The seven times a team has gate crashed the Premier League’s ‘big six’ in the last decade

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The Football Faithful

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During the noughties, Premier League football was dominated by its traditional top four with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea widely regarded as the powerhouses of England’s top tier.

The past decade has seen a billionaire-backed Manchester City and improving Tottenham join that quartet of superpowers to form a widely acknowledged ‘big six’, with the rest of the division bidding to close the gap to England’s elite.

This season will see the likes of Leicester, Everton and Wolves bid to break into that group of clubs and push towards the European places, and we’ve decide to look at the teams to have upset the status quo over the past 10 seasons.

Here are the seven teams to have gatecrashed the Premier League‘s big six in the last decade:

Aston Villa – 2009/10

Aston Villa returned to the Premier League last season after three seasons in the Championship wilderness, their recent fortunes a far cry from the side which regularly competed towards the top of the division just a decade ago.

The 2009/10 season saw Villa finish sixth in the Premier League, finishing a point ahead of a Liverpool side who finished as runners-up for the title just a season earlier.

Martin O’Neill’s side were spearheaded by the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew, whilst the likes of Ashley Young and James Milner starred throughout the campaign, the latter named as the PFA Young Player of the Year.

Villa were in contention for the Champions League places before finishing just six points outside the top four, though their fine season was rewarded with a third consecutive top six finish.

Newcastle – 2011/12

Two seasons later and it was Newcastle who found themselves breaking up the Premier League’s ‘big six’, Alan Pardew’s exciting side enjoying a hugely impressive campaign to finish fifth in the division.

The Magpies began with an 11-game unbeaten run and also finished the season strongly, including a run of six consecutive victories over March and April to have the club’s loyal supporters dreaming of Champions League football.

Demba Ba finished as Newcastle’s leading scorer with 16 goals for the campaign, though the Senegalese was ably assisted by compatriot Papiss Cisse, the forward scoring a phenomenal 13 goals in just 14 appearances following his winter window move from Freiburg to become one of the January window’s greatest signings.

Pardew’s side ultimately fell short and were unable to build on their success the following campaign, a lack of investment seeing the North East outfit slump to a hugely disappointing 16th-placed finish.

Everton – 2012/13

David Moyes regularly had Everton punching above their weight during more than a decade of savvy management at Goodison Park, the Scot ensuring the Merseyside club competed for European qualification despite operating on a comparatively shoestring budget to many Premier League rivals.

Moyes guided the club to five top six finishes during his time at the helm, including during the 2012/13 season, his final campaign with Everton before an ill-fated move to Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.

The Toffees were in the Champions League places at Christmas but ultimately dropped out of contention, though local bragging rights were assured after finishing about neighbours Liverpool for the second successive season and just the third time since the Premier League’s inception.

Everton – 2013/14

Everton made it back-to-back top six finishes the following season under new management, with Roberto Martinez guiding the Toffees to fifth, their second-highest finish of the Premier League era.

The signing of Romelu Lukaku – so impressive during a temporary stint at West Bromwich Albion the previous season – on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea proved an inspired move, the Belgian scoring 15 league goals as the focal point of Martinez’s new-look side.

Defeat to eventual champions Manchester City was Everton’s sole loss in their opening 17 fixtures of the season, their impressive run – alongside a seven game winning run over March and April – providing the platform for the club’s stellar season.

The club finished the season on an impressive 73 points, the highest points total Everton have ever amassed in a Premier League season.

Leicester – 2015/16

The season in which Leicester not only upset the established elite, but flipped the division on its head as the underdogs rose in stunning style to be crowned as champions.

Leicester entered the 2015/16 season as favourites for relegation after a narrow escape from the drop the previous year, a late winning run sparking a revival and beginning the momentum for the greatest season in the Foxes’ history.

The arrival of Claudio Ranieri as a replacement for Nigel Pearson was ridiculed by many, but the charming Italian oversaw back-to-back victories in his opening two fixtures, starting a snowball of results that grew and grew at a rapid rate.

Jamie Vardy’s scintillating form – including a Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive fixtures – led the charge for Leicester, whilst the mercurial performances of Riyad Mahrez resulted in the Algerian winning the PFA Player of the Year accolade.

Leicester lost just three games all season to win a first league title in the club’s 132-year history, the 5000-1 pre-season outsiders ripping up the rulebook to become champions, an improbable achievement that ranks as one of sport’s greatest ever shocks.

Southampton – 2015/16

Joining the unlikeliest of champions in the top six during the 2015/16 campaign were Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side, who built on their impressive progress since promotion in 2012 to finish just three points outside the Champions League places.

An exciting side including the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane enjoyed a strong second half of the campaign to climb into the European places, winning seven of their final nine fixture to seal qualification for the Europa League.

Mane finished as the Saints’ leading scorer in all competitions with 15 goals, including a brilliant hat-trick against Manchester City, whilst the Senegal international was ably supported in attack by Graziano Pelle.

The season proved to be Southampton’s highest finish and points tally of the Premier League era, the Saints finishing inside the top six of England’s top tier for the first time in more than two decades.

Leicester – 2019/20

Only Leicester have gatecrashed the top six in the past six seasons, the Foxes achieving the feat on two occasions after finishing fifth last season.

Brendan Rodgers’ side looked like certainties for Champions League qualification for much of the season, only to suffer an indifferent run-in following the Premier League’s restart to agonisingly miss out on the final day of the campaign.

Despite their late season stutter, however, it was a memorable and promising campaign for Leicester as they punched above their weight once more, an exciting young side containing talents such as James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu more than mixing it with the Premier League’s traditional heavyweights.

Talisman Jamie Vardy was once again crucial to their hopes of success, the evergreen forward enjoying another stand-out season to finish as the division’s leading scorer and win a maiden Golden Boot.