Ranking the 10 Biggest Surprises of the Premier League Season Thus Far

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2012

Ranking the 10 Biggest Surprises of the Premier League Season Thus Far

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    Swansea City and West Brom are sitting second and third in the Premier League table. Liverpool are in the relegation zone, and Everton are way ahead of their neighbors. 

    The first three weeks of the 2012-2013 EPL season have been anything but ordinary. 

    From the results to the gaffes to the transfers, fans have been treated to plenty of shocks in the EPL's early goings, and if last year if anything to go by, the surprises will keep on coming. 

    What have been the biggest shocks in England so far? Read on to find out. 

Fernando Torres Really Is Back...for Now

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    Fernando Torres won the Euro 2012 Golden Boot this summer with Spain, but no one took that too seriously. He had a solid string of games last season with Chelsea but didn't score enough, so no one cared much. 

    Might be time to take notice.

    The once-prolific striker has scored two goals for Chelsea this season, and he's looked good doing it. With Didier Drogba gone, Torres knows he's the only choice for striker, and apparently, he got sick of everyone questioning him. 

    Torres still has it all to do if he wants to intimidate EPL defenders once again, and for the first time in almost two years, he looks ready to do it. 

Liverpool Pinch Pennies

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    Speaking of a frightening Fernando Torres, his old club Liverpool had a most curious summer transfer window, with the deadline day coming as the biggest shock of all. 

    After spending hundreds of millions of pounds with Kenny Dalglish, John Henry and Fenway Sports Group decided Brendan Rodgers will have to make do with what he's got at Anfield. Or a little less. 

    Charlie Adam was sent to Stoke City, Alberto Aquilani's EPL stint finally ended, and after saying he'd be a fool to let him go, Rodgers sent Andy Carroll to West Ham on a season-long loan.

    American Clint Dempsey was supposed to be a Liverpool player months ago, but after too much back and forth and a deadline-day bid of only £3 million for the 23-goal striker from last season, the Reds missed out. 

    With Liverpool already short on attacking power with Carroll, an injury could make Liverpool's awful start even worse. 

Manchester City Don't Need Fancy New Players

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    It doesn't seem like a transfer window without Manchester City spending buckets of money on hotshot players. Apparently, when you win the title in wild and dramatic fashion in the final minutes of the season, you don't need new players. 

    Of course, City did bring in Spanish midfielder Javi Garcia on the deadline day, but otherwise, they were very quiet in the transfer window. No big links, except to Robin van Persie for a time like everyone else; no big offers, nothing. 

    Roberto Mancini is content with his squad as is, and really, wouldn't you be?

Michael Owen Can't Keep Away

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    The 32-year-old Michael Owen still has some goals left in him, and he'll do anything to prove it. Which includes joining Stoke. 

    After eight bountiful years with Liverpool, one fine season at Real Madrid, four on Newcastle's injury table and two as Manchester United's official game tweeter, Owen is ready for one more round. 

    Tony Pulis' side is an odd choice for the former England striker though. At 5'8", he won't be very helpful on Rory Delap's long throws, but he might have a fun time linking up with another former Liverpool front man, Peter Crouch. 

Vito Mannone Won't Be Beaten

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    Arsenal's injury problems have started early this season, but so far, they haven't hurt them. 

    Third-choice keeper Vito Mannone has started the last two Premier League matches without allowing a goal, and the Gunners have kept three clean sheets overall as the only side that can boast that statistic. 

    Sure, they didn't score in their first two games either, but with all the defensive and especially goalkeeper problems Arsene Wenger has had in recent years, the early season stability has been a very nice surprise. 

Unreliable Pepe Reina

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    Brendan Rodgers knew about the goal-scoring problems he'd need to address when he took charge of Liverpool in the summer. No one told him about the goalkeeper though. 

    Pepe Reina has had a very shaky start to the season, and if you ask Liverpool fans, they'll tell you it's been coming for a while. The Spaniard has been brilliant much of his career but has had a few gaffes here and there.

    Unfortunately for Liverpool, the mistakes are starting to pile up, and when you struggle to score, you can't be giving away cheap goals. 

    Reina is only 30 years old and still has that brilliance in him, but the Reds can't wait long for him to find it.

The Best Backup Keeper in World Football

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    Goalkeeper is obviously a crucial position, and you can't bank on your No. 1 always being available. Tottenham knows this, and they brought in Hugo Lloris on deadline day as insurance for the aging American Brad Friedel. 

    Queens Park Rangers did them one better though. Mark Hughes must think he's back at Manchester City because he went on a transfer spending spree this summer, including signing Brazilian and Inter Milan keeper Julio Cesar, pending a visa.

    The craziest part about this deal? QPR is in 19th place with one point, and they are minus-seven in goal difference.

    Yes, we're only a few games in, but this is also the same team that stayed up by barely the skin of their teeth last season. 

    What could a keeper like Julio Cesar see that we don't? And more importantly, will he get the green light ahead of Robert Green?

The Deuce Joins Spurs

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    Clint Dempsey, even more than Robin van Persie, was the subject of this summer's longest, most exhausting transfer saga. 

    Liverpool were interested but never made any bids until the end, when they made a shockingly low bid. Eventually, right at the deadline, Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham snapped up the American star.

    What was really odd was the lack of attention Dempsey really got before he finally made the move. 

    After 23 goals last season and five solid years with Fulham, you would have thought more top clubs would be chasing the dynamic forward. Arsenal were whispered to be interested but not much else. 

    Dempsey's reputation has taken a hit in recent weeks, but if he scores at all like he did last year, all the "he said, she said" will be forgotten in an instant. 

Swansea Flying High

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    Swansea City lost Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool in the summer, and so far, they don't miss him. The Swans are second in the table with two wins and a draw and have scored 10 goals in the process—more than any other club. 

    Miguel Cuesta, better known as Michu, has so far been the best buy of the summer with four goals to his name and an assist. And that doesn't really say enough about how he's played. 

    No one is saying Swansea will finish in the top four, but they have a favorable schedule coming up. 

    Don't expect a slide just yet. 

Everton Aren't Struggling...Much

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    Everton start each season miserably. They struggle with injuries, they can't score, and they are in relegation talk around Christmas. That's just the way things go. 

    Not this time.

    The Toffees started this season in the best possible fashion: by beating Manchester United at home in the first Monday night game of the year. 

    Everton followed that up with a 3-1 win at Aston Villa in Week 2. Week 3 at West Brom saw the early season Everton we're accustomed to, as a lackluster performance doomed David Moyes' side to a 2-0 loss at the Hawthorns. 

    Still, six points out of nine? Better than what anybody expected and much better than Liverpool.