Which Premier League Clubs Could Face Relegation This Season?
Last year, Liverpool had the Premier League title all but clinched during the second half of the season, which meant that much of the focus landed on the lower reaches of the table. The battle against relegation went down to the final kick of the season, as an Aston Villa draw against West Ham ensured that Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City were relegated.
This season, the bottom portion of the Premier League promises to provide just as much excitement, as half of the top flight will have legitimate fears of relegation. Many EPL clubs are coming off of disappointing and, frankly, concerning campaigns, while the newly promoted sides all offer Premier League talent.
The question is, which of these three teams will find themselves in the Championship next season? Let's find out.
Prem Relegation Predictions 2020-2021
The Returning Clubs
A fantastic first season in the Premier League saw Sheffield finish ninth despite scoring just 39 goals. Led by a solid backline, the Blades outperformed their expected goals conceded by nearly nine goals last season, so a regression this year would not be out of the question.
United added much-needed depth to the backline with the purchase of young fullbacks Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe from Derby County, but the Blades are still thin in central midfield and attack. Much of their success last year was due the squad's ability to stay healthy, so a few untimely injuries and less luck defensively could see an offensively challenged Blades team experience some struggles, but relegation is unlikely.
Relegation Risk: 2/10
Led by Danny Ings’ 22 goals, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s squad used another timely second-half run of form to lift the side from the reaches of the relegation zone. The Saints finished 11th despite conceding 60 goals, third worst of any non-relegated team. The losses of defensive midfielder Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg ($18 million to Tottenham) and right back Cedric (free transfer to Arsenal) will only increase the pressure on Southampton’s backline.
The squad also struggled for goals outside of Ings, as no other player netted more than five times. If Ings is unable to match his goal-scoring prowess from last season, and the Saints’ key defensive departures leave the side exposed, Southampton could find itself near the bottom of the table.
Relegation Risk: 4/10
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton has flirted with relegation in each of its Premier League campaigns, with three lower mid-table finishes. The Seagulls were prime relegation candidates last season, but new manager Graham Potter maintained the club's stout defensive record and led the side to a 15th-place finish. Keeper Mat Ryan and center back Lewis Dunk were solid as ever at the back, and striker Neal Maupay scored 10 times in his debut season.
New signing Adam Lallana is a talented box-to-box midfielder who adds an attacking flair Brighton sorely needed, but the Seagulls still lack a consistent goal scorer aside from Maupay. If attackers Leandro Trossard and and Aaron Connolly can be dependable threats in their second EPL seasons, Brighton should sit comfortably in mid table, but if the goals dry up, Graham Potter's side could see a season in the Championship in its future.
Relegation Risk: 4/10
It seems that Newcastle continuously spends large amounts of money just to attain the same mid-table finish. The Magpies dropped $50 million on striker Joelinton last year, and the Brazilian scored only twice despite appearing in every Premier League match. This year's questionable signing is Callum Wilson, a dangerous but inconsistent striker with a history of knee problems, who joined from Bournemouth for $24 million.
The Magpies also struggled defensively too. Goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka carried the side, notching 134 saves and preventing 10.0 more goals than expected, both tops in the league (per FBRef). Given the difficulties on both ends of the pitch, a 13th-place finish last year is an achievement for a Newcastle side that had the second-worst expected goal differential (-25.5) of any EPL team. With Dúbravka out to start the year, don't expect Newcastle to be as lucky this season.
Relegation Risk: 5/10
The Eagles found themselves sixth after 10 matches played, but seven straight late-season defeats saw the club finish 14th. Much of this was due to the sides's offensive ineptitude. Only Norwich City scored fewer than Palace's total of 31 league goals.
New boy Eberechi Eze, signed from QPR, will improve the midfield, but the attacking duo of Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend endured a miserable campaign, combining for only three goals (about one every nine matches). The dynamic Wilfried Zaha was not much better, registering only four goals and three assists.
Led by goalkeeper Vincente Guiata, Palace had a sound defensive record, but the Eagles boast an aging squad (oldest average starting XI in the EPL last year) and did little to improve through the transfer market. The south London club could be in for a rude awakening this year.
Relegation Risk: 5/10
West Ham United
With a reckless checkbook and a propensity to overspend on inconsistent attackers, you might call West Ham “Newcastle 2.0.” West Ham spent nearly $110 million on an attacking trio last season that netted just 10 EPL goals. The club's 2018 signings didn't do any better. Felipe Anderson ($42 million) scored just once across his 25 EPL matches, while Andriy Yarmolenko, signed from Dortmund for $22 million, proved to be one of the most unpredictable players in recent memory.
Somehow, West Ham's defensive struggles managed to mirrored its erratic offense. The Hammers allowed four goals to League One side Oxford United in a humiliating EFL Cup defeat, and performed about the same against EPL opposition. West Ham's 61.9 expected goals conceded was the second most of any Premier League side. The permanent signing of Tomas Soucek should shore up the backline, but manager David Moyes' side can hardly afford another inconsistent campaign.
Relegation Risk: 6/10
Aston Villa spent $175 million last year just to finish in 17th place thanks to a botched call on the goal line (more like over the goal line). To put it nicely, Aston Villa was very lucky to stay in the Premier League. At times, Jack Grealish was the only Villa player capable of creating a goal-scoring opportunity, while the defense was downright shambolic. It took eight points in the club's last four matches (as well as that one-in-a-million call from Hawk-Eye) just to avoid relegation.
Villa largely stood pat in the transfer market this summer, hoping last year's 13 new signings will be able to build chemistry this season. But if Villa still looks as disheveled as it did last year, relegation is a distinct possibility.
Relegation Risk: 7/10
The New Boys
After 16 years of lower-league misery, Leeds is back in the Premier League, and boy, Leeds fans won't let you forget it. After a dominant season in the Championship last year, Leeds has made aggressive maneuvers in the transfer market. Center back Robin Koch was plucked from SC Freiburg, while Spanish striker Rodrigo was purchased from Valencia for a club-record $33 million. These moves add to an already impressive squad that includes midfield powerhouse Kalvin Phillips (who just made his England debut) and striker Patrick Bamford.
On paper, Leeds is the most talented of the three newly promoted sides, and with Argentinian mastermind Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, expectations will be high for the Yorkshire side. But with these expectations comes the pressure to perform, and this burden could be the only thing holding Leeds back this year.
Relegation Risk: 3/10
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom earned an automatic promotion spot on the last day of the season, fending off considerable pressure from Brentford. Slaven Bilić provides considerable managerial experience, and he leads a veteran squad with quality players. Ahmed Hegazy, Jake Livermore and Charlie Austin are just a few of the Baggies players who have performed well in the top flight before.
Bilić's squad also boasts considerable young talent. Winger Matheus Pereira was one of the Championship's most dangerous attackers last season, tallying eight goals and 16 assists, while his opposite number Grady Diangana also added eight goals. West Brom did well to sign these players on a permanent basis this summer but has done little else in the transfer market. While the Baggies have a good balance between experience and talent, this side will likely need to add a few quality players to ensure Premier League safety.
Relegation Risk: 7/10
The free-spending roller coaster ride that is Fulham FC is back in the Premier League this year following a one-year hiatus. After investing $128 million in its last top-flight expedition, Fulham has toned down its spending considerably this time around. Midfielder Mario Lemina was signed on loan from Southampton, while Lyon fullback Kenny Tete is finalizing a move to London to shore up the right side of the Fulham defense.
Championship golden boot winner Aleksandar Mitrović will once again be leading the Cottagers' attack, and he will be supported by midfielder Tom Cairney and playoff final hero Joe Bryan. Defensively though, Fulham will struggle. Marek Rodak is an underrated keeper, but Premier League attackers will be salivating at the possibility of playing against the mediocre Tim Ream on a weekly basis. Without a capable center-back pairing, Fulham is likely to repeat 2018-19, a season where the Cottagers allowed 81 goals and were relegated from the EPL.
Relegation Risk: 8/10