With just two days to go until the start of the new Premier League season, we’re continuing our predictions for how the campaign might pan out, and today we’re looking towards the bottom end of the table.
We’ve already seen two managers leave their posts during pre-season (one albeit to manage the England team) and we’d be mightily surprised if Steve Bruce and Sam Allardyce were the only pair to depart from their clubs over the next ten months.
This season sees a return to the big-time for Hull City, Burnley and Middlesbrough, and it will be bad news for one of those clubs if our predictions are anything to go by…
To finish bottom: Hull (2/1)
Hull missed out on an automatic promotion spot by six points in last season’s Championship, but dramatically saw off Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs to secure the final Premier League spot.
But those celebrations merely seem a distant memory as the managerless club prepare for their fifth season in the Premier League.
And to make matters worse, their squad as things stand is probably the barest in the division.
With nobody in place to oversee transfers, the Tigers will also be without Michael Dawson, Alex Bruce, Moses Odubajo and Allan McGregor for the start of the new season – each facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury, while Harry Maguire has missed most of pre-season with a knee problem.
And the bad news doesn’t stop there for Hull fans as the newly-promoted side face Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea as well as reigning champions Leicester City in their first seven fixtures.
A poor start to the season is the last thing they’ll want if they are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
To go down: West Bromwich Albion (11/5)
The Baggies have spent the last seven seasons in the top flight and looked to have established themselves as a Premier League team, but while many squads around them towards the bottom of the table last year have strengthened and added depth, Tony Pulis has failed to do so,bringing in just Matt Phillips from Queens Park Rangers this summer.
James Chester, Jonny Evans and Saido Berahino have all been linked with moves away from the Hawthorns in this transfer window which must come as a distraction to the squad, while a poor pre-season has already led to a few reports suggesting Pulis could be on his way out.
West Brom really struggled to pick up points in the second half of the season, winning just four league games after the turn of the year, and only their local rivals Aston Villa picked up fewer points than Albion in the final ten games.
With Berahino destined to leave, there’s a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Salamon Rondon to keep his side in the top-flight.
To go down: Crystal Palace (9/2)
Only one team outside the bottom three scored fewer goals than Crystal Palace last season, and although this is an area in which Eagles boss Alan Pardew recognises needs strengthening, he’s so far had no joy in finding a new striker – while one of his forwards – Dwight Gayle – has moved to Newcastle United and Emmanuel Adebayor has been released following a short spell at Selhurst Park.
That leaves Pardew’s men desperately short up top and with Yannick Bolasie seemingly heading to Everton, it’s likely that Palace fans will be looking up from the bottom end of the table throughout the course of next campaign.
The ones who can relax a little:
Burnley – An interesting stat which will reassure Burnley fans that their Premier League status should be maintained by the end of the season – no team to gain promotion from the Championship with 90 points or more has ever been relegated the following year.
Middlesbrough – Boro have been making signings some teams in the bottom half of the table can only dream of, a Champions League winner and a Premier League winner to name but two. Mid-table finish to be expected.
Swansea – Though they’ve recently lost Andre Ayew, the Swans finished last campaign as one of the form teams in the league, and now that Francesco Guidolin has had a full pre-season with his players, he’ll be expecting them to push on from last year’s 12th-placed finish.
Sunderland – New boss David Moyes has a point to prove following his sacking from Manchester United, and a statistic which will put fans of the Black Cats at ease is that he’s never had to deal with a relegation during his time as a manager.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.