Unsung stars start to shine

We are now three months into the new Premier League campaign and, as ever, there are a number of surprise packages raising eyebrows around the country.

Bolton Wanderers are flying high in fifth place, Stoke City are eighth and last season’s Championship play-off victors Blackpool are sitting pretty in mid-table.

There are also several individuals who are standing out following a number of exceptional performances after previous struggles and here we take a look at a few of them that are earning their crusts in the top-flight.

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Johan Elmander – The Bolton man is in exceptional form and, with eight league goals to his name, is joint top of the scoring charts with Newcastle United frontman Andy Carroll.

The bulldozing Sweden international has struck a fine partnership with veteran Kevin Davies in attack and his two goals in the 5-1 win over the Magpies at the weekend saw his stock rise further.

After making a big-money move from French side Toulouse in June 2008 under former manager Gary Megson, the powerful attacker failed to make a telling impact at the Reebok Stadium.

But he has been a revelation this term, going some way to repaying the £8.2million the club forked out for his services.

Kevin Nolan – The attacking midfielder has enjoyed a fine return to form following Newcastle’s drop from the top league at the end of the 2008-09 campaign.

He helped them back to the Premier League last term and, with many predicting the Magpies would come straight back down, the former Bolton Wanderers playmaker has played a pivotal role in helping the team move into the top half of the table.

A hat-trick in an early season 6-0 drubbing of Aston Villa has helped him reach seven goals to date and he will certainly be out to fire the Geordies to further glory come May.

Samir Nasri – The impressive Arsenal star was something of an enigma last season, but he is proving his worth to manager Arsene Wenger this time around.

He has chipped in with five goals and don’t be surprised to see him score a few more before the 2010-11 campaign comes to a close.

Marlon Harewood – After spells at West Ham United and Aston Villa, Harewood became something of a bit-part player but, now at Blackpool, the 31-year-old is excelling under head coach Ian Holloway.

The Seasiders were the massive online sportsbook favourites to finish rock-bottom of the table, but Harewood has significantly aided their cause with five league goals.

His no-nonsense approach is helping him win the Bloomfield Road fans over and it would go down as one of his bigger achievements if he can help the men in tangerine preserve their status.