star Belgian player in Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini has been a dominant force in the first two matches, scoring two goals, one of which was the game-winner against United.

Two other driving forces in the attack for the Toffees have been Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic, who have both made a huge impact in the starting lineup under Moyes.

Pienaar, who rejoined the club permanently from Tottenham, has been one of the EPL's best midfielders early on this season.

Jelavic made an instant impact after moving to the Merseyside club from Rangers in January and has continued his good run of form into this season with two goals in two matches.

Just like their Saturday opponents, Everton have a strong back line led by keeper Tim Howard.

The American put on a spectacular display of goalkeeping in the first game of the season and barely had to do anything on the road at Villa Park last week.

Saturday's match at The Hawthorns should be a thrilling one featuring two streaking clubs looking to keep a spot in the top-four for a good amount of time.

Time will tell if both clubs are for real, but at this juncture in the season this matchup gives fans of both clubs a chance to see a quality football match and a possible preview of the fight for the final European spot at the end of the season.