A look at which teams are the main relegation candidates for the upcoming season based on the transfer business that has been done so far.
3 Potential Relegation Candidates for the 2017/18 Premier League Season
This may come as a bit of a surprise because of Eddie Howe’s burgeoning reputation. However, there are some worrying signs. Howe has had mixed success with his transfer dealings in previous years. For every Joshua King level of signing, there is a Jordan Ibe signing to weigh it down.
Unfortunately, this pre-season has been no different because the excellent acquisition of Asmir Begovic is matched by the high fee paid for Nathan Aké and the questionable decision to sign Jermain Defoe. These three improve the squad, but they are unlikely to be good enough to keep them up.
Last season, the Cherries relied heavily on Josh King’s goals to survive because he earned the team 13 points. He played in 36 Premier League games and managed to score sixteen goals as well as assisting two. This came from an average of 1.9 shots per game, so he had a conversion ratio of roughly 23%. Based on his previous seasons, this seems to be an anomaly rather than a pattern. Therefore, he is unlikely to be able to replicate it.
They need someone to make up for this probable downturn in form by King. Callum Wilson is talented, but he is injury-prone as the last two season have shown. Whereas, Defoe has age against him, as he is 34. He is only going to decline. He did score 15 goals in the league last season, but five of them were penalties.
Combine this with the fact that Bournemouth conceded 67 goals, which made them the fourth worst defence, and it’s worrying for Bournemouth. They need to make a few more signings in order to keep up with the rest of the pack.
The Clarets had an over-reliance on home form to avoid relegation last season. They picked up 33 of their 40 points at Turf Moor. This kind of dependence is unhealthy as a team must be somewhat competitive away from home. It is too reliant on various factors being in favour such as injuries. It also reduces the chance of a run of form because results are determined more by location rather than the team’s confidence.
Sean Dyche has brought in a few signings to bolster the squad. However, none of them are a level above what they already have. It could be argued that the club’s greatest asset last season was that they were a team in the truest sense of the form. They equalled more than the sum of their individual parts.
The main danger for the Clarets is that teams find it harder in the second season due to the opposition having a better understanding of how they play. This means teams are more likely to be wary when they travel to Turf Moor, especially the lower half teams. Their home form is likely to suffer.
Regardless of whether they stay up or not, Dyche has done a great job. At the end of the day, Burnley don’t have the same financial resources as other clubs. The key factor for them will be their record against the other teams near the drop. This is when their strong team mentality will be vital. However, their lack of quality signings and the knowledge on their playing style is likely to cost them.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton under Chris Hughton had an excellent season as they dominated the Championship to get promotion to the Premier League for the first time. They are still, in essence, a Championship team, though. Little has changed to suggest they are ready for the next level. They don’t have the Premier League level players of Newcastle or the young players with high talent ceilings at Huddersfield.
Buying Mathew Ryan for £5 million was an astute signing. Aside from that Pascal Groß is their only other signing. This isn’t exactly major transfer activity. Granted, they do have a nice mixture of experience and youth. However, their only standout player is Anthony Knockaert. He struggled at this level when he was playing for Leicester City.
There is also a worry that once some of their key players get injured, they will struggle to deal with the quality at this level. They lack the sufficient depth needed to be competitive through a long and intense season. Hull are a great example of this due to their ownership issues at the start of last season which limited spending. Although, they were in a worse situation than Brighton.
They need to bolster their entire defence because they lack depth in all three key areas. A striker that is proven at this level is also needed to guarantee goals. Their chief striker, Glenn Murray, has struggled at this level before which caused him to go down to the Championship. Sam Baldock and Tomer Hemed are unlikely to provide the goals that are needed either based on their lack of experience in the Premier League.
Bringing in key signings in these areas could alter their fortunes significantly. However, they haven’t done enough business so far to be thinking about safety.