Top 6 Surprises of the Premier League So Far
After seven games, the 2013-14 Premier League season is beginning to take shape.
Some things are predictable—Manchester City's crushing home form, Chelsea's ridiculous squad depth and Aston Villa being better away from home being prime examples—but others are not, and we've listed a few things that have come as a minor shock so far.
Who joins Steve Bruce's revolution in our top six?
Hull City Soaring
Hull City, one of three promoted sides new to the Premier League this season, have surprised many with their quick acclimatisation to the top tier.
Steve Bruce has found a happy balance between holding possession and counterattacking with pace, and has a diverse squad that he's able to chop and change for different matchups.
Overall, Bruce did a very solid job in the transfer window and has retained a good playing philosophy: a fact still lost on many fans as they sit oblivious to the Tigers' eighth-place standing in the league after seven games.
Olivier Giroud's Form
Olivier Giroud has started the season in tremendous form, taking many of us by surprise in the process.
The Frenchman put together a fairly drab slate of games in his first full year in England, but has clearly spent the summer working on decision-making, attacking runs and linkup play.
Oh, and he doesn't shoot from 35 yards three times a game anymore, either.
He's perfected the near-post run across the centre-back to convert low crosses with ease, and with the creativity behind him, he should stay consistent.
Many will also be surprised that Aaron Ramsey was been so dominant, but they shouldn't be: As soon as he was moved into his preferred central midfield role six weeks before the end of the 2012-13 season, he caught fire.
It's not looking pretty for Martin Jol, as the Dutchman faces calls for his sacking every weekend without fail.
Perhaps they're justified, as Fulham are currently flailing in the Premier League. They're hovering just above the relegation zone after seven games and have failed to find the correct balance despite strong early business in the summer.
No one expected them to pull up any trees, but with Darren Bent, Bryan Ruiz, Adel Taarabt and Dimitar Berbatov in the side, more goals were expected. As it stands, they're joint-last in the league with just five.
This is a team full of talent and it's underperforming. Either they step it up or Shahid Khan may be hiring his first manager.
We expected a good, solid season from Southampton this season. A top-half finish for sure, perhaps eighth with an outside chance of European football?
Scratch that, as after seven games they're fourth, have kept five clean sheets and conceded just two goals. Behind Chelsea only on goal difference, Saints fans didn't see this coming—even in their wildest dreams.
They're an immensely talented side with an excellent manager, and the challenge for them is to keep up with the big boys all season long. Safe bets have them falling in the months to come, but take a glance at their squad and you're hard-pressed to say it isn't brilliant.
Arsenal fans were feeling irritated when their first summer signing, which was supposed to be a big hitter, was the acquisition of Mathieu Flamini for free.
The former Gunner, returning after an injury-plagued collection of campaigns with AC Milan, was hardly a mouth-watering prospect, but Arsene Wenger told Arsenal's official site the Frenchman was in top physical condition and had a lot to offer the team.
He wasn't lying.
Flamini has immediately become a key player in North London, assuming a dominant, commanding role in the heart of midfield and providing a steely presence no other can.
Form-wise, he's one of the top three holding midfielders in the Premier League so far.
Young Players Getting the Chance to Shine
As if responding to widespread, general criticisms of top-flight football, Premier League clubs have endeavoured give their promising youngsters as many minutes as possible this season, and it's refreshing to see them do so.
Southampton started their opening-day tussle against West Bromwich Albion with three 18-year-olds on the pitch—Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse—and they remain a vital part of the team.
Adnan Januzaj got his long-awaited start against Sunderland and scored a brace, while Charalampos Mavrias, Jose Campagna, Saido Berahino, Ravel Morrison and more have all been given the platform to impress.
Ross Barkley of Everton has made the most of his chance and is now a guaranteed starter in an Everton side chasing European football.
What's surprised you so far this season in the Premier League? Leave a comment below!