Having already considered which sides are going to be challenging for honours at the top of the table, we now turn our attention to the battle for survival in next season’s Premier League.
The magical mark to stay up has often been set at 40 points but over the last 3 seasons, that figure has dropped to 35 or 36 points no doubt driven by the increasing dominance of the top 2 clubs.
How many points will be enough to avoid relegation and which teams have the squads to get there?
West Bromwich Albion – Relegation Odds
West Brom are favourites to make a return straight back down to the Championship. During the first decade of the 21st century, the Baggies were the archetypal yo-yo team and between 2002 and 2010 they were promoted to the Premier League four times and relegated back down again on three other occasions. They did, however, manage to sustain their Premier League status for 7 years thereafter until their relegation in 2018 and were unlucky not to be immediately promoted again having lost the playoff final to Villa in 2019 – it’s fair to say that there aren’t many boring seasons at the Hawthorns!
WBA have plenty of Premier League experience in their squad that might serve them well. The likes of Charlie Austin, Jake Livermore, Hal Robson-Kanu, Matt Philips and Kieren Gibbs are all aware of what the step-up to the top flight will involve but do they have the quality to stay there? If rumours are to believed the Baggies are also looking to bring in former Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel to add to that pedigree.
Other players looking to impress in their first season in the Premier League will include Matheus Pereira. The Brazilian winger scored 8 times and provided a further 16 assists in the Championship last season and how he adapts to the big time might be key to the Baggies survival chances. Another youngster who showed glimpses of his promise last year was Grady Diangana who spent the season on loan from West Ham. The Midlands club are now looking to make that deal a permanent one but may face competition from elsewhere.
Prediction: West Brom will certainly be difficult to beat. They lost only 7 times in the Championship last season but by the same token drew 17 times (both league highs). The question remains then whether they have enough quality to pick up vital wins? It looks unlikely that the Baggies will be making too many changes to the side that came up and it’s difficult to imagine them not at the very least being down there scrapping for survival come May.
Odds: William Hill have a very generous offer of @2.10 on West Bromwich to go straight back down. The bare facts of the matter are that 56% of newly promoted sides go straight back down so do yourself a favour and play the odds with this one!
Fulham – Relegation Odds
Sticking with the newly promoted teams, and the play-off winners Fulham will be many people’s favourites for an immediate return to the Championship. Credit must go to Scott Parker who turned things around so quickly following the Cottager’s relegation in 2019 however, keeping them in the Premier League again is likely to be an even greater challenge.
One thing that Parker has been keen to stress is that Fulham won’t be making the same mistakes as last time in trying to overhaul the squad that got them to this position in the first place. The West London side spent over £100 million pounds in bringing in 8 permanent signings and 5 high-profile loans during their last Premier League campaign but were relegated with nothing more than a whimper. This summer Fulham have already made Anthony Knockaert’s loan deal permanent while also being linked with a loan deal for Spurs’ young midfielder Oliver Skipp.
Fulham will once again depend a lot on the Championship’s top-scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic who scored over 40% of his team’s goals last season. The big Serb has also scored 21 Premier League goals to date so he is no stranger to finding the net at this level.
Prediction: Fulham have a good young squad and a good young manager but it remains to be seen whether they have quite the quality or experience to win enough Premier League points. Their promotion last year was built on impressive home form and they managed to score freely at Craven Cottage during 2019/20. It’s likely that they will find things tougher going in 2020-21 and they will need to learn quickly how to win ugly if they are to have any chance of staying up.
Odds: While Villa managed to buck the trend last year and just about survive having come up via the playoffs, Fulham will have to contest with the fact that since 1990, 62% of sides promoted as play-off winners have gone straight back down. Therefore, a bet at even money looks like good value for Fulham to be relegated in 2020-21.
Aston Villa – Relegation Odds
Villa managed to engineer last season’s great escape winning 8 points from their final 4 games to sneak ahead of Watford and Bournemouth. Staying in the Premier League for another season must have come as a massive relief for the Midlands club who had invested heavily in 2019 in a bid for survival.
