Simon Smith looks at how the smaller Premier League clubs have upset the balance this season by signing the right players and assigning the right tactics…
Recent events have got me wondering how the league table would look if Chelsea hadn’t managed to have such a productive summer in the transfer market and get their act together this season. Would Southampton really be the league leaders? The trend in recent seasons has grown from none to one, and then to two, of the big teams each season to struggle. Not necessarily terribly, but to fail to achieve what they ought to, to invite the media crisis circus upon them. This season has reached new crises heights due to the fact that all the big clubs bar Chelsea (and to a lesser extent Manchester City) have failed to get their act together.
Just what is going on at Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United? The answer for all those clubs will be different, so perhaps instead we might muse what Southampton, Swansea and West Ham are doing that these sleeping giants are incapable of.
Tactically, it’s hard to conclude anything concrete: all three of those clubs have reasonably different plans, styles of play and ways the team is set up. What perhaps sets them apart the most is their player recruitment strategy. In a chaotic summer for Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United in particular, these smaller clubs have shown the value of planning signings with the team in mind. Continue reading