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With the English Premier League nearing the end of its first trimester, it’s time to take a look at the biggest early season surprises. These can be newcomers to the league or players making unexpected impacts for their longtime clubs. Whatever they’re doing it has certainly stood out. Without further ado, our starting XI.

Starting from the back, is Manchester City goalie Kasper Schmeichel. The son of former Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel, the 20-year-old has performed beyond his years and entrenched himself as the No. 1 choice for City. He has played seven of 10 games and made 41 saves.

In defense we have lined up Joleon Lescott, Bacary Sagna and Micah Richards. All three are relatively young with Lescott being the oldest at 25. Speaking of Lescott, he has scored three goals this year and earned a call-up to the England national team. While he performed well last season, Lescott has made quite a jump this year. Sagna, 24, has again shown Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger is an adept scout. Sagna has seamlessly fit into Arsenal’s defense and established himself as a mainstay in just nine games. Richards, 19, has shown strength and power beyond his years. He has worked himself into the English national team and proven a powerful foil for Premiership attackers.

Leading our midfield is Cesc Fabregas. The precocious Spaniard did not sneak up on anybody, but the way he has elevated his game this season is amazing. He has already picked up five assists, but it’s his four goals in league play that stand out. With the departure of Thierry Henry, Fabregas has helped pick up the scoring load and his marauding runs into the box and powerful shots from distance have shown that he can be a scoring force from midfield in the Frank Lampard mode. City have yet another appearance in Blumer Elano. After Fabregas, Elano has been the most important player for his team. Four goals and five assists in 10 games are a big reason why City sits in third place right now. Fulham’s Clint Dempsey has shown he has adjusted to the Premier League just fine. He has arguably been Fulham’s most important player and has three goals and an assist in 10 games. The last midfield spot belongs to Arsenal’s Aleksander Hleb. In his third season in England, Hleb is beginning to show the form that made him so attractive to Wenger. Great on the ball, Hleb has improved his distribution and also become more of a scoring threat and give Arsenal the type of winger it has needed.

Portsmouth’s Benjani Mwaruwari has been a pleasant surprise with seven goals already, to lead the EPL, after just six last season. After coming to Portsmouth in a record transfer deal in January 2006, his form had not always displayed his reported worth. So far he has found his scoring touch with goals in three straight games, including a hat trick. Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz has made a nice transition to England. The former Bayern Munich player is tied for the lead on the team in goals with four and has proven to be formidable in the air. The final piece of the attack is Fernando Torres. Liverpool’s prize catch of the summer has not disappointed after some had doubted how he would handle the English game and whether or not he was worth the exorbitant transfer fee.

All teams need a manager and there might not be a bigger managerial surprise than City’s Sven Goran Eriksson. Even with past domestic success, there were many doubters after his stint as the manager of England. So far he has pushed all of the right buttons and built a solid team. Almost all of his summer additions have paid dividends.

What do you think? Are there any surprises we missed or ones you disagree with? Who would you pick?


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  1. While Schmeichel was great early on, he has found himself stranded on the Manchester City bench rather than between the goalposts. As for defenders, there are few other names that could easily be on this list. Martin Laursen has proven a huge asset to a resurgent Aston Villa with two goals. In the midfield, another Manchester City recruit has also had electrifying start to his Premier League career. Playing on the wing Martin Petrov has scored has scored three goals and added two assists in 10 games. Up top Carlos Tevez has done very little statistically, but he has contributed greatly to Manchester United’s vein of rich form.

  2. While Schmeichel is now on the bench, his early play was quite surprising. I found many defenders who were deserving as well. As for Petrov, he was a known commodity in Spain and his best work has come of late, so maybe he’ll make the midseason or end of season team. As for Tevez, after his play last season, no matter how well he played, his form would not be a surprise.