Thu, Aug 16, 5:42pm by Kevin Pitstock
Watching the bottom of the table is often nearly as exciting as watching the chase for the Premier League title. Each year, the bottom three clubs are sent down from the top flight to the nPower Championship. They are replaced with three Championship sides (top two finishers in the Championship and the winner of the “playoff” consisting of the third through sixth place Championship sides). With relegation comes a drop in television revenue and usually a drop in attendance. The relegated clubs are given a “balloon payment” that is designed to assist the clubs in cushioning the financial implications of relegations. Often, relegated clubs lose their “star” players to transfer due to the player’s contract clauses and to help them offset financial implications of relegation.
Last season’s relegation race went down to the wire. In the last week of the 2011-12 season, newly promoted side QPR avoided relegation at the expense of the Bolton Wanderers, who joined the Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton in dropping down to the championship.
This season is virtually anyone’s guess in terms of which sides will be relegated. The bookmakers (www.iasbet.com) list newcomer Reading (2.25 odds of being relegated) as the preseason favourite to be relegated from the top flight. Rounding out the first tier of preseason favourites are Southampton (2.25), Norwich (2.50) and Wigan at 2.75 odds of facing relegation. Swansea faces 2.88 odds of being demoted.
West Ham United go into the 2012-13 campaign at 3.50 odds of relegation, whilst Stoke City and Aston Villa are listed at 6.00. West Ham and West Brom come in at 3.25 and 5.00 respectively. Fulham command 8.00 odds of relegation and Sunderland is shown at 9.00 odds. Long shot Everton comes in at 31.00 odds of dropping down to the Championship at the end of the Premier League season.
Of the top of the preseason relegation candidates, I believe Norwich and Wigan are more likely to face relegation than newly promoted sides Southampton and Reading are. Despite bringing in striker Mauro Bosselli, Wigan released Hugo Rodallega and have interest in Victor Moses. Whilst Moses only accounted for six goals, their leading goal scorer last season was striker Franco Di Santo, with seven goals. Wigan must improve upon their goal tally this season if they wish to avoid relegation. Losing Moses to transfer will be a huge blow for this struggling side.
Prediction: Wigan is a strong candidate for relegation.
Norwich finished last season in twelfth place (just behind Swansea). Their roster was mostly unremarkable, as they did little to adjust to the Premier League in their first season in the top flight. This year, they acquired talent from the Championship level, as opposed to looking for more “proven” top flight talent. Leeds’ striker Robert Snodgrass, Rangers’ defender Steven Whittaker transfer into the club, whilst defender Zak Whitbread joins Leicester. Grant Holt returns off an impressive 15-goal season. I do not believe they have done enough in terms of signing quality to the point where they do not drop points at home. When playing at Carrow Road last season, Norwich dropped points in 12 of their 19 matches. They failed to secure all three points on the road in all but five matches. I do not see how Norwich is going to be able to improve on their performance in the 12-13 campaign.
Prediction: Norwich is a strong candidate for relegation.
The two preseason favorites for finding themselves relegated are Reading and Southampton. Of the two sides, Southampton seems (to me) to be the more Premier League “ready” side. They feature an already explosive attack, having led the Championship in goals scored and they had a somewhat stingy defence. Reading was less than impressive in terms of goal scoring. Whilst they did not find the net nearly as often as the Saints did, Reading brought in Russian International striker Paval Pogrebnyak, who should add some flare to their offence. Whilst Pogrebnyak should bolster the Reading attack, I do not think it will be enough to avoid relegation. Southampton appear to be the club who was most “top flight ready” on an “as is” basis.
Prediction: Reading is likely to be relegated. Southampton will avoid relