8 unconventional sides in the Premier League’s top four over the years

Champions League qualification has had an air of predictability about it in the English top flight over the past 15 years. Manchester City and Tottenham have expanded the ‘Big Four’ into a ‘Big Six’ to add a bit of flavor and excitement to the proceedings, but almost every season there is a question of how the top six will finish. Not who will be involved. Item

But this year, Wolves and Leicester have emerged as unconventional candidates to break into the top four and break the usual monotony of Premier League Champions League qualification.

The successful pair are not trailblazers or pioneers, but belong to a special group of unlikely top four members. Which other top-flight teams have broken the mold and given the Premier League’s big boys a run for their money?

York was Villa’s mascot / Stu Forster / Getty Images

Villa have twice finished in the Premier League’s top four, but neither occasion has seen them qualify for the Champions League.

Villa finished second during the inaugural 1992/93 Premier League season, and were top with six games remaining before the season ended in turmoil when they fell 10 points behind Manchester United.

The Villans finished fourth during the 1995/96 season, thanks to 17 goals from Dwight Yorke – just a year before they had survived Brexit.

Shearer and Blackburn win the Premier League in 1995 / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Blackburn finished fourth in their first season in the top flight after promotion from the second tier thanks to Jack Walker’s fortunes.

It wasn’t enough to secure European football – let alone a place in the Champions League – but Alan Shearer’s goals the following season saw them finish second in the league. The second was enough for the UEFA Cup, but still no Champions League for Kenny Dalglish’s side.

The following season Blackburn won the league title on the final day of the season despite losing to Liverpool – and it also put them into the Champions League.

However, Rovers crashed out at the group stage in the 1995/96 season, losing four of their six Champions League fixtures.

Norwich’s kit has remained a cult favorite since its high-flying debut in the early 90s / Ben Redford / Getty Images

Despite being tipped to struggle in the first season of the Premier League, Norwich instead mounted a remarkable title challenge.

The Canaries were eight points clear in December, but defeat against Manchester United wiped things out of them, and they have struggled for consistency since then.

The Canaries were eight points clear in December, but defeat against Manchester United wiped things out of them, and they have struggled for consistency since then.

Norwich eventually finished third, 12 points behind Premier League champions United in the sole Champions League spot, but still pipped Blackburn to the UEFA Cup final – famously knocking out Bayern Munich in the competition the following season. done.

Bobby Robson’s Newcastle lose to Barcelona in the 2002/03 Champions League / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ finished third in their first Premier League season in 1993/94, and won Champions League football for the first time in 1996/97 after missing out on the title to Manchester United. .

The Magpies have finished in the top four five times – but only three of those occasions have resulted in Champions League football.

Until 1996, only league champions qualified for the Champions League. It rose to the top two in 1996/97, the top three two years later, and a fourth-place finish became the final Champions League spot during the 2001/02 campaign.

Sir Bobby Robson then led the Magpies to consecutive top four finals between 2002 and 2003. However, under both Keegan and Robson, Newcastle have only made it past the Champions League group stage on one occasion – in 2002/03, when there were no finalists. 16, but the second group phase instead.

Collymore was Forest’s top scorer in the 1994/95 season/Michael Cooper/Getty Images

The season after gaining promotion from Division One, Nottingham Forest finished third in the Premier League.

Since then, no newly promoted side has risen. Stan Collymore hit 22 league goals en route to Forest’s third-place finish – not enough to book their place in the Champions League.

They did however earn a place in the UEFA Cup – a competition in which the club has a rich history – and reached the quarter-finals, before being knocked out by Bayern Munich.

By David O’Leary/Ben Redford/Getty Images Bridges and Cavell were an integral part of Leeds’ success.

Leeds have recorded three top-four finishes, but only eleven were enough to secure Champions League football – when the Whites finished third during the 1999/2000 season.

David O’Leary’s young side, led by a Harry Kewell – Michael Bridges strike force, moved two points clear of fourth-placed Liverpool to book their place in club football’s most prestigious cup competition.

Leeds continued to enjoy quite the European adventure, qualifying from the first and second group stages and recording a stunning victory over Milan in the process.

They reached the semi-finals after beating Deportivo in the last eight, but were eliminated by Valencia after a 3-0 defeat in the second leg.

Everton finished fourth in 2004/05/Michael Steele/Getty Images.

The Toffees had finished three points and one place above the relegation zone during the 2003/04 season, and it looked as if Wayne Rooney’s summer sale to Manchester United was not going to improve much the following campaign.

However, Everton instead recorded their most successful season in Premier League history, even emerging as unlikely title contenders during the first half of the campaign.

Although they ultimately failed to keep pace with Arsenal and Chelsea at the top of the league, David Moyes’ side managed to finish three points ahead of rivals Liverpool in fourth place and Champions League football, even with a goal difference of -1. With a difference.

However, what should have been a European legend ended prematurely, as Everton crashed out of the Champions League during the qualifying round, failing to even make it to the group stage.

Leicester did little more than qualify for the Champions League in 2016/Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Lester has a history when it comes to upsetting the narrative.

A top-four finish wasn’t enough for the Foxes in 2016, who thought they too could win the title as they trudged towards the top of the Premier League. When in Rome and all that.

Leicester enjoyed quite the European adventure, qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners.

Craig Shakespeare then took over as head coach after Michael Gove-d Claudio Ranieri, beaten by Sevilla in the last 16. He inspired the Foxes to a second-leg comeback victory against the Spanish side, before their journey was narrowly ended by Atletico Madrid. In the quarter finals

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