20. Hull City
If there is one team that looks completely unprepared for the new season, it has to be Hull City. Having gained promotion from the Championship through play-offs, the Tigers have an enormous task on their hands to stay up this season.
They are without a manager since Steve Bruce left, no first team signings so far, sold last season’s best player Mohamed Diamé, goalkeeper and defensive injury crisis leaving only thirteen fit players in the squad and their owners, the Allams, looking to sell the club.
Amidst this turmoil, it is hard to find a bright side and this makes them early favourites for relegation this season.
Under the expert guidance of Sean Dyche, Burnley won the Championship and were 4 points clear at the top and clinched promotion to the English top-flight first time of asking after being relegated in the 2014-2015 season. However limited budget and lack of impact signings might prove staying up an uphill task for the Clarets.
They were the lowest scorers in the league the last time they went down and evidence points to a similar result this time as well. A lot of the goalscoring requirement rests on club record signing and last season’s Championship top scorer with 25 goals Andre Gray, who has to adapt to the demands of PL and perform.
In spite of manager Sean Dyche’s ability to build good teams, Burnley will again find it difficult this season to survive in the English top flight and will very likely be relegated this season.
Ever since the 10th placed finish in 2011 under Steve Bruce, Sunderland have been the Harry Houdini of the league, spending most of their seasons fighting relegation. With the departure of Sam Allardyce for the England job, David Moyes enters the managerial vacancy as both the club and manager look to improve their respective reputations.
A well-drilled side under Allardyce, the team will look to sustain itself for the long term under Moyes’ stewardship. However, the Black Cats need Fabio Borini to step up or they need to buy a new striker to complement the peerless Jermain Defoe whose goals alone played a crucial role in their victorious fight against relegation.
With no major shakeup on the cards, Sunderland are set for another relegation fight and this time, they might come up short leading to relegation and the bitterness of seeing their arch rivals Newcastle United taking their place in the PL.
17. West Brom
West Brom’s start to the season will be accompanied by the growing discontent among supporters regarding the drab style of football that teams play under Tony Pulis, who for the 8th consecutive season has led a team to a bottom-half finish without getting relegated.
The Hawthorns scored the second-fewest goals in the league behind Aston Villa last season and with Matt Phillips the only addition so far, things could remain the same this year unless Salomón Rondón has a huge season. With the taking over of the club by self-professed football lover and businessman Guochuan Lai, things could be expected to change for the good in the long run.
However, in the short term with Tony Pulis at the helm, West Brom can be expected to have a dull season and get embroiled in a relegation battle with Sunderland, barely edging them off to stay up.Published 12 Aug 2016, 19:06 IST