The new Premier League season is just a month away and once the dust has settled on the European Championships, attention will turn to the domestic season. The transfer merry-go-round is already in full swing as clubs look to boost their squads ready for a long campaign, and with new eras beginning at several top clubs it promises to be the most exciting Premier League season in many a year.
Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola will start the season at Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, while Leicester look to retain their title and the likes of Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool will aim to have a say in the final shake up. If it’s competitive at the top, it’s just as tight down the bottom, and there are a host of clubs that will start the season targeting the magical 40 point mark. Aston Villa, Norwich and Newcastle dropped out of the top flight last term and they’ll be replaced by Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull this time around. The latter pair were only relegated last year and have bounced straight back, while Boro make a long-awaited return after seven years in the Championship.
Bookmakers have already priced up the odds for relegation and as expected those three feature heavily at the top of the market, along with Premier League bottom half regulars. Bournemouth and Watford showed last year though that teams that come up often do well in their first season in the big time, so there are no guarantees for top flight regulars that the promoted trio will struggle, particularly as Hull and Burnley have recent Premier League experience.
Newly Promoted Teams
Burnley have been made favourites by the majority of bookies, with a best price of -110 about them making a swift return to the Championship. They made a good fist of survival under Sean Dyche in the 2014/15 season, gaining 33 points and being relegated with just five points fewer than Aston Villa in 17th. Much will depend on the signings the Clarets make during the summer, but the core of the squad remains from that previous experience so they’ll know exactly what’s required this time around.
Hull are next at +100 but they also stuck with the manager and most of the squad since relegation last term, and Steve Bruce’s men eventually did the business via the play offs. It was something of a surprise that they fell into the relegation battle at all in 2014/15, and they have enough about them to be competitive, especially if they can bring in a little bit of quality in the transfer window.
Middlesbrough are the outsider of the three promoted sides at +138 and coupled with their lack of recent Premier League experience, they make fair appeal. However, they look to have a sizeable transfer budget, they already had arguably the best squad in the Championship, and in Aitor Karanka they have an excellent manager that thrives on organisation. With the feelgood factor in full swing it would be no great surprise to see the Smoggies survive.
The Usual Suspects
If anything it will be the sides that are usually there or thereabouts that should be worries, and time could be coming to an end for West Brom in the Premier League, who are +250 with BetVictor to suffer the drop.
Yes, in Tony Pulis they have a manager well-versed in Premier League survival, as he proved with Stoke over so many years, but a lack of quality at the Hawthorns could signal trouble next season. They reached 39 points (and safety) at the start of March with a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United, but promptly went on to go nine games without a win for the rest of the season. Five defeats and four draws saw them eventually finish with 43, just six points ahead of Newcastle.
It will be difficult for Pulis to attract top players to West Brom, and much may depend on how they start the season. A first six games against Palace, Everton, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, West Ham and Stoke looks reasonable on paper, but a bad run of results there could leave the Baggies in trouble when they face the big boys as the campaign progresses.
Eddie Howe earned enough plaudits for his sides football last season to see him touted for the vacant England job, but the Premier League is unforgiving and it should be remembered that despite a wonderful year, Bournemouth only finished five points ahead of the drop zone in 16th. It’s true that they reached 38 points (and relative safety) by early March, but they lost six of the last eight games to finish with a total of just 42.
Second season syndrome could bite Bournemouth this year and bring them back down to earth. After the meteoric rise up the leagues they played on adrenaline for much of last season, with that feelgood factor carrying them through. It’s not always easy for a squad to raise themselves again for the following year, and it might be a tough campaign for Howe.
They start with Manchester United before away trips to Crystal Palace and West Ham, and with Manchester City and Everton also in their first six, it’s a tricky start for the Cherries.
West Brom to be Relegated from the Premier League
Bournemouth to be Relegated from the Premier League