Earlier in the summer the Premier League struck a new TV rights deal with BSkyB and British Telecom worth 71% more than last season’s rights holders ESPN. The new deal guarantees the team finishing bottom will receive more than the £60.6 million Man City earned for winning the title last season. Therefore the fight for Premier League survival is greater than ever with the enormous incentives on offer come the end of the campaign and this article will review the teams that could find themselves battling it out at the foot of the table.
Last season Norwich surpassed all expectations and finished a respectable 12th place following their return to the Premier League after back to back promotions. But after a successful campaign manager Paul Lambert was wanted by Aston Villa resulting in the Scot swapping Carrow Road for Villa Park much to the disappointment of the Norwich faithful. As the saying goes every cloud has a silver lining and this is the case here following the appointment of the highly rated Chris Hughton whose main priority will be to achieve Premier League survival, anything more will be a bonus. Despite speculation Grant Holt wanted to leave Carrow Road earlier in the summer the talismanic striker made a U-turn and eventually signed a new contract handing Norwich a massive boost prior to the season starting. Hughton has done well to keep hold of last season’s talented squad whilst adding two new additions in Steven Whittaker and Jacob Butterfield. The Canaries will be hoping to get off to a flying start as they look to get points on the board early on, as they proved last season their squad is more than capable of competing in the Premier League and with the appointment of Hughton I am certain they will have enough about them to survive the dog fight.
Queens Park Rangers were lucky to avoid relegation last season but with Mark Hughes at the helm I strongly believe they will finish further up the table. Hughes has had a very busy summer shaping his squad with many players exiting Loftus Road. Buzsaky, Gabbidon, Hall, Kenny, Ramage and Shittu all found they were surplus to requirements as Sparky looked to stamp his mark on the squad. As usual the former Fulham and Manchester City manager has been shrewd in the transfer market. Adding experience for free in Rob Green, Ryan Nelsen and Andy Johnson, an exciting pair from Manchester United: Fabio da Silva for a season long loan and the hardworking Park Ji-Sung for a small fee and to top things off a bright young talent in Junior Hoilett who will bring pace and skill to the QPR flanks. Hughes knows more than anybody that the season won’t be easy but with a bit of luck and fewer red cards there is no reason why QPR cannot finish further up the table.
Following an impressive end to last season Reading gained promotion as the Championship winners. Backed by a new Russian owner, Brian Mcdermott has not wasted any time in strengthening his squad for the coming season. To date Mcdermott has captured six new signatures most notably Pavel Pogrebnyak who joined Fulham on loan last season scoring 6 goals in 12 appearances and will certainly provide Reading with the fire power needed to stand any chance of avoiding relegation. Gunter, Guthrie, Mariappa, McCleary and Shorey are the other players who have put pen to paper at the Madejski Stadium. Despite the influx of signings the Royals may struggle to compete with many teams in the Premier League, their squad lacks Premier League quality especially in defence. Reading will do well to match the achievements of last season’s promoted teams – who all stayed up – Brian Mcdermott faces a real challenge to beat the drop.
Southampton have experienced back-to-back promotions under Nigel Adkins who will be hoping to establish his side as a regular Premier League club. Last season they had a strike force to be reckoned with in the Championship as Billy Sharp and Rickie Lambert ran riot. And with the addition of teenager Jay Rodriguez from Burnley, Southampton’s strike force bags huge potential but the alarming problem for Adkins lies at the other end of the pitch. Defensively Southampton look vulnerable, lacking cover across the back four, the Saints may struggle to keep some of the league’s most prolific goal scorers at bay. Southampton’s fairytale return to the Premier League could soon turn into a nightmare if Adkins does not add more depth to his frail squad, I will be very surprised in the Saints are not battling it out at the foot of the table this season.
Last season Swansea surpassed all expectations and blew people away with their possession-based approach. Michael Laudrup was appointed as manager following Brendan Rodgers leaving for Liverpool and the Dane will be hoping he can continue playing the attractive attacking football Rodgers implemented at the club. Laudrup’s main objective will be to ensure Premier League football for another season. But with Sigurdsson snubbing the Welsh club for Tottenham and Scott Sinclair reportedly linked with a move away from Swansea, the Welsh outfit could find themselves battling it out at the foot of the table. To date De Guzman is the only player to sign for the Swans this summer but Laudrup will be hoping to strengthen before the window shuts in a few weeks time. Following last season’s fantastic finish, this campaign could prove to be a reality check and it would not surprise me if Swansea finish closer to the bottom three this season.
West Ham gained promotion to the Premier League thanks to the play-offs and under Sam Allerdyce the Hammers have a fantastic chance of avoiding relegation this season. Big Sam has the knack of establishing teams in the top flight, and it will be no different with West Ham. He has made several key signings this summer including Diame from Wigan and French international Alou Diarra from Marseille. These signings will give West Ham the experience they desperately need to compete in the Premier League. And with a strike force of Nicky Maynard, Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te the Hammers will not be short on goals come the business end of the season. With Big Sam in charge and the squad he has at his disposal I strongly believe West Ham will have enough about them to beat the drop. The former Bolton and Blackburn manager may not play attractive football but one thing is for sure he knows how to win games and that is a valuable skill in the Premier League.
For the past few seasons Wigan have avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to Roberto Martinez, but this season their luck could be about to run out. Key players such as Diame, Thomas and Rodallega have all departed leaving Martinez with a depleted squad and no funds to replace them. Despite attacking options being scarce for the past few seasons, Martinez has somehow worked miracles at the DW Stadium and will be looking to do the same this season. The Latics’ chances of survival will increase if they can keep hold of star man Victor Moses who was inspirational in last season’s emphatic survival campaign, failure to keep him is a train crash waiting to happen with only one outcome, relegation.
With the Premier League being so unpredictable nobody quite knows who will avoid the drop come the end of the season, but one thing is for sure this season will be as exciting as ever!