With the Premier league season now well and truly underway, lets see who is going to beat the drop, and more importantly who isn’t.
Another season and yet more disappointment on the Toon. Despite a new manager in Steve McClaren, and big money signings in Wijnaldum and Mitrovic the Gordie faithful are yet to see much to be positive about. Coming off of a poor pre season, Newcastle had a disappointing loss to Swansea and a draw against a struggling Southampton side and nothing much to be happy about, particularly the terrible performance of Daryl Janmaat.
However, there have only been three games so far, one of which Wijnaldum scored in, and given the pedigree of those two signings have from playing in Europe I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a matter of settling in. At least the investment is being made in Newcastle which isn’t something that’s been said of the Ashley era before this summer. If those two players play as well as they did at their previous clubs they’ll stay up.
Verdict – Will Survive, just need to settle down
Aston Villa are another side similar to Newcastle who probably shouldn’t be battling for their safety again, but no matter how optimistic you are you simply cannot sell your spine and be certain it will turn out fine. The sales of Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke have left gaping holes in the Villa squad. To be fair to Tim Sherwood, the Villains have bought wisely and Micah Richards is in my mind an improvement anyway, the likes of Rudy Gestede and Jordan Veretout are also good players for sure, but Benteke and Delph quality… i’m not convinced. I think they’ll be fine, and they have started well with a win against Bournemouth. However, it was a much needed overhaul this summer in the midlands and ideally it should go well.
Verdict – Should Survive unless signings turn bad.
Villa’s rivals the Baggies will also be hoping this season won’t be their last in the top flight. Under the stewardship of Tony Pulis, West Brom have come a long way but that’s not to say they are in the clear. Though they were relatively safe last year their investment has been poor and even though players like James Chester and James McClean are quite good, signing relegated players has never worked before and it’s not going to work this time either. There is a reason the same players get relegated again and again and you can’t get out of trouble by buying a fallen club’s stars. They may not go down, but I think even Tony Pulis may struggle to keep them up if form goes against them.
Verdict – Pulis will probably get them through it, but a battle is likely.
Traditionally the team that comes up through the Play-offs survives, maybe out of some form of carry over momentum. However, with Norwich it may be a struggle. Alex Neil is an inexperienced manager which is usually a bad sign in the Premier league, and I have a feeling he will be lucky to still be the manager at the end of the season, as we see with so many talented managers who fall by the wayside.
However, credit must go to the canaries that they have probably the best promoted midfield i’ve seen. Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey are as dynamic as any pair, and flair players like Redmond and Hoolahan are rare in lower table teams. If the rest of their team can keep up with their middle, they could just about survive.
Verdict – Survive by the skin of their teeth
Many clubs have a stormer of a first season, outperform expectations, invest a lot of money and get overconfident, then find themselves back in the championship next season. Leicester are not this team. Having bought wisely and bringing in a European quality manager to cap it all off, Leicester should beat the drop and once again and establish themselves as a long term premier league side. Judging by the early results their survival shouldn’t be a problem.
Verdict – Survive and probably then some
The fairytale of last season, Bournemouth will have the smallest stadium in the league by some margin, seating just 12,000. They play great football and i’m sure they will give it a go which will be great to see, they’ve also got some steel and premier league experience in the likes of Artur Boruc and Sylvain Distin. Though sadly not all great stories end well, similar to Blackpool i’m sure we will see a lot of attacking football and drive, and I hope this works out, but it may be a step too far for the club that nearly dropped from league two just 6 years ago.
Verdict – Down, but will give it a good go.
God knows why, but Dick Advocaat has stayed at the Stadium of light for another season, and taking results into account so far he is probably regretting it. Even though Jeremain Lens is a talented player from Dynamo Kiev others like Younes Kaboul and Coates are errors. Both struggled at their former clubs and have struggled at lower clubs before. It seems like forever that Sunderland have been in relegation scraps and you can’t ride your luck forever, I think this may be it for the Black Cats.
Verdict – Down, probably by april.
A team who by the looks of it are going to have a real go this year with Qique Sanchez Flores at the helm. After going all out in a draw at Goodison Park the Hornets registered 16 shots on goal against West Brom. Could be a worrying sign that they couldn’t convert but it’s admirable that they gave what they got. I hope they stay up and with an experienced manager they stand a chance, however, it could be difficult if they struggle to score as much as on the weekend.
Verdict – Will be entertaining, but will go down if strikers can’t convert.
(ROUGH AND UNDOUBTEDLY INCORRECT PREDICTION)
Newcastle – 13th
Leicester – 14th
Aston Villa – 15th
West Brom – 16th
Norwich – 17th
Watford – 18th
Bournemouth – 19th
Sunderland – 20th