We’re just a few days away from the start of the 2019/20 Premier League.
Manchester City will be looking for a third Premier League title on the spin, while Chelsea will be hoping the appointment of Frank Lampard ushers in an exciting new era at Stamford Bridge. Some familiar faces will also be making a comeback as Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa all return to this level.
Part 1 of our preview looks at the teams we think will be fighting it out towards the bottom of the table.
Premier League Predictions for 2019/20 – Every Team’s Estimated Finish from 11 – 20
20TH – NORWICH CITY
Manager: Daniel Farke
Relegation odds 10/11
Reasons to be cheerful: Last season’s unexpected title triumph means Norwich will be approaching this season as something of a ‘free hit’. Loanee Patrick Roberts looks a lively signing in midfield while Swiss international Josip Drmić adds experience and depth to a frontline heavily reliant on the goals of Teemu Pukki. Given his tough start to his Carrow Road career, Daniel Farke is also likely to stay calm and trust in his methods if it happens to be a slow start to Premier League life. Norwich have taken a prudent attitude towards their promotion. As the polar opposite approach to Fulham last season, that might be no bad thing.
Reasons to be fearful: The Canaries’ transfer activity doesn’t inspire confidence that they have added the quality needed to push themselves above the relegation fray. Aside from Roberts and Drmić, there’s little sign of new arrivals with the genuine Premier League quality needed to trouble superior defences. The fixture computer has been unkind as well. Fixtures against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City could check their momentum in their first five games.
19TH – SHEFFIELD UNITED
Manager: Chris Wilder
Relegation odds: 16/25
Reasons to be cheerful: After 12 years away, the Blades will be hellbent on enjoying their return to the Premier League. Expect Chris Wilder to relish the opportunity to prove the critics wrong as he aims to guide his hometown club to back-to-back seasons in the top tier for the first time since the mid-nineties. Luke Freeman and Ben Osborn will be out to impress after shining at Championship level, while the straight-talking Wilder will back himself to finally make a player of Ravel Morrison. Strong home form at Bramall Lane with Blades fans in full voice will surely be key to their survival hopes.
Reasons to be fearful: Wilder could be the victim of his own success. It’s only two years since Utd were a League One club. Overhauling a side to be ‘Premier League ready’ in the space of one summer may simply be too much of an ask. At 33, club legend Billy Sharp deserves a second shot at the top flight after an ill-fated spell with Southampton. However, Blades will need to share the goals around to have a realistic shot at survival. Lys Mousset and the rumoured Oli McBurnie may help take the pressure off. That could be asking a lot of two players aged just 23.
18TH – BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Manager: Graham Potter
Relegation odds: 9/5
Reasons to be cheerful: Outsiders looking in were left bemused when Brighton opted to part ways with the popular Chris Hughton at the end of last season. However, if any club were in urgent need of a reset, it was the Seagulls. Albion’s form tailed off badly in the second half of last season, with even their previously reliable home form faltering. Graham Potter will be charged with making Brighton more adventurous, particularly on the road. New signing Leandro Trossard has impressed in pre-season. He could be the ‘changemaker’ in unlocking extra creative influence from midfield. Brighton’s progress this season all rests on the Potter gamble. Can he get another club punching above their natural level?
Reasons to be fearful: A lot of faith is being put on Potter to cast his spell on some of Brighton’s recent misfires in the transfer market. The Seagulls have shown plenty of ambition in the transfer market since arriving at this level but to little avail. If the former Swansea man fails to get the most out of Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jürgen Locadia, there will be plenty of pressure on new signing Neal Maupay to hit the ground running. With Glenn Murray now approaching his 36th birthday, the Seagulls desperately need their new record signing to be an instant hit at the Amex. Keeping the rock-solid pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy together for another season will also be a key priority.
17TH – BURNLEY
Manager: Sean Dyche
Relegation odds: 9/10
Reasons to be cheerful: Burnley know exactly what you need to survive at this level – and then they go out and execute it. Their style will never play well with football hipsters. However, Dyche continues to squeeze the maximum out of a team more than happy to let more fashionable sides do all the talking off the pitch. With a year of Premier League football under his belt, last season’s breakout star Dwight McNeil could also be ready to step up his game another level. Could he provide the creativity the Clarets are sometimes screaming out for to kill off tight games?
Reasons to be fearful: Even Sean Dyche might not be able to defy gravity for ever. With the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Brighton all making at least one statement signing this summer, Burnley continue to shop in the bargain basement. Returning striker Jay Rodriguez should at least hit the ground running, but this squad looks decidedly workmanlike if injuries or suspensions were to play their part this season.
16TH – NEWCASTLE UTD
Manager: Steve Bruce
Relegation odds: 43/20
Reasons to be cheerful: Cut out all the controversy surrounding his appointment, and Bruce’s record in the Premier League is more than adequate for a side seemingly happy to consolidate. The 58-year-old has shown in spells with Wigan and Birmingham he can keep teams punching above their weight at this level, and this Magpies side has enough individual quality within its ranks to avoid getting dragged into a relegation dogfight. Most of their rivals would more than happily accommodate Joelinton and Miguel Almirón to help their fight against the drop.
