Who bet on Hull City going down last season? We saw a few 5/1 odds, and even a 6/1. Pretty tasty considering that Steve Bruce’s side faced Louis van Gaal’s top heavy Manchester United side on the last day of the season, needing nothing but a win to keep their slim survival hopes alive. Newcastle and Sunderland, the only catchable pair, must have looked at that with genuine optimism. Plenty of happy punters cashed in that day, including we’re sure, a fair few from Tyne and Wear.
Talking of good odds, we bet Leicester City caused a number of bookies headaches, having to shell out after a miraculous escape in the second half of the season. Now, with the 2015/16 campaign ready to fire, a new batch of teams have been singled out for a horror dogfight at the foot of the table. Leicester, now under former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri, are tipped to be in the mix once again however, along with the three promoted sides, and a few other shaky clubs. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘contenders’, and see if we can’t fathom some predictions before the relegation madness takes hold.
Ranieri, with his stunning resume, has not been able to tempt Leicester City’s player of the year, Esteban Cambiasso, to remain at the club for next season. This will surely not bode well for the upcoming campaign, with his cut and thrust from midfield sure to be sorely missed. Four relative unknowns (and Robert Huth) have joined on permanent deals so far, but fans will be optimistic considering Ranieri’s amazing eye for talent. Then-youngsters Petr Cech, Arjen Robben, Frank Lampard and William Gallas being just some of his captures when in West London. The bookies surely won’t be providing good pro-relegation odds here, and we agree.
Bournemouth, Championship winners of last, have been busy, and perhaps a bit more mainstream. Goalkeeping pair Artur Boruc and Adam Federici are both very well known on in the top flight, and with record signing Tyrone Mings arriving from Ipswich Town, along with the veteran Sylvain Distin, manager Eddie Howe is clearly preparing a new backline for the rigours of the Premier League. Upfield, the arrivals of Christian Atsu from Chelsea, and Ivory Coast striker Max Gradel, will be of real excitement to the fans. It won’t be easy, and it will be uncomfortable, but we reckon they’ve as good a chance of any of the smaller sides to stay up.
There is concern for Aston Villa,however. With the departures of both Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, Tim Sherwood has been deprived of his main assets. New signing Jordan Ayew needs a big season, as does defensive recruit Idrissa Gueye. The returning talent have a tough season ahead, and we’re tipping them to be a not-so-dark horse for the drop.
Watford, meanwhile, are perhaps more obvious relegation fodder. A new boss, loads of new players needing to gel, and dear Heurelho Gomez in goal; the Hornets are in for a tricky return to the Premier League, and are our tip for a rock bottom finish. Will you bet on them for the drop?
Sunderland and Newcastle have taken up a slightly better orbit in the close season. With Dick Advocaat and Steve McClaren arriving at the respective helms, and some really interesting signings between the pair; things are looking up for the sides. Norwich, meanwhile, have landed back in the top flight with a strikingly similar squad to the one relegated back in 2013/14. This could either be a good or bad thing for manager Alex Neil, who chose not to dismantle the side he took from Neil Adams in January. A team that really know one another is a real plus, especially when the going gets tough. But they do have one Ricky Van Wolfswinkel back up top…
There’s always one surprise struggler, and we’re tipping Swansea City to experience a difficult time this season. Yes, they did brilliantly last year, and have kept their first eleven in its entirety; but it all seemed too good to be true – and certainly too good to keep going. What’s a relegation feeling if not controversial! You heard it here first.