The Premier League's top five surprise packages - 2018/19

Declan Rice
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WE ALL LOVE A SURPRISE PACKAGE, DON'T WE?

This season's edition of the Premier League has once again captivated the nation, and with a genuine title challenge between Manchester City and Liverpool, the battle for first place is tighter than ever. Only a point separates the two titans at the top of the summit, with Pep Guardiola's reigning champions currently in pole position to clinch top spot after back-to-back 1-0 wins over West Ham and Bournemouth this week.

Liverpool passed up the opportunity to go top after an underwhelming performance against rivals Everton on Sunday, with a 0-0 draw resulting in the Reds now trailing City by point in second. The race for a Champions League spot next season is also hotting up, with Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all separated by just five points. Things are just as tense at the foot of the division as well, with Cardiff, Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Newcastle all currently in real contention to be relegated from the top flight at the end of the campaign, alongside Huddersfield and Fulham who look all but doomed already.

The form of star performers Sergio Aguero, Mo Salah (until recently), Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba have grabbed the headlines throughout this scintillating season, but that's to be expected. What we're most interested in is which players have stood out from the rest unexpectedly; who have been the surprise packages and who are the players that will be in with an outside chance of scooping the hugely coveted Player of the Season award come the end of May. Below, we've analysed five of the Premier League's surprise packages this term, give it the once over if you can be arsed and let us know your thoughts @FootyAccums, cheers.

MATT DOHERTY - WOLVES

Wolves have been the top-flight's most impressive side outside of the top six this season. The west midland's outfit, who stormed the Championship last term, currently lie 7th in the Premier League and week after week continue to impress the rest of the league with their fluid style of sexy football. Nuno Espirito Santo is one of the most exciting young managers around and has got his side playing in a really distinctive manner, with players like Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez all largely to thank for their current league position.

However, it is their longest-serving player - Matt Doherty - who has got people talking this time out. The Republic of Ireland wing-back has been at the club since 2010, rising through the divisions with Wolves from the depths of League One to the dizzy heights of the Premier League. Not many people expected the 27-year-old to be able to cope with the demands of life in the worlds most competitive league, but he's taken everything in his stride this term, proving himself at the very top level.

Doherty currently has six goals to his name in all competitions, alongside a whopping eight assists. He's such a threat down Wolves' right hand side, with his electric pace and exquisite crossing ability proving way too much for many teams to handle. Keep it up, Matt.

Matt Doherty Wolves

AARON WAN-BISSAKA - CRYSTAL PALACE

Another right-back, Crystal Palace youngster Aaron Wan-Bissaka has a huge future in front of him, and we can't wait to watch it play out. The 21-year-old was thrusted into the Eagles' first team for seven games last season due to an injury crisis at Selhurst Park, showing real signs of promise, however this time around he's been one of Palace's most consistent performers. Featuring in all but three of Palace's league matches this season, Wan-Bissaka has grabbed the headlines in south east London due to his flawless attacking displays down Palace's right flank.

The young defender has registered three assists in all competitions so far, with his latest contribution coming in the Eagles' impressive 3-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday. Wan-Bissaka has got everything you want from a full-back: exceptional positional sense, tough in the tackle, strong on the ball and lightening quick. He's also not afraid to join in with the attack, causing opposition left-back's real problems in the final third.

It won't be long until we see the 21-year-old included into Gareth Southgate's England squad, with the Three Lions boss present in the crowd at Turf Moor this weekend reportedly tracking his progress. ahead of picking his 25-man squad for the forthcoming European qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro at the end of this month. Wan Bissaka's performances have also gained him interest from Manchester United, who are in the market for a new right-back this summer and should that move happen, the sky really is the limit for this exciting young prospect.

Wan-Bissaka Crystal Palace

DECLAN RICE - WEST HAM

One of the brightest talents in English football, West Ham United's Declan Rice, has made headways in the Premier League this season. It seems as though the 20-year-old picks up the Man of the Match award every weekend, with him once again scooping it on Saturday after the Hammers defeated Newcastle 2-0 at the London Stadium.

Rice added to his account in that clash against the Magpies, netting a first-half header to put his side a goal to the good and it now looks as though he too will be called up to Gareth Southgate's England squad later this month, should all the relevant paperwork regarding his switch from Ireland be completed in time.

Rice controls the game in such a way that has only been seen done by the worlds very best. He reminds us of a young Patrick Vieira, effortlessly gliding about the park with his long legs, dispossessing the opposition should they attempt to go past him before cutely offloading the ball forward to one of West Ham's creative forces.

There is such a maturity in this young mans game, one that is not only refreshing to witness but also makes you unbelievably jealous that you weren't blessed with an eighth of his ability - it's just unfair, isn't it? Rice is going right to the very top, that's for sure. This season is just the start for the former Chelsea trainee, and it's fair to say absolutely nobody is forgetting his name in a hurry.

Rice Rice Baby

DAVID BROOKS - BOURNEMOUTH

Having joined Bournemouth for £12 million last summer, David Brooks looks to be one of the bargains of the season. The former Sheffield United winger has proven many sceptics wrong by lighting up the top-flight this term, with the debate that he's too 'lightweight' for Premier League football now firmly put to bed. The 21-year-old has impeccable vision, unbelievable dribbling ability and a real eye for goal all - all attributes which have made him become one of the league's most surprise packages this time out.

Brooks has been Bournemouth's player of the season so far, which considering he plays in a team containing the likes of Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser - that's some achievement. The Wales international has notched six league goals and registered four assists in the top-flight this season, statistics which saw him sign a brand new long-term contract with the Cherries on Monday, less than a year after he put pen to paper with the club on a four-year deal.

Many thought that with all of the attacking options Bournemouth possessed, Brooks may have seen first team opportunities limited on the south coast. However, after impressing when given his chance by manager Eddie Howe, the young wide man has become one of the first names on the team-sheet this term. Brooks returned to action on Saturday after a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury he picked up in the 4-0 win over Chelsea in January, and will now look to help turn Bournemouth's poor form around when they travel to rock-bottom Huddersfield on Saturday - don't be surprised if you see his name on the scoresheet.

David Brooks

BERNARDO SILVA - MANCHESTER CITY

After joining Manchester City in the summer of 2017, Bernardo Silva saw opportunities in Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side fairly limited last term, however this time around things have been very different. Silva has now become one of the most important players in City's quadruple-chasing side, with his manager saying that he is the "best player in the league" this time around.

It's hard to disagree with Guardiola's comments about the 24-year-old; his game has been fine tuned this season for the benefit of the team and every time you watch City, he's always the man buzzing around causing problems to the opposition, both offensively and defensively.

In seasons gone by Kevin de Bruyne has taken the role of City's most influential, creative force in his stride, and this time out he's been just as flawless when on the pitch, but with a nasty knee injury sidelining him for large parts of the campaign, his colleagues have had to step up to the plate. Raheem Sterling has once again gone from strength to strength, while Silva has also grabbed the bull by the proverbial horns, scoring eight goals and registering eight assists (all competitions) so far.

Though Silva always had bags of potential, only this season have we seen exactly what the Portugal international is capable of thanks to Guardiola playing him more regularly. He's been a joy to watch this term, and should City make it back-to-back title wins in May, they'll be plenty of Sky Blues fans queuing up to buy him a pint in Manchester.

Bernardo Silva Manchester City
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