The Premier League Survival Race

The Premier League is quite rightly heralded as one of the most exciting leagues on earth and you can see why. At 5000/1, Leicester City’s title victory in 2016 was remarkable and as unlikely as the England national team playing exciting football – yet it happened. These rare gems are why many people fall in love with football and the Premier League in particular, but as the big clubs recover from that shock and re-assert themselves, the bottom of the League is as unpredictable as ever.

Fernando Llorente by Богдан Заяц (CC SA-BY 3.0)

Crystal Palace decided to change their style over the summer by appointing Dutch legend Frank de Boer as manager but after only four games, all defeats, he was given the sack by chairman Steve Parish and swiftly replaced by former England manager Roy Hodgson. Four games is clearly not enough time to fairly evaluate the performance of a manager and de Boer can consider himself hard done by to not be given a proper chance at instilling the Palace side with his pass and move style but such is the pressure to stay in the world’s richest league, decisions are taken quickly and often in a ruthless manner.

The scrap for survival will be “tougher than ever before” as West Brom manager Tony Pulis recently put it; the reason being that none of the three promoted clubs are, like in seasons past, by any means weak. Brighton have an excellent manager in Chris Hughton and a talented squad. They have started strongly and already look like a side that can do more than just survive. Newcastle also look excellent particularly in midfield where the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame stand out as the dominant force.

Huddersfield Town, who were promoted through the playoffs, have surpassed all expectations so far and with a manager like David Wagner, you feel that anything is possible for the Terriers. The teams that do look to have some serious concerns are Bournemouth and Swansea. The latter will clearly struggle to score without Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurðsson who left to Tottenham and Everton respectively, a massive blow which is why Premier League betting markets have the Swans as 10/11 for relegation and bottom club Palace at 4/5. Bournemouth are still the ‘minnows’ of the Premier League and their slow start has seen them given odds of 9/4 to go down. Their biggest asset is Eddie Howe, a talented manager who knows the club inside out having taken them from the fourth tier to the top.


Ronald Koeman by Paul Blank (CC BY 2.5)

The shock struggler so far this season has to be Everton. The Toffees spent £150 million in the summer and in manager Ronald Koeman they had a man whose name had been linked to the Barcelona job so to find them now managerless and in the bottom three is a real surprise. This again though proves just how unpredictable the Premier League can be and West Ham need to be careful unless they want to be drawn into the relegation dogfight. The Hammers have yet to produce the same form they showed at Upton Park in their new stadium and a disappointing summer in the transfer market has left them short of quality in key areas. Finally, you have West Brom, a team really short on numbers and squad depth but more than made up for in determination and the know-how of manager Tony Pulis. The Welshman has never been relegated as a player or a manager and his well-organised tactics will likely keep the Baggies out of trouble. Whatever happens between now and May it is bound to be a roller-coaster ride, full of twists and turns and nerve-jangling excitement.

The MFF Team

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