In years gone by, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have more often than not dominated the European spots of the Premier League, earning themselves the name: the ‘Big Six’.
The Premier League’s elite, together, have spent billions to maintain their spots at the top of the table, keeping at bay contenders like Newcastle United, Everton and most recently, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.
In more recent years the Premier League hierarchy has experienced some turmoil, with some of the ‘lesser teams’ featuring more commonly among the European spots. Clubs from out of nowhere seem to be breaking this European barrier, which was unheard of as early as 10 years ago.
Wolves and Sheffield are not the first underdog teams to convincingly challenge for a top six place, however, as Newcastle United placed fifth in the 2011/12 season, qualifying for the Europa League. Despite reaching the quarter finals of the 2012/13 competition the Magpies finished 16th in the league that season, just five points above relegation, perhaps struggling to cope with the struggles of league and European football.
This seemed to be the case for Leicester’s title-winning side of 2015/16 as well, finishing 12th the season after becoming champions of England.
Now, Leicester are currently firmly in third place under the experienced boss, Brendan Rodgers, just four points behind champions Man City, whilst Wolves are in sixth place – ahead of seventh Sheffield only by goal difference, who are just two points off United in fifth.
Tottenham and Arsenal are in 8th and 9th place, respectively, after underwhelming seasons from both sides. Are these signs the hierarchy of the Premier League is changing, as clubs begin to rise below them the usual top six sides?