Sunday, November 19, 2017

Premier League Preview Part 3: Survival Battle

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We are two weeks into the 2017-18 English Premier League season. And believe it or not, it is quite easy to see a few tendencies already. Some streaks will not maintain and some teams will eventually break out. But with only 20 games being played out of a total of 380, we have enough evidence to predict which teams will go where once it’s all said and done.

In the third part of our preview, we will analyse which teams should fear relegation the most. One recently-promoted side already looks like a candidate to return to the Championship next year, but nothing has been set in stone. And at least five to six teams need to show improvements if they want to maintain an EPL spot after the 2018 World Cup.

Likeliest Candidate: Newcastle United

One would think that due to the club’s history, Newcastle United should maintain in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. However, that might not be the case in the coming years. And if we take the first two weeks of the season as the benchmark for their performance, then they look like the most likely candidate to return to the Championship in 2018.

Newcastle’s biggest problem lies on the strength of their squad, as it might not be good enough to compete in the Premier League. Even though they were relatively active in the transfer market, their biggest arrivals were Florian Lejeune, Jacob Murphy, and Mikel Merino, the latter on loan from Borussia Dortmund. Javier Manquillo and Joselu could be interesting additions as well, but none of these players are proven at the Premier League level. That could be problematic for them. Markets do not love their chances, as Newcastle are 9/4 to get back to the Championship after just one year in England’s top flight.

The Magpies have enough time to turn things around. But they need to do something before it’s too late.

Teams That Must Show Improvement

Bournemouth

Bournemouth lost against West Brom away and Watford at home. On the surface, the two losses do not look so bad. But both clubs are direct rivals in the fight against relegation, then it could be a cause for concern. Especially if Bournemouth have not been able to score a single goal yet. They are one of five teams who have not scored yet in two EPL matchweeks. And after two games, they appear to be one of the clubs with the biggest chances of getting relegated, as their 10/3 odds to return to the Championship suggest.

The Cherries finished ninth in the Premier League last season, but so far the 2016-17 campaign did not start as expected. And unless they find a way to turn things around soon, this could be a long year at Dean Court. One could say the team is talented enough to change the course of the season on time, but that does not seem likely based on their first two matches. Jermain Defoe and Asmir Begovic need to lead the club now that things have gotten tougher than expected.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton have grabbed headlines more than once due to their activity in the transfer market, and have broken the club’s record on several occasions due to their arrivals this summer. Matthew Ryan, Davy Pröpper and Jose Izquierdo should improve the side considerably, and some of the team’s other moves should increase the club’s depth. So at least on paper, they did everything the right way and transformed themselves from a Championship squad to a proper EPL team in two months.

However, the results have not indicated that. The Seagulls lost their first two EPL matches against Manchester City and Leicester City. To make things more complicated, their attacking line has not been a real threat and have not scored yet. The squad has talent, but the new players need to gel. And while time is on their side, they need to show improvement soon. Otherwise, they could dig themselves in a hole quite hard to get out of. For what is worth, Brighton currently are at 10/11 to get relegated this season.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace struggled with relegation all year long last season, and finished 14th in the standings with 41 points. And if we consider their first two performances as their benchmark, then things do not look good, especially if we consider they are 5/2 to get relegated once the season ends. Once again, Palace have all the makings of a team that will spend most of the year in the bottom part of the standings.

Just like Bournemouth and Brighton, Palace have not scored in their first two games. And unsurprisingly, both ended as defeats. Their season opener was an 0-3 loss against Huddersfield at home, and last week suffered a 0-1 loss against Liverpool at Anfield Road. That is not a good start. And if we consider the club did not make any notable additions during the summer, then things appear even more complicated for The Eagles.

One Team To Watch: Leicester City

We already mentioned Leicester City in Part 2 of our preview. We said the best-case scenario for them would be to reach the UEFA Europa League. So putting them here again would be what might happen on a worst-case scenario. Yes, The Foxes have a talented squad. But there is a chance they face a massive exodus before the transfer window ends.

AS Roma have tried to sign Riyad Mahrez all summer long. And in case he does not leave to Italy, then Arsenal have kept a close tab on him as well. Jamie Vardy could also leave. Danny Drinkwater has been a target for Chelsea and are reportedly closing in on the move. All those players are key for The Foxes, but that is not all. Kasper Schmeichel and Wilfred Ndidi are feasible targets for bigger clubs, too.

If most of those five players leave the club, then Leicester would be in for a long year. The Foxes do not have a lot of depth on the squad. And few teams in the world can bounce back if they lose their core. This is all pure speculation at the moment, but Leicester are one team to watch. Their transfer activity will be key to determine what they will do this season in the Premier League. So far, The Foxes are 20/1 to end in the Bottom 3 this season. Will they escape relegation and keep themselves in the EPL for at least another year?

Interesting Betting Odds To Watch

Newcastle are 9/4 to get back to the Championship

Leicester City are 20/1 to end in the Bottom 3 this season.

Crystal Palace are 5/2 to get relegated at the end of the season.

Brighton currently are at 10/11 to get relegated this season.

Bournemouth sit at 10/3 on their odds to return to the Championship.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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