With the kickoff the 2016/17 Premier League season almost upon us, it’s time to make some preseason predictions. Last year, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Newcastle United all felt the axe of relegation. Who will be the three unlucky clubs this season?
For me, this was a toss-up between Burnley and Bournemouth. In the end, Bournemouth’s strong offseason additions pushed them out of the danger zone and ahead of this year’s Claret and Blue. During the 2014/15 season, Burnley narrowly avoided relegation, but fell three points short of hopping above Sunderland and Aston Villa to stay in the league.
In the Championship last season, Burnley’s high-powered attack led their way to the top spot in the table. 25-year-old Andre Gray led the way with 23 goals and Sam Vokes followed closely behind with 15 strikes. But while their offense thrived, their defensive unit looked like it could use some improvement.
Those improvements came in the form of Liverpool loanee Jon Flanagan. The 23-year-old has shown promise at Anfield, but a long-term knee injury kept him out of the squad for over a year. While I think he’s one for the future, I don’t think that he’s enough to solidify Burnley’s defense enough to stay in the top flight.
Burnley have shown that they have a strong, resilient mentality, and I was honestly surprised that they got relegated last time around. Who knows, maybe they’ll pull a Leicester City and stun the world, or maybe they’ll just barely survive for another year in the Premier League. I think that their fans would be thrilled with that second possibility.
The fact that Sunderland are somehow still in the top flight amazes me. I honestly don’t know how they’ve managed to pull off the impossible for the last couple of seasons, but this is the year their luck runs out. Sunderland fans; get ready for the second division.
For me, the biggest reason that I think Sunderland will drop down is the departure of their manager “Big” Sam Allardyce. Big Sam left the Stadium of Light over the summer to take the reins of the English National Team, and now David Moyes finds himself in charge. Allardyce had a knack for keeping his sides out of the relegation zone, and had a certain swagger about him on the sidelines.
I’m not quite sure that Moyes has that same confidence and ability. Long gone are the days when he was considered one of the best up-and-coming bosses at Everton. Failed stints at Manchester United and Real Sociedad have seriously damaged his reputation.
The addition of Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea is nice, but the seemingly imminent departure of Lamine Koné could offset that. Sunderland fans should already be used to difficult seasons, but this might finally be the one to send them down to the Championship.
20th: Hull City
Out of all of the teams I’m including in this list, Hull City are the only ones that I can confidently say deserve to get relegated. It’s not the players fault. It’s not the coach’s fault considering that Steve Bruce resigned before the season even started. It falls on the owners.
You would think that the injection of Premier League TV money into the club would inspire the owners to make a couple of signings to reinforce their recently promoted side, but that hasn’t been the case. They have yet to make a single signing this window, and haven’t seriously been linked with anybody all summer. They sold one of their marquee midfielders Mohamed Diamé to Newcastle United.
It’s honestly difficult to find any bright spots for the Tigers and I feel bad for their fans for having to suffer through this mediocrity. The only record that Hull has a chance of breaking Derby County’s record for fewest points in a Premier League season.