Premier League 2019/20: 3 early favourites for relegation

Could Newcastle find themselves in trouble in the upcoming season?
Could Newcastle find themselves in trouble in the upcoming season?

It’s almost hard to believe, but we’re just 4 weeks away from the beginning of the 2019/20 Premier League season. All of the usual news items have been flying around over the last few weeks and most of them have been focused on the transfer market and on the teams at the top of the league, but what about those at the bottom?

While 2019/20 will undoubtedly bring glory to some clubs, on the flip side it’ll only bring misery to others. With the Premier League now the richest in the world by far, the consequences of suffering relegation to the Championship can be devastating – just ask Fulham, Cardiff and Huddersfield, all of whom went down at the end of 2018/19.

So who’s going to be in trouble in the upcoming season? Right now it’s hard to look past the following 3 sides.

#1 Newcastle United

This man will no longer be seen on the Toon touchline
This man will no longer be seen on the Toon touchline

Despite being one of the best-supported clubs in England, and finishing in a respectable 13th place last season, many observers are already predicting doom and gloom for Newcastle United in 2019/20 and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s already been a summer of disaster for the Magpies, as manager Rafael Benitez decided to abandon ship in June, and as of writing, they haven’t appointed his successor.

Current rumours have Steve Bruce in pole position for the role, although how popular the current Sheffield Wednesday boss would be at St. James’s Park is up in the air given his history as Sunderland boss some years ago. And more to the point, Sheffield Wednesday may be unwilling to let him go – and the longer this saga runs on, the more disruption it’ll cause for Newcastle’s pre-season.

Add in the fact that they’ve lost their two top scorers from last season in Ayoze Perez, who has signed for Leicester, and Salomon Rondon, who has moved back to parent club West Brom, and things look even more worrying.

Unless a new owner can swoop in to buy the club from chairman Mike Ashley – who has again shown no signs of spending big in the transfer market to strengthen his side – the Magpies could find themselves in deep trouble come the end of 2019/20.

Also check out: Premier League Premier League Table Champions League table

#2 Sheffield United

Do Sheffield United rely too much on veteran striker Billy Sharp?
Do Sheffield United rely too much on veteran striker Billy Sharp?

It’s never easy for a promoted team to thrive in the Premier League, and most of the time it’s tricky for the sides who come up from the Championship to even survive, such is the gulf in class between the two competitions.

Last season saw two promoted sides – Fulham and Cardiff – go straight back down, and in 2019/20, it’s Sheffield United – who finished second in the Championship – who I can see struggling rather than fellow newcomers Aston Villa and Norwich City.

Why’s this? There’s a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s notable that of the clubs at the top of the Championship, it was the Blades who claimed promotion with the meanest defence in the league, as they conceded just 41 goals in their 46 games, an impressive feat indeed.

Historically though, sides who succeed in the Championship primarily due to their defence rather than attack don’t do as well in the Premier League; Cardiff, for instance, conceded just 39 in their promotion season only to leak 69 in the Premier League – simply put, Premier League teams punish mistakes far more ruthlessly than Championship ones do.

Then there’s the fact that their top striker Billy Sharp – who plundered 24 goals in the Championship last season, a tremendous return – is already 33 and is completely unproven at the Premier League level. True, Sharp could surprise people, but prior to last season, he hadn’t really been a reliable source of goals in the Championship either.

Chris Wilder is clearly an excellent boss – the job he did at Northampton Town prior to his move to United proved that – and he’s worked wonders at the Blades, but with no proven Premier League-level signings to date, the only conclusion is that United are likely to struggle in 2019/20.

#3 Brighton and Hove Albion

Can Graham Potter keep Brighton up again?
Can Graham Potter keep Brighton up again?

Many fans felt that Brighton did well to stay in the Premier League after their debut season there in 2017/18, so for the Seagulls to survive again in 2018/19 was an impressive feat indeed. Unfortunately, their season wasn’t exactly impressive – they won just 3 of their last 23 games and secured survival by just 2 points, a run which cost boss Chris Hughton his job.

A lot of the issues with Brighton last season came from their lack of goals; new signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh failed to score a single goal and they only managed a total of 35 all season, 13 of which came from veteran striker Glenn Murray, who at aged 35, is getting no younger.

Brighton have also taken a big risk in their new managerial appointment; Graham Potter brings an excellent reputation with him from his work in Sweden with Ostersund, a side that he helped to climb through two divisions into the Swedish top flight. But while that’s all well and good – and Potter’s style of football was to play an attractive passing game – Swedish football isn’t close to the same level as the game in England.

And in reality, Potter’s single season at Swansea wasn’t all that impressive; the Swans only finished 10th last season after spending a decent amount of money following their Premier League relegation and lost nearly as many games as they won while also shipping 62 goals.

Potter might surprise people yet – since he moved to Brighton the club have signed Leandro Trossard for £18 million in an attempt to strengthen their side – but the truth is that they struggled last season and probably need a new striker, and unless they find one it’s hard to see them avoiding a relegation battle in 2019/20 too.

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Edited by Debjyoti Samanta
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