Six teams fought for the title last season making it an impressive battle for the Premier League trophy. However, amidst the title charge, there was another battle taking place towards the bottom end of the table. One that keeps fans hanging on for a different type of reason. Premier League security.
To survive a relegation battle can be extremely rewarding; lucrative deals for television rights coupled with overseas players who want to play in the Premier League means survival acts as the bare minimum. And this year is no different.
With two Premier League clubs making their top-tier debuts, a lot of pressure will be on Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town to clinch at the very least, 17th place. Having not played in the country’s highest of leagues since the formation of the Premier League, there will be little expectation from them to achieve the improbable.
Others who are languishing dangerously at the bottom are West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, the last of which only moved up into the Premier League last season.
Some clubs never acclimatise to the pace and power of the league, struggling to keep up with the big boys and having to chase shadows every game. Many struggle to grab points away from home and must try and hang on to every point at their home stadium. Yet some enjoy a fruitful stay and after initial survival, plant themselves firmly into England’s top division, maintaining their place with the country’s elite.
Yet if hopes are to achieve the latter, there needs to be a talisman at the club who is willing to maximise his potential in order to carry the club to safety. In the most recent season, we’ve seen Fernando Llorente help Swansea with 15 goals, Benteke score the same for Crystal Palace and Troy Deeney helping steer Watford to safety last year. Who will stand out for the bottom clubs this season? Three games in and we’ve already seen some players shine.
Steve Mounie came straight into the Premier League with little experience but with great natural talent and he’s immediately started firing for Huddersfield, bagging two goals on his debut. Having come from the youth ranks at Montpellier, Mounié will be hoping to show the world what he can do. Alongside the Beninese international is midfielder Aaron Mooy, an Australian midfielder who’s finally got his big break. With a goal to his name already, Mooy will be eager to partner with Mounié and steer Huddersfield to safety.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Conversely, things haven’t gone so well down south for Brighton. Not only have they struggled to gain more than a point in their opening three games, Chris Hughton’s men have failed to find the back of the net. Even when they had a man up against Watford for over 60 minutes. You can argue they have had a tough start to the campaign with fixtures against Manchester City and Leicester City, but in a tense league like this, any point will do. Will the heroes of last season, Anthony Knockaert and Lewis Dunk shine again, or will this be a season to forget?
When three come up, three must come down and whether or not Newcastle United will also be in contention of losing their Premier League status is yet to be seen. Having yo-yoed up and down the league for a few seasons now, Rafael Benitez must be eager to try and keep The Magpies up. Last season’s league triumph at the death was a sign of determination to succeed and a trait they will need at the very top level. However, two defeats in a row will have left little confidence but a 3-0 victory over West Ham may well be the remedy that spurs them on.
West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth are now the only sides remaining in the league without a solitary point and will need to improve in order to avoid the fight for the drop. However, with all three suffering nothing but defeats, this will be a long season ahead for their fans.
As exciting as the race for the title is, so too can the fight for relegation be this season. Will the three clubs that fought so hard to be here come crashing down? Or will we see some a historic club, a mainstay in the Premier League, fall to the relegation sword?