Despite a number of players departing for pastures new to the Saudi Pro League, the Premier League is still the top domestic competition in the world. In fact, it will be for the foreseeable future despite the big spending that is taking place in the highest division of association football in the Saudi league system.
Given the prestige and the following of huge clubs in England’s top flight, it’s a division most of the top players in the world want to play in. Likewise, for any newly-promoted clubs, staying up is a necessity, while numerous relegation candidates from previous campaigns will be hoping they don’t get dragged into another battle down at the bottom this season. Relegation is certainly an alarming scenario for many club owners, with players on big wages needing to be offloaded and the lucrative nature of Premier League football going with it.
This season, while many people are discussing the Premier League title race and backing the bigger sides in terms of betting when it comes to predicting the eventual winner, fans of other clubs are hoping to avoid the drop and remain in the division next season. Given the competitive nature of league, there are already some strong relegation contenders that could be in for a gruelling season. Below is a look at some of the clubs that are likely to be down there when the last round of fixtures take place in May.
Luton Town need a miracle
Despite achieving an admirable promotion given their limited resources compared to many other sides in the Championship, Luton Town’s Premier League mission appears to be an incredibly tough one. The Hatters’ loyal fans will certainly be aware of that, with the newly-promoted side essentially having nothing to lose. While the signings of Ross Barkley and Tahith Chong are solid additions on paper, Rob Edwards and Luton’s hierarchy will be fully aware just how difficult it will be to stay up this season. Should they achieve it, then it’s as good as winning the league for a club that was playing non-league football not so long ago.
Sheffield United are arguably weaker now
Somewhat unsurprisingly, given the amount of notable departures at Sheffield United, the Blades are another promoted side that are heavily fancied for the drop. Paul Heckingbottom’s men appear to have the grit and determination that will be required during an undoubtedly hard campaign, but there appears to be a distinct lack of quality within their ranks. The runners-up in the Championship last season have lost a number of key performers from their promotion-winning campaign, although the signings of Cameron Archer and Gustavo Hamer have softened the blow somewhat. Still, Sheffield United are arguably weaker now than they were last season, leaving them in a perilous position in arguably the most competitive top-flight division around.
Everton are still a mess
While Sean Dyche’s expertise in relegation battles will certainly aid their cause, Everton are a club with deep issues. Starting the season with some notable losses, the Toffees are clearly in yet another sticky situation. A lot of faith is being place in the signing of Udinese striker Beto, although the new frontman could take some time to adapt to a completely new environment. Make no mistake about it, an alarming lack of goals is an issue that just won’t go away for Everton.
Wolves and Bournemouth have two new managers
Wolves used to be a club many other sides in England looked to emulate, but ongoing financial issues have resulted in an uncertain future for the club. This has resulted in the shock departure of manager Julen Lopetegui and a number of key players, with former Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil taking charge as a seemingly much cheaper option. The club haven’t strengthened where they needed to, fans are beginning to air their concerns, and a number of poor performances highlight the demise of a club that was on an upward trajectory not so long ago.
While Wolves’ issues are clear, O’Neil’s former club, Bournemouth, have made some impressive additions that could make them a surprise package this season. Many experts disagree, though, with the Cherries being led by a new manager with no Premier League experience in Andoni Iraola. Bournemouth’s defensive issues and lack of goals are also evident, leaving the south coast club with a big task ahead. Whether or not the former Rayo Vallecano manager is the man to save them remains to be seen.
Kompany’s Burnley will surely struggle
The Championship winners that are being led by Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany, Burnley face a real challenge this season. The former City captain’s credentials as a manager are clear to see and his leadership will certainly improve their chances as the season progresses, but the Clarets are shipping goals, they aren’t scoring many, and they appear to be short in key areas in their quest for survival.