Every season there’s extensive discussion in the media and among fans as to which Premier League teams will end up in the relegation zone.
This season the debate seems to have begun even earlier than usual, with Sunderland manager David Moyes admitting that his team would have to struggle to avoid relegation before the competition had even begun.
Although many criticised Moyes for being defeatist, he claimed he was only being realistic. Betting websites that offer the very latest odds on which teams are most likely to face relegation are still placing the Black Cats among those most likely, alongside other perennial underdogs like Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion, and the three sides that only recently came up into the premiership: Hull City, Burnley and Middlesbrough.
Moyes’ lads have been bumping around at the bottom of the league so far this season, and it’s going to take a spectacular upturn in their fortunes to avoid the drop. Their strongest card is striker Jermain Defoe, but one great player can’t carry a club single-handed.
Albion was once the archetypal yo-yo club, having been promoted four times and relegated three times between 2000 and 2010. They’ve held their place in the premiership for six seasons now, sometimes only by the skin of their teeth. With a poor showing so far this time out, their luck may have finally run out.
The Potters had a good season in 2015-16, finishing ninth, but like West Bromwich, they’ve been struggling this time around. A weak defence and not much in the way of attack has left Stoke unable to gain much momentum, and manager Mark Hughes must be fearing his job is on the line unless he can pull off a miracle in extra time.
Management uncertainty has dogged the Tigers this season, since Steve Bruce’s dramatic falling out with the club’s owners left Mike Phelan in charge on a caretaker basis. Yet Hull started out well, and although they then hit a losing streak, they were unlucky in being drawn against a run of titans: Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. There’s still time for them to turn it around and make a respectable finish to the season.
Sean Dyche has rebuilt Burnley from the ground up, and his level-headed attitude has done wonders for the club. In return the owners have stuck by him despite the Clarets 2015 relegation, and were rewarded by a return to the premiership the following season. They’re not cup-winning material just yet, but they at least stand a good chance of holding their ground.
Boro are back in the Premier League after seven years in the Championship and they’re determined to fight to stay there. They made a strong start but will still struggle to keep out of the drop zone.
Other clubs that may find themselves in the bottom three come the season’s end include Swansea, Bournemouth and West Ham. Any team that doesn’t reach the forty point safety line is in danger, but as always, time will tell.