The new Premier League season has kicked off and come May there will be three teams and three sets of fans crying their eyes out as the realization of Championship football suddenly kicks in. Last year saw Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich drop down to the second tier of English football, while Leeds, Fulham, and West Brom took their place. Below we are going to take a look at the six teams that we reckon will be scrapping it out to avoid the drop this season.
Fulham conceded just 48 goals in the Championship last season, but just four games into the new Premier League campaign they are getting a harsh lesson in just how tough life is in the Premier League. They have played four games so far against Arsenal, Leeds United, Aston Villa, and Wolves and have 0 points and a -8-goal difference to show for their troubles. Their defense has looked absolutely terrible, especially when they lost 3-0 to Villa, and Paddy Power has already seen enough and paid out everyone who placed a bet on Fulham to be relegated. In all honesty, we have to agree with Paddy Power and say that we just cannot see how they can stay up with the squad that they have. The last time Fulham were in the Premier League they spent over £100m and went straight back down. This time they did not spend anywhere near as much as that but, on their showing so far, the result at the end of the season will be the same.
Risk of relegation: 9/10
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West Brom finished second in the Championship to earn automatic promotion to the top-flight of English football, and they have a squad with some quality players in it. For example, the likes of Jake Livermore, Charlie Austin, and Ahmed Hegazy are three players with plenty of Premier League experience, while there are some very talented youngsters in the shape of Matheus Periera and Grady Diangana. The former scored 8 goals and provided 16 assists in the Championship last season, while the latter also chipped in with 8 goals. The Baggies managed to sign both of them permanently this summer, but they have not done much else in the transfer market. We feel that their squad is a bit short of quality, and they have shown that in their opening 4 matches – they have 1 point and have already conceded 13 goals. If they do not somehow tighten their defense, then Slaven Bilic will be taking his team back to the Championship after just one season.
Risk of relegation: 8/10
The Blades had a fantastic first season back in the Premier League and managed to finish 9th, despite only scoring 39 goals in their 38 matches. The key to their success was their tight defense; they only conceded 39 goals and the only teams to concede fewer goals were Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United. They have added to their defense this season in the shape of Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle from Derby County, but we think they will struggle to score goals this season and this has been highlighted by the fact that in their opening four games they have only scored one goal. If they pick up a few defensive injuries and continue to struggle in front of goal, then relegation could become a possibility.
Risk of relegation: 6/10
Burnley have been in the Premier League for four seasons now and have picked up more than 40 points in each campaign, which is an impressive feat considering the small budget that Sean Dyche has to work with. The key to their four year stay in the top flight of English football is the fact that they are well organized and very hard to break down. Towards the end of last season, they went on a 7-game unbeaten run, which included a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, only conceding 3 goals in that run. However, this season has got off to the worst possible start for them as they have lost their opening three matches, conceding 8 goals in the process. They will need the likes of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood to fire if they are to have another season in the Premier League next year. Can they do it? We are not too hopeful to be honest.
Risk of relegation: 6/10
Villa survived the drop by a solitary point last season and many fans like to suggest it was because of the defunct technology against Sheffield United that they managed to do so. However, Villa fans will tell you, and rightfully so, that they were wrongly denied a point against Crystal Palace earlier on in the season, so it swings and roundabouts. Due to their narrow escape last season, many bookies and pundits had them as one of the three favourites to go down. However, they had a very good transfer window and brought in the likes of Emi Martinez, Matty Cash, Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traore, and Ross Barkley on loan from Chelsea. To add to this, they managed to keep their star man, Jack Grealish. It has transformed them, and they currently have three wins from three matches, which includes a 7-2 demolition of defending champions Liverpool. If they keep playing like that then they should not be anywhere near relegation at the end of the campaign. Can they do it? Well, we really hope so because the Premier League needs historic clubs playing in it.
Risk of relegation: 5/10
Roy Hodgson’s Palace side started last season in good form, losing just two of their first eight matches, including a shock win over Manchester United, but things quickly went downhill and they found themselves down in 14th place come the end of the season. They managed to keep Wilfried Zaha for another season and signed Eberechi Eze from QPR, who scored 14 goals and provided 8 assists in the Championship last season. However, they did little other business in the transfer window. Palace have a solid defense, but they have an aging squad, and we reckon they could be in for a bit of a rude awakening this season, even though they beat Manchester United 3-1.
Risk of relegation: 6/10