ROUNDBALL DAILY

Newly-promoted teams providing the biggest surprises of the Premier League season so far

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Norwich striker Teemu Pukki has been one of the Premier League’s breakout stars this season.

The English Premier League is back from a short holiday (it might even have been one day, the offseason is so freaking short), and a new season of soccer is already upon us.

Balls have been kicked, goals have been scored, and international stars have been made in the first three weeks of games.

Without further nonsense (as the British announcers might say), here are the biggest surprises from the first couple of weeks:

Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki– Though many were unsure of whether or not he could perform in the top league in Europe, Finnish sensation Teemu Pukki has taken the PL by storm. Pukki Bear (how is that not his nickname?) has racked up a league-best five goals and 11 points in three games for newly-promoted Norwich, netted a hat trick against Newcastle and even lit the lamp against Chelsea.

This kid is legit, and with betting odds at 100-1 that he’ll take home the scoring title, it’s worth putting a couple of Ulysses S. Grants on the table in Vegas. (Update: The odds have been slashed to 10-1. Clearly somebody read this article.)

Norwich might be out of their depth in the Premier League, but Pukki sure isn’t, and the Canaries can find the back of the net in any league in the world. It’s defending that might keep them from staying up past 2020, but if they can knock in enough goals, that might not be a problem. Either way, they’re a joy to watch.

Sheffield United– The Blades have come out of the gate competitive in England’s top division, earning a 1-1 draw in their return to the Premier League at Bournemouth, then blanking Crystal Palace, 1-0, in Sheffield, for their first PL win in 12 years. They also hung around against Leicester, holding a 1-1 scoreline into the 78th minute, when the Foxes finally broke through with the winner.

Sheffield doesn’t have anyone with the prodigious goal-scoring ability as Teemu Pukki, but Billy Sharp has been, well– pretty sharp, and manager Chris Wilder has overseen the club’s Phoenix-like rise from the depths of League One. His defensive style has helped the Blades weather the storm early, and it just may be enough to keep them in the league when the dust settles.

Aston Villa– Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Villains have started off competitive in their return to the top flight, after they reeled off seven straight wins down the stretch in the Championship, and brought some big-money acquisitions into the PL under Dean Smith. But this club has been extremely competitive, as it showed in its opening game at Tottenham, when it took a 1-0 lead past halftime, and in its last game at home against Everton, a 2-0 win.

That victory sealed Villa’s status as a team that can contend for a mid-table finish, and one that might have what it takes to completely bypass a relegation battle altogether. There’s plenty of talent on this team, including midfielder Jack McGinn, defender Tyrone Mings (who’s been fantastic so far), and veteran goalie Tom Heaton.

Which of these clubs has been the biggest surprise so far? Which one has the best chance of staying up next season? Let us know in the comments below.

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