Jack Grealish was the hero on the final day and much will depend on him again firstly staying at the club and assuming that he does playing the role of captain marvel a second time. In general though, Villa have a midfield capable of mixing it in the top flight with El Ghazi, Hourihane, McGinn, Trézéguet and Douglas Luiz all showing sufficient quality to play at this level.
Where Villa struggled last season was in finding a striker to score goals for them. Record signing Wesley was looking pretty good in the first half of the season before injury ended his debut campaign. Thereafter the back options of Mbwana Samatta and Keinan Davis managed just 3 goals between them which simply isn’t good enough. Don’t expect too much transfer activity at Villa park this summer unless they get a boatload of money from the sale of Grealish.
Prediction: When all is said and done Villa’s points haul of 35 in last year’s Premier League was the lowest total for a team to survive the drop in the last 10 years (West Ham gained 35 points in 2009-10) so even upping their game may not prove sufficient come the final reckoning. Dean Smith managed to shift his side’s tactics during the 2-month break and make them much harder to play through. It will be a tough ask to keep that going and to balance it out so that they maintain a threat to the opposition.
Odds: It’s no surprise that Villa are still amongst the favourites to be relegated in 2020-21 and given the uncertainty around the talismanic Jack Grealish’s future, the odds of 3.0 may well shorten before this elongated transfer window closes.
Crystal Palace – Relegation Odds
Another side threatened with the loss of their star player this summer is Crystal Palace. However, speculation surrounding the transfer of Wilfred Zaha is commonplace at this time of year but it seems like the Ivorian is determined to finally move to pastures new for 2020-21
The bottom line and one of the main reasons that Palace are being tipped for the drop is their terrible run of form at the end of the season that saw them lose 7 games on the trot. For a side built to defend, it didn’t help that they were experiencing an injury crisis at the back. Even so, with the short turnaround in Premier League seasons, Roy Hodgson has a massive job on his hands to turn things around and it seems unlikely that Palace will be able to bank on early season form to steer them clear of a relegation scrap this time around.
The Eagles are undoubtedly in need of some freshening up and their primary targets appear to be players who have had successful seasons in the championship including Brentford’s Ollie Watkins and Eberechi Eze. Both players are very much in demand and so Palace will need to splash the cash that could be raised from the sale of Zaha to bring them in. Of course, while both are talented players neither has experience in the top flight and therefore they represent something of a gamble.
Prediction: Unfortunately history suggests that sides who finish poorly in the previous Premier League season usually struggle in the following campaign – recent examples include Watford last season or WBA the year before that who were both relegated with exactly the same pattern of form and I think Palace could well follow suit in 2020-21.
Odds: Despite their late-season slump you can still get very generous odds of 3.25 on Palace to be relegated in the 2020-21 Premier League. Again, with the sale of their most valuable asset now imminent those odds could yet shorten dramatically and therefore they may be worth moving on early.
Other teams that may face relegation from the Premier League in 2020-21 include
Newcastle – there was a lot money placed on the Toon Army to be relegated last season following the departure of Rafa Benitez but Steve Bruce and his side proved the doubters wrong. Still, it’s difficult to imagine with all the fuss going on at boardroom level that the players’ performance on the pitch won’t be impacted and as such they are amongst the favourites for the drop again @3.25
Brighton – the Seagulls did just about enough following the restart to keep their heads above water last year. Graham Potter has got Brighton playing more attractive football these days and 41 points was a record haul for them in the Premier League. Still it’d be hard to imagine that they’ll not be back in the bottom third come the closing stages of the season and you can bet on them to go down @5.0
Leeds – You’ve heard the saying too big to go down but how about too big to go back down? Leeds certainly have the squad, the manager and the finances to give staying up a pretty good go but equally the Premier League is an unforgiving place and the Yorkshire club shouldn’t be expecting any favours from the established sides that they’ll be fighting against. You can bet on Leeds United’s renaissance to be a brief one @4.5
Sheffield United – One of the standout performers in last season’s Premier League but they struggled a little after the re-start falling towards the middle of the table. If that trend continues then they might well be in for a tougher time of it in 2020-21 as the dreaded 2nd season syndrome kicks in. You can pick-up a bet for them to be relegated @5.0