Reasons to be fearful: This is not a happy camp – and Bruce will be aware only a flying start will help quell the doubters. The transfer policy at the club also seems scattergun. Statement signings are a start to placating disgruntled fans, but they fail to disguise a lack of strength-in-depth beyond the starting XI. Rafa Benitez was unapologetic about making Newcastle primarily hard to beat. For the qualities he does possess, it’s open to debate whether Bruce can retain that level of defensive discipline across 38 games.
15TH – CRYSTAL PALACE
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Relegation odds: 11/2
Reasons to be cheerful: The Eagles enjoy making life difficult for themselves at times but have enough individual brilliance in their ranks to pull themselves together in the nick of time. Despite splitting opinion at Selhurst Park, Roy Hodgson is also one of the safest pair of hands in setting a team up to survive at this level. The ongoing Wilfred Zaha saga will surely be the deciding factor in how entangled they become in the relegation scrap this season. If he stays – and moves on from all the speculation quickly – Palace should comfortably survive for a seventh straight season at this level. If he goes, the consolation prize will be a £100m+ transfer kitty at their disposal. Palace would need to act quickly, but those funds could help re-shape a side in need of extra options.
Reasons to be fearful: Hodgson is clearly frustrated by the lack of transfer activity at Selhurst Park this summer. Could those tensions continue to simmer if Palace fail to make significant reinforcements before the end of the window? Palace’s striking options also remain a real concern, with Jordan Ayew the top scorer in 2018/19 of the strikers left at the club. His return? Two goals. Thanks to Zaha and penalty king Luka Milivojević, Palace managed to paper over the cracks last season. A sense they are continually letting things drift could prove costly in 2019/20.
14TH – BOURNEMOUTH
Manager: Eddie Howe
Relegation odds: 9/2
Reasons to be cheerful: Under Howe, Bournemouth will always have enough attacking nous to trouble teams at either end of the table. With different ways to win in their locker, the Cherries can afford more off-days than most and still pick up the points needed to climb comfortably towards the 40-point mark. They also continue to show plenty of ambition in the transfer market, this summer splashing out on three players with huge long-term potential in Philip Billing, James Justin and Lloyd Kelly. Snapping up Harry Wilson on loan is another impressive coup.
Reasons to be fearful: Fine margins can be everything in the Premier League. Despite a comfortable 14th-place finish, there was a slight ‘treading water’ feel to Bournemouth’s season, particularly away from home. Some reinvention may be needed at the Vitality to avoid complacency creeping in. Howe should study the likes of Stoke, West Brom and Swansea carefully for lessons on how comfortable mid-table obscurity can quickly turn sour.
13TH – ASTON VILLA
Manager: Dean Smith
Relegation odds: 43/20
Reasons to be cheerful: Villa suffered the shock of their lives as they limped out the Premier League in 2015/16. Three years on from their fall from grace, Dean Smith’s side can’t be accused of not being proactive in their aim to avoid an instant return to the second tier. Of all the promoted sides, Villa look the most prepared to hit the ground running after over £100m worth of investment this summer. Holding on to Jack Grealish could also be their most important move of the summer. The lifelong Villain is desperate to make an impact in the Premier League for his hometown club – expect him to be worth 5-10 points on his own.
Reasons to be fearful: The ‘F’ word. Fulham. As we saw last year, wildly splashing the cash in a bid to spend your way to survival can have unintended consequences. Smith’s man-management skills will be tested as he looks to integrate over 10 new players into his play-off winning squad. Smith’s easy-on-the-eye playing style has won plenty of admirers at Championship level, but he may have to park some of his principles as Villa look to consolidate.
12TH – WATFORD
Manager: Javi Gracia
Relegation odds: 6/1
Reasons to be cheerful: It’s been a quiet summer in Hertfordshire – and that might be no bad thing. Unlike many of their rivalries in the race for mid-table, Watford have been a beacon of stability this pre-season. With nobody rocking the boat this summer, the Hornets can pretty much carry on where they left off after just missing out on a top-half berth in May. The rumoured arrival of Danny Welbeck could help propel the Hornets inside the Top 10.
Reasons to be fearful: Have the Hornets peaked? After pushing for European football last season and reaching last season’s FA Cup final, Javi Gracia could find raised expectations at Vicarage Road a burden this season. Gracia also needs to be wary of this squad resting on its laurels after only minor changes this summer. An upper mid-table finish would still be a fine return, but there’s always a question mark as to whether a previously trigger-happy board might be happy to return to their old ways if the Hornets stumble early season.
11TH – SOUTHAMPTON
Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Relegation odds: 9/2
Reasons to be cheerful: Hasenhüttl has now had a full pre-season to really make his mark on an underachieving Saints squad. The Austrian coach overachieved at both Ingolstadt and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. His fine-tuning this summer should help him lift Saints away from the desperate scrap that has defined their past two Premier League seasons. He’s also made some shrewd moves into the transfer market to address their issues in the final third, bringing in the rapid Che Adams from Birmingham and winger Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liège.
Reasons to be fearful: At the time of writing, Hasenhüttl has arguably been unable to shift as much deadwood as he would like. This squad is still a hotchpotch of players from the Ronald Koeman, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes eras. That leaves him with a squad that looks fairly bloated, meaning the Saints boss may have a delicate balancing act keeping competing egos happy at St Mary’s. A new centre-back surely also remains on the shopping list to help the South Coast side bulk up a defence that leaked 65 goals last season.
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Odds correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.
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