EPL Relegation – Best BetsPremier League 2019-20 Relegation Preview
Two of the three promoted teams went straight back down to the Championship last year in Cardiff City and Fulham, while a dismal Huddersfield Town side finished below those two in what turned out to be a rather boring relegation battle.
This year’s looks a lot more competitive. As expected, promoted teams dominate the front of the market, and even though probably the best Championship team from last year, Leeds United, did not make it up, it would be foolish to write off any of them.
Sheffield United are the favourites to go down at 4/6 (Bet $100 to win $66). Their summer has been slightly marred by a court case over who actually owns the club, and their acquisitions look short of the quality requried to stay in the Premier League. They are an old school club who still do not really have a foreign scouting network.
However they have a very good manager in Chris Wilder, and a committed, motivated squad who will fight for every point. They play an unusual 3-5-2 system with both right and left centre-backs pushing forward. This could cause some problems for opponents, especially in the first half of the season. They will probably go, but they are likely to be competitive.
Norwich City won the Championship last year thanks to an exciting German manager, a talented young squad, and an incredible number of late goals, especially at home. They have kept with much of their promotion squad, and will be pleasing on the eye. Full-backs Rolando Aarons and Jamal Lewis are particularly good.
However Teemu Pukki’s 29 goal season came from absolutely nowhere, and they will be reliant on him to repeat his form against much better defenders. If he cannot, Norwich will struggle. They are 10/11 to go.
Aston Villa have been accused of ‘doing a Fulham’ by spending over £100m on players after getting promoted. But while Fulham’s business was late and, in hindsight, unncessary and destructive, Villa have needed to spend, as they were reliant on lots of loan players last year.
Their midfield of Jack Grealish, who could play for a top six team, and John McGinn, is their big strength. They improved hugely in the second half of last season under Villa-supporting manager Dean Smith. At 2/1 they are probably the best bet of the promoted teams to be relegated just on value grounds, but they should just about be okay.
There are better bets elsewhere. Brighton and Hove Albion are 15/8 to drop. They would have been relegated last season but for the incompetence of other teams, and they acted swiftly to sack Chris Hughton and replace him with former Swansea manager Graham Potter.
Potter has promised more free-flowing football, but if they start badly and quickly become embroiled in a relegation battle, Potter may be tempted emphasise his team’s defensive strengths. The big plus for the Seagulls is the signing of Neal Maupay from Brentford. Maupay was arguably the most eye-catching striker in the Championship last year, and should provide much needed goals. But the rest of the team is desperately short on quality, and they look goof value to go down.
Also at 15/8 but easily left alone are Burnley, who have defed statistics and logic to stay up enough times for me not to be fooled by their short relegation price.
The other front runners are Newcastle United at 9/4, who were 6/1 for relegation before the departure of Rafael Benitez and the appointment of Steve Bruce. This episode means that a dark cloud hangs over St James’s Park as the season starts, with the club’s support in open revolt against owner Mike Ashley. The situation has not been helped by the sale of Ayoze Perez to Leicester City, or the club’s inability to sign Salomon Rondon permanently. However the reaction to their summer is more than baked into the price shift, and 9/4 is about right.
One team at long odds who could struggle are Bournemouth at 6/1. Having gained 20 points from the first nine games of last season, they managed only 25 from the remaining 29 - form that would send you down most years. There remains much to like about Eddie Howe’s side, but they are trending downhill and a bad start could make for a very tough season.
One wildcard are Crystal Palace, because their season completely depends on whether they sell Wilfried Zaha. At the time of writing, he has handed in a transfer request and his future looks in the balance. Palace last season were a complete one-man team. Zaha scored ten, assisted five and won six penalties. He is irreplaceable at the best of times, let alone with just hours to go until the transfer window shuts. If he leaves, Palace are strong runners to go down.
Brighton and Hove Albion to go down at 15/8
Bournemouth to go down at 6/1