Biggest surprises of EPL season

Everton, West Bromwich are among the teams off to hot starts

Originally Published: October 8, 2012
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Mikel ArtetaPress Association/AP ImagesMikel Arteta has been instrumental in Arsenal's success when he's been on the pitch.

Seven weeks into the 2012-13 English Premier League season, some things have played out exactly as pundits expected. Heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City sit atop the table and are a dominant 9-1-1 at home. But there have also been quite a few surprises so far. Here's a statistical look at two teams and two players off to unexpectedly hot starts this season.

Teams

Everton

The first team on everybody's list of top surprises, Everton has raced out to its best start in years, sitting in fourth place just behind presumptive league favorites Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

One of the driving forces behind the Toffees' fast start is left back Leighton Baines. The diminutive defenseman leads the entire Premier League with 30 scoring opportunities created for his teammates. Further, 19 of the 30 chances have come via the cross, with 11 going toward the lanky combination of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic. Additionally, Baines' 67 percent pass accuracy on corner kicks is the best among the 20 most frequent corner-takers.

ESPN Stats & InformationEverton's touches in the 2012-13 English Premier League season. Brighter red indicates increased frequency.

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Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.