FOLLOWING the exciting announcement of the English Premier League’s (EPL) return on June 17, the attention immediately turns to the pressing issues that remain for the world’s biggest and best league.
With the formalities of Liverpool’s title sure to be finalised soon after that date the main drama looks set to be at the foot of the EPL table, as multiple teams battle it out for survival from relegation.
While the leading football pundits such as Ryan Elliott and Tom Love have focused largely on the return of Germany’s Bundesliga of late, it won’t be long until the Premier League features heavily in their daily football tips.
Although question marks remain as to which teams will snap up the three remaining Champions League qualification places and the Europa League spot, the EPL relegation betting markets will be bustling in the coming weeks with no less than six teams still at risk of falling through the relegation trapdoor.
Below, we assess the chances of all six EPL sides staring down the barrel of the EFL Championship.
Daniel Farke’s men have been rooted to the foot of the EPL for some time now. The Premier League new boys stormed to the Championship title last season and their youthful side was tipped to make a positive impact on the top flight in 2019/20.
Unfortunately for the Canaries, their lack of investment in pre-season has cost them dear. Defensively, they remain porous and are the division’s lowest scorers too.
City face Southampton at home in their first game back. Anything less than a win will be curtains for the Norfolk side but games with Watford, Brighton and West Ham could reel in some of the teams above them if they can find some kind of form.
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa are currently two points adrift of EPL safety, but the Villa do have a game in-hand against the season’s overachievers, Sheffield United. Chelsea, Wolves and champions-elect Liverpool then await Villa after their home clash with the Blades. Three points against Chris Wilder’s men is a must to build any kind of momentum before clashes with three top-six sides.
The EPL schedulers may have played an absolute blinder here, with the final Matchweek 38 seeing Villa travel to West Ham United in what could yet be a ‘winner takes all’ encounter.
Bournemouth are perilously placed on the cusp of the relegation zone at present. Sitting in the final relegation spot but just two places and three goals behind 16th-placed West Ham United, there is still every opportunity for the Cherries to haul themselves out of the bottom three.
Home games against the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Southampton will be earmarked as six-pointers by boss, Eddie Howe.
Two of their last three games are Manchester City and Everton away, which could prove their undoing if survival is not assured by then.
The short-term appointment of former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson appeared to give Watford a significant bounce in the latter part of 2019. However, a slump in form prior to the pause of the campaign has left the Hornets just one goal away from the relegation zone.
The saving grace for Pearson’s men could be their reasonable defence, which has conceded fewer than all but one of the teams around them in the relegation dogfight.
Leicester, Burnley and Southampton are first up for Watford once the season resumes, with Pearson sure to be motivated to fight for all three points against his former employers. Seven or even nine points from these three games could tip the balance in Watford’s favour.
West Ham United are still one of the six EPL teams that could fall into the English second tier for 2020/21. Despite significant investment and a new stadium in Stratford, the Hammers still find themselves engulfed in the relegation battle. Conceding 50 goals in 29 games is one of the main reasons behind their demise.
Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea loom large on the fixture horizon for David Moyes’ men. If they cannot get themselves up for back-to-back London derbies a shock relegation could well be on the cards.
Last but by no means least, Brighton & Hove Albion are also well embroiled in the relegation scrap. The Sussex side hold a narrow two-point advantage over the rest of the teams featured, but this could be easily wiped out within the space of one round of games.
With Arsenal and Manchester United first up for Graham Potter’s men, things are likely to get worse before they get better for the Seagulls. The fixture list has not been kind to Albion, with Liverpool and Manchester City also looming large after a six-pointer with Norwich. Brighton may look in the strongest position at present, but their fixtures make them very vulnerable.
Who do you think will avoid the drop? And who do you think will be in the Championship next season? Let us know in the comments section below.