There is always immense hype before football season begins. Normally two questions are thrown around the most by pundits and supporters alike. These being, which team will win the league? Which teams will face relegation?
Newly promoted teams in Aston Villa, Norwich City and Sheffield United face the hardest task of them all – making the jump from the Championship to the Premier League. Just ask Cardiff and Fulham fans from last year.
I am going to explore five teams who could be facing the drop to the second division in May next year.
16th – Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace have lost one of their star players and local talent in Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United, although they managed to keep Wilfried Zaha by inflating his price.
The money they received for the Wan-Bissaka transfer just wasn’t reinvested in the team. They signed 31-year-old ‘keeper Stephen Henderson, who has played his whole career mostly in the second and third division. They have also sealed the permanent transfer of Ghanaian forward Jordan Ayew from Swansea after his loan last season. Ayew, though, is a player who did not set the world alight.
Now, they do have a worthy right-back in Joel Ward filling in that absent position, so that isn’t a major concern. However, goals are a greater concern for the London club.
Other than Zaha they have Christian Benteke who has scored four goals in two seasons as a centre-forward, and Ayew who scored once last year on loan. Not to mention they have sent Norwegian forward Alexander Sørloth on loan to Trabzonspor. Gary Cahill and Victor Camarasa will ease the supporters’ stresses. But, the comfortable 12th position finish of last year seems a distant memory, as they face a tough season ahead.
17th – Southampton
Southampton have been slowly stumbling in the past few seasons now and, all I can predict for them is to most likely continue that downward spiral. They have recruited interestingly this season.
Danny Ings comes in after a somewhat successful loan last campaign. They need him scoring 15+ goals if they want to avoid the relegation battle.
Che Adams will also help ease the goal-scoring burden on Ings, however, he has no Premier League experience, so his arrival raises more questions than answers. The club have brought in some flair too with the arrival of Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liege, but again this is a big step up from the Belgian League.
Targett (Aston Villa), Davis (Rangers), Rose (Walsall), and Clasie (AZ Alkmaar) have left. The positive is they have retained some talented players in Redmond, McCarthy, Højbjerg, Valery, Stephens, Romeu and Ward-Prowse.
Like Norwich City, they can potentially finish a lot higher in the league but they have been stagnating for numerous seasons now, and even though I don’t think they will be relegated, they won’t be comfortably safe either.
18th – Norwich City
This club was so nearly off the list even though I do have them occupying a relegation spot. I feel Norwich are a team that could finish in a spot between 11th and 20th. They have an incredible mix on brilliant young talents in Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Jordan Lewis, Onel Hernandez as well as consolidating journeymen in Moritz Leitner and Teemu Pukki.
Pukki scored 29 goals last season in the Championship as they finished top of the table. However, the Finnish striker will find it harder this season as he faces some of the best defenders in the world. He will have help from Swiss forward Josip Drmic, who has signed on a free transfer from German club Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Norwich have also added Patrick Roberts on loan from Manchester City as well as steady full-back in Sam Byram from West Ham. The team scored an astonishing 93 goals and conceding 57 goals last season.
The reason why this side could finish 11th or 20th will come down to how their players from last season adapt to the physicality and fast-paced Premier League football. If they adapt quickly, then expect Norwich to be comfortable in the league, but if they get off to a slow start, then the Canaries will be looking at a placing in the bottom section of the table.
19th – Brighton & Hove Albion
I really like Brighton & Hove Albion as a club and what they have done to make it in the Premier League and stay there for the past few years is a success story in itself. We cannot deny they struggled last year; some will say they deserved the drop more than Cardiff. We can only ask what went wrong.
Well when you score 35 goals across 38 games, you know you are going to struggle. Forwards in Jürgen Locadia and Florin Andone didn’t produce the goods last year and new boy Alireza Jahanbakhsh flopped sensationally.
The Seagulls also had a negative goal difference of 25, which frankly isn’t ideal. They have strengthened by signing Aaron Webster from Bristol City however that is a direct
Leandro Trossard is an exciting addition who scored 14 goals and assisted 8 for Genk in the Belgian Pro League last campaign. They have added Naul Maupay from Brentford, who did score 20+ goals in the EFL Championship.
However, with players like Anthony Knockaert, Alexis MacAllister and Bruno (who has joined the coaching staff) all leaving this summer, I can only see Brighton facing a relegation battle.
20th – Sheffield United
Sheffield United look the most likely to finish 20th this season in their Premier League return. I am sorry to the Blade’s fans who disagree with me or hoping to not see their team on this list. The club were brilliant last season in the Championship as they finished second to only Norwich.
They have made eight signings which is a good amount of business for a club recently promoted to the Premier League and don’t have a lot of money to spend. Talented winger Callum Robinson has signed for £8 million from Preston North End, and Oli McBurnie for £18 million from Swansea City are the notable mentions.
The Blades have also added some experience in ex-academy man Phil Jagielka, who was a free agent, while Lys Mousset from Bournemouth does have some Premier League exposure. Robinson and McBurnie are risky buys, and considering Jagielka is a 36-year-old defender who has had injury problems of late, I am worried about Sheffield’s safety.
They do face Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all before the end of October as well as other top sides. I think we will find Sheffield propping up the table by the end of October at the latest.
Looking at the upcoming season that is about to unfold I predict that Norwich, Brighton and Sheffield will be facing the drop to the Championship. Nevertheless, with the Premier League, it’s always hard to exactly tell how the teams will fair.
We could be talking about the woes of Aston Villa or Bournemouth come Christmas. Even comfortable teams such as Everton, West Ham and Wolves could all stumble in certain periods. For now, one can only speculate.