The Premier League is the pinnacle – the proverbial Mount Everest of English Football – it is considered one of, if not the best, most competitive league in the world. As a result getting relegated from the league is the equivalent of being unceremoniously knocked off the peak of a mountain and going back to square one. That is why year in year out, teams in the Premier League scrap so dogged and determinedly to keep their heads above the dreaded relegation drop. Every year the Premier League relegation battle is one the most intriguing, unpredictable things to watch – this year will be no different as I envisage a whole host of teams trying to avoid the precarious bottom 3 of the league.
Football writers and journalists look at the squads and predict the three destined to face the drop to Championship football – however football games are not won on paper, they are won on the pitch – the Premier League always has shock results every season.
So who could go down this year?
Norwich – last year they finished 11th. They were even backed to get relegated by some last season but they made those predictors look like brainless fools. This summer Norwich are one of the bottom half teams that has done some of the best business in the transfer window in my eyes. They’ve bought a quality striker in Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, another consistent striker in Hooper as well as the buying of quality youngsters in Fer and Redmond. Due to a very impressive summer I see them finishing well clear of the relegation zone this year maybe even a potential Top 10 team.
Fulham – last year finished 12th. Fulham have bought the Dutch No.1 keeper in Steklenberg, a reliable CB in Amorebieta and have made a shrewd loan move for the mercurial Taarabt. With Darren Bent the latest signing, I think Fulham have the foundations of a solid mid-table team. I can see them being inconsistent with several new signings needing time to gel, so they could have an up down season even though on paper they should be safe – they need to have a good start to the season.
Stoke – 13th finish last year. New Manager and just 2 defensive signings made by them. Stoke needed to reinforce their attacking force in my opinion, whilst there is still time, I don’t see them buying anyone else. Stoke’s 13th finish last year was a bit of an exaggeration of how well Stoke did last season. As up and until the last month they were in the relegation fight. This season will be a struggle for them with the lack of goals they scored last year. I feel they will be right in the mix to get relegated. In fact I’d go as far as saying; I think Stoke will be playing Championship football next year.
Southampton – They finished 14th but If Pochettino was there from the start of the Season I think they would have finished top half. Last half of the season, The Saints were very impressive and now with the addition of a powerhouse defensive midfielder in Wanyama and record signing striker Osvaldo who even the likes of Spurs were interested in – I think not only will they avoid the drop; they will improve on their 14th placed finish. Their signings show they are a massively ambitious team. I rate them highly as a team and I think they have a potential top 10 worthy squad.
Aston Villa – 15th finish last year. Let’s face it, even Villa fans admit it, they wouldn’t still be in the Premier League if it was not for Christian Benteke. They really were a one man team, if he got injured last season they’d be already playing Championship football. They’ve made some decent signings this summer but none stand out as the ones that can keep them up. I feel this season is another If Benteke fires Villa stay up season. They haven’t bought in attacking reinforcements so Benteke is still the main marksmen. In my eyes they are far too reliant on him, but if the youngsters have gained experience and improve they could be safe, nevertheless I feel that they’ll be battling all season teetering on the edge of the relegation zone.
Newcastle – 16th last year. With their squad on paper, they shouldn’t be anywhere near the relegation zone but they were living life dangerously last season being only 5 points from the drop. With Remy added to their forwards, in addition to Cisse, Ben Arfa and Cabaye – they have plenty of quality in their ranks. I think it all depends on their French acquisitions from last season; if they have acclimatised themselves to the Premier League they could steer well away from the drop zone. If the team is gelled from the end of last season they may not be involved in the relegation battle at all…conversely if there is still that air of uncertainty at St. James’ Park then they could still be in the dog fight at the bottom of the table.
Sunderland – 17th last year. Only 3 points separated them from still playing Premier League football for another season. Paolo Di Canio was the difference in the end that kept them afloat, with his unique managerial style, he proved he is more has more in his managerial repertoire than just being entertaining on the touchline. They have made a good signing of midfielder Giaccherini, a youngster with bags of potential and also a risky signing which could prove to be a fruitful gamble of striker Jozy Altidore. This season Sunderland have added depth to their average squad, but will strength in numbers be enough to keep them up? I think they have less quality in their ranks compared to relegation competitors and I fear this year will be another struggle for them and they will be thoroughly involved in the dog fight.
The teams that have worked tirelessly to get promoted to the Premier League face another season of tremendously hard work to stay in the Premier League. Every year the promoted clubs are always favourites to abruptly go straight back down. Will one of the promoted teams be like Derby County and have a horror performance in the Premier League? The hope is there for promoted teams in the form of Swansea, West Brom and West Ham who all have comfortably stayed up after being promoted.
Cardiff City – Winners of the Championship. They won the Championship quite comfortably by 8 points. As a team they recorded the most clean sheets in the Championship – 18 – which may be a good sign for Cardiff fans as it proves maybe they could handle the Premier League defensively. Cardiff have made brilliant signings for a promoted club, Caulker, ex Spurs defender was a great budget acquisition and Medel, was the club record signing and has been touted as a great defensive midfielder. They also bought a highly rated striker in Andreas Cornelius, in addition to the attacking likes of Campbell, Maynard and Bellamy. They have made some good additions to an already strong squad but the Premier League is a whole different monster to the Championship so it is yet to be seen whether Cardiff have the quality to stay up. Cardiff will be right in the relegation fight all season but out of the three promoted clubs I think Cardiff have the best chance of staying up.
Hull City – Runners up of the Championship. Under Steve Bruce, Hull last season experienced somewhat of a renaissance by exceeding many expectations by getting automatically promoted to the Premier League. In Robbie Brady, they have a player who bar one was the man who created the most assists in the Championship, which bodes well in a League that requires creativity in abundance. In defence, the additions of Elmohamady, Davies and Figueroa and Huddlestone in the midfield could be key players if they have a realistic chance of staying up. New strikers Boyd and Graham will have to provide the goals for Hull. Hull City have a good squad, and have a manager more than familiar with a Relegation fight but ‘The Tigers’ have an uphill task to avoid extinction from the Premier League. I feel they will be one of the 3 teams that are going to be relegated to the Championship.
Crystal Palace – 5th in the Championship. This year, with the player who created the most chances for them Zaha being sold to Man United, they have lost a major protagonist for their team. However they have Glen Murray Championship top scorer last year with 30 goals. Also they’ve made some interesting signings in Campana, Grandin and Thomas, potential players providing the midfield creativity. With strikers Chamakh and Gayle also signed, they’ve bought players who are real gambles and may or may not pay off. Ian Holloway the ultimate underdog is a manager used to being written off with Blackpool, so it will be interesting to see how he fares this season. I feel with their squad they’re the favorites out of the 3 promoted teams to go down in the first season up.
Relegation Prediction: Stoke City, Hull City and Crystal Palace.