English Premier League: Everton, West Brom Winning Fans as Upstart Subversives
West Bromwich Albion will not win the English Premier League this season, and Everton aren't really going to stay above both of the Manchester clubs between now and next May.
If history is any guide, order will surely be restored, the big boys and their big money will inevitably have their big days and both the Baggies and the Toffees will likely settle back into the lives of Premier League also-rans.
To that, we say this: So what?
Change is good and inevitable in any case. And besides, even if all we have is hope, history is bunk anyway.
West Brom and Everton posted two more positive results again this weekend, and in the process both maintained the momentum of their successful starts to the season and reminded any who needed reminding why it's nice to have a few new faces among the fray every once in a while.
That reason should be self-evident for anyone with a working understanding of Premier League power dynamics. Over the last 10 seasons, the top four positions in the Premier League table have been the almost-exclusive property of a tiny cabal of clubs.
Manchester United (10 top-four finishes in the last 10 years), Arsenal (10 for 10, too) and Chelsea (nine out of 10 ain't bad) have dominated for literally a decade, while five others (Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle and Everton) have all attempted to make inroads.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with consistency, nor that successful teams should be held in contempt by the clubs trying and failing to catch up with them. The point is, variety makes for compelling viewing, and as Andy would tell Red, hope—even for the also-rans—is a good, good thing.
Through six fixtures, West Brom and especially Everton have hope. For fans of the Premier League, that can only be a good thing.
Once an elite English club (two titles in three years in the '80s), Everton fell back to the pack in the Premier League era before David Moyes set his decade-long revival in motion in 2002. After finishing seventh last season, the Toffees have set a course for the top four, and with every passing week, that's looking like a more realistic goal.
Can Everton finish in the top four?
Everton underlined their top-four challenge again Saturday, smashing Southampton 3-1 at home with a slick passing game and Nikica Jelavic's lethally efficient touch. In Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar, Moyes and the Toffees have a stellar left side, and in Marouane Fellaini, they have the coolest, smoothest, Afro-wearing Belgian in the game.
Not that there's another like him.
With this team, that's kind of the point, because Moyes has built a contender unlike any other in England. Even Arsene Wenger would find Everton's budget restrictive, and for all the pretty passing and cosmopolitan-sounding names on the roster, the Toffees keep a distinctly English flavor at all times.
And at all times, they're plenty of fun to watch.
West Brom's weekend wasn't quite as rewarding, nor are the Baggies quite as good as Everton. But in holding on for a 1-1 draw against local rivals Aston Villa, first-year manager Steve Clarke—and in his case, first-year means no previous full-time managerial experience at all—further dispelled any thoughts of a post-Roy Hodgson collapse.
How high can West Brom finish?
And while sixth place doesn't exactly translate to taking the league by storm, West Brom sit only five points off the pace being set by Roman Abramovich's oil-money millionaires at Chelsea. That gap will probably only widen in the coming months, but for now the football gods have seen fit to grant the plucky challengers another few weeks near the top.
So with six matches gone and the table already starting to sort itself out, Everton and West Brom are still mixing it up with the big boys and still earning admirers as the Premier League's upstart subversives to yesterday's established order.
Both are defying the odds, and both are quickly becoming runaway favorites for the title of neutrals' favorites. They've got pluck, they entertain and most of all, they're not the same old suspects.
Their success is good for the league, and the longer this lasts, the greater their admirers will number.
Here's hoping the ride runs a few months longer.
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