SO who takes the drop this season from the Premier League? Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) eyes up the odds for us.
Premier League | Relegation
This season’s relegation scrap looks as trappy as ever with a number of candidates in the mix to take the dreaded drop towards the Championship.
In the Bet365 betting only one side are odds on and that’s the team who after 90 minutes on the final day of the Championship sat top – Watford. Atdhe Nuhiu’s stoppage team equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday on the second day of May pushed Watford down into second place and gifted the title to Bournemouth.
Some see Watford as certs to go down. I don’t. They’re an unknown quantity having brought in 10 new players (at the time of writing) and a manger since May. The new recruits exude experience. Eight of them are over the age of 25 and most of them done time at top clubs in the major leagues and at international level.
Some things never change at Watford though and once again they have a new man in the dugout. Step forward Quique Sanchez Flores. On paper a very impressive addition to the club, Flores was an integral part of the revival of Atletico Madrid in recent years, coaching them to the Europa League in 2010. However things haven’t gone as smoothly since with an unsuccessful time in the United Arab Emirates and at Getafe. He’s a concern but definitely has the ability to mould well into the Premier League, just like the side he’s managing.
Norwich are next and again I’m reluctant to get involved. It was an impressive effort for them to return at the first time of asking last season and I think their squad looks decent. Youssouf Mulumbu looks a concrete addition and his vast Premier League experience should aid the cause.
Vast Premier League experience is not something their manager Alex Neil has. The Scot, for me, was the story of last season. Inspirational at newly-promoted Hamilton where he lifted them to top spot in Scotland deep into the autumn, his move to Norwich in January worked a treat as the club went from seventh to third there.
I’m an enormous Neil fan but what concerns me is whether his rise is happening all a bit too fast. It’s a bit like being in a band and playing at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut one summer and then Wembley Arena the next. This is an enormous challenge for a guy aged just 34. Jesus, I hope he succeeds.
Another incredible story from last season was Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s men had romanticists starry-eyed after winning the Championship title. Fittingly in stoppage time on the final day of the season.
A tough season awaits in my view. There’s virtually no Premier League experience in this team and that includes the manager. The step up will be steep and when compared to last year’s promoted trio they most resemble Burnley for me.
One things for sure, they’ll have a go. 98 goals was the highest tally in the division for nine years, but crucially it’s been six years since the champions conceded more than Bournemouth’s tally of 45. Over 2.5 Goals looks the bet to be on when The Cherries turn up to play.
I’m very fond of the city Sunderland. I have friends there and have had a few good night out there, but for me the club is now starting to stink the place out in the Premier League.
They’ve had four consecutive seasons in the bottom eight and a fifth looks an inevitability. Unlike most I’m not that enamoured by the decision to keep Dick Advocaat in the job. The 67 year old looked ideal for injecting some new chutzpah into a listless campaign last year, but to appoint him full-time? Very risky for me.
Advocaat hardly pulled up trees in his last three posts at PSV, AZ Alkmaar and Serbia and faces a huge task here in the brutal, relentless, fast-paced world of the Premier League. Why not someone fresh and energised like Sean Dyche?
Admirably the Black Cats have looked to strengthen their defence with the purchase of Adam Matthews from Celtic and Younes Kaboul from Tottenham. At the other end of the pitch Jeremain Lens has been brought in from Dynamo Kiev and a heap of pressure will be heading his way. No team won fewer games than the Mackems last season and if the 27 year old doesn’t take to the division a brutal season awaits for the club.
Aston Villa are a bigger price this season for relegation than they were last, I can’t seem to work that out. To be fair though they may have been eased in recent days as the club have been hugely involved in the transfer market.
Like Newcastle under Alan Pardew they have jumped into the French market to snare a number of players. I won’t claim to have detailed knowledge of these new faces but the vibes around Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Ayew seem positive. The club have also snapped up Blackburn’s Rudy Gestede, a player who notched 20 times in the Championship last season.
The picture certainly looks rosier than it did two weeks ago after the departures of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph but Tim Sherwood will have to use all his positivity to rouse his troops this season. Will his approach be as effective over a whole season? We’re certainly going to find out.
Leicester look a decent bet at 11/4. I hate to be part of the masses but I can’t say I saw the logic in appointing Claudio Ranieri as the club’s new manager. He seems the antithesis of Nigel Pearson’s straight-forward in-your-face English approach.
While The Foxes’ remarkable great escape was probably the best we’ve ever seen in the Premier League, let’s not forget they were the least successful club in the division for vast swathes of the campaign last season. They went 13 games without a win between late-September and late-December and then eight between mid-January and early-April.
The loss of Esteban Cambiasso will be a sore one. The veteran was quite literally a driving force in the side last season and his influence will be missed on and off the pitch. New signing Shinji Okazaki will be required to continue the excellent goalscoring form he had at Mainz.
West Brom and Newcastle may struggle this season but at 5/1 they’re not big enough to get excited about. Tony Pulis has recruited James Chester and James McLean for the new season but the fact QPR scored more goals than them last year will worry him. New signing Rickie Lambert is interesting but I’d worry about his confidence after a disastrous heartbreaking year at Liverpool.
I’ve always been a big fan of Steve McClaren but his career has been on a downward spiral for five years now. His spell at Derby ended in awful circumstances in May and he needs to rediscover what made him succeed at Middlesbrough and FC Twente.
The signing of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is a fascinating one. I can see it being a huge success or a stain on the club. The result of that may define whether Newcastle finish Top 10 or bottom five.
West Ham greatly interest me at 7/1. I’ve felt this for weeks and their recent Europa League exploits only solidify my view. This is a team that fell off a cliff after an outstanding first half of the season.
From Christmas Day onwards they picked up just 16 points from a possible 63. Their figures read P21 W3 D7 L11. That’s a Points Per Game (PPG) ratio of 0.76. That is easily relegation form friends.
The parting with Sam Allardyce was inevitable from a long way out last season but history tells us it’s an incredible risky move. Blackburn went from 10th to 15th after his departure and then eventually landed in the second tier. As did Newcastle the season after Allardyce’s departure. Bolton were left in lofty seventh position when he departed for the North East and the pattern continues with Notts County and Blackpool. Why should this be any different?
The man they’ve brought in of course is Slaven Bilic, a manager totally unproven in the Premier League. A man who was sacked from Lokomotiv Moscow after they finished in their worst position in a couple of decades. A man who eked no improvement from Besiktas in two seasons there. This looks a huge risk.
Their Europa League results so far have been diabolical but if they do progress to the group stages that will harm their Premier League form even further. For me they have to be backed at a sultry 7/1.
At the prices West Ham and Leicester attract me as single bets but I’ll throw my other candidates into combination bets.
English Premier League – West Ham to be relegated (7/1 Bet365)
English Premier League – Leicester to be relegated (11/4 Bet365)
English Premier League Relegation Treble – Sunderland/Bournemouth/Watford (25/1 Bet365)
English Premier League Relegation Treble – Leicester/Sunderland/Bournemouth (50/1 Bet365)
English Premier League Relegation Treble – Leicester/Sunderland/West Ham (150/1 Bet365)
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