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If you had told me back in August, when the 2014-15 Premier League season kicked off, that Chelsea and Manchester City would occupy the top two spots in the table respectively, I would not have been very surprised. With only five losses in 44 games between the two teams, the riches that have bought both clubs such staggering success in recent seasons is not a new phenomenon – in fact, anything but that.
Yet slide your eyes slightly down the table, and surprises both in numbers and in performance pop up all of a sudden. Southampton, in third place? Sure, Southampton finished second in the top flight in 1983 (and were pretty awesome, too): but, well, that was 1983. Back then there was a Berlin Wall and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Times change, and since then smaller clubs such as Southampton competing near the top has hardly become a predictable part of Premier League life.
Instead, we expect the Big Clubs to bat around the Champions League-driven top positions with small fry like Southampton competing for UEFA Cup scraps.
Perhaps times are changing in the Premier League. As Financial Fair Play has an impact and clubs like Southampton can count on their own modern stadiums for good revenue streams along with the vast riches of television money that the Premier League shares more equally than its peers in Spain or Italy, a smartly run club like the Saints can actually compete – albeit not with the absurd mega riches of Chelsea or Man City!
If you’re a punter and thinking about what this means for your football betting, maybe you could do worse than roll back time to the 1980s and perhaps consider taking a chance that we might be seeing a new wave of upstart clubs who may enjoy a taste of success alongside the big boys again.