The start of the new Premier League season brings optimism and excitement to the majority of fans across the country. Prospects of a top half finish, European qualification, or even a title challenge makes the long summer wait for football just about bearable.
However for some, the new Premier League season symbolises the resumption of last year’s struggle, a fight for survival – the unwinnable war.
Then there are the promoted new boys, the traditional sacrificial lambs, whose finances, players and fitness are simply overmatched in the brutal world of Premier League football.
This year’s most obvious candidate for relegation will be Burnley. Priced as low as 1/2 with some bookmakers, Burnley’s squad is severely lacking both in quality and numbers. It will surely take a superhuman effort from the excellent Sean Dyche to lead his troops out of the Premier League firing line.
The bookies next two favourites for relegation are QPR and Leicester at 2/1 and 5/2 respectively. These odds seem extremely short for QPR when considering the squad they possess. Taarabt, Barton, Wright Phillips, and Ferdinand are far from relegation fodder, and with the right tactics the ‘hoops should be aiming for a top half finish.
Leicester City however do not have as much quality and face a season of struggles. After dominating the Championship last year they have failed to sign enough players with true Premier League pedigree. It has been proven season after season that a great Championship team will very rarely beat the drop in the Premier League
Next are the weakest established Premier League teams. West Brom are priced as short as 3/1 for the drop. They should have enough quality to avoid the drop and with the extremely steady Alan Irvine as manager, but the Premier League relegation can be unpredictable.
Crystal Palace are also as short as 3/1 but Eagles fans should be optimistic that they can continue their positive momentum from last season, under the guidance of the excellent Tony Pulis.
Last year’s survivors Sunderland and West Ham are next favourites for the drop, but both have added quality to their squads. West Ham in particular will be very difficult to beat at home with their direct style of play and are not in serious danger of relegation. .
The final realistic candidates are Southampton priced at 11/2. A few months ago most people would have laughed at the prediction of Southampton being relegated. Following a turbulent summer in which their squad has been largely decimated, losing Shaw, Lallana, Lambert and many more, Southampton now have arguably the third weakest squad in the league. For this reason they are serious candidates for the drop, and will have to outperform to remain a Premier league outfit next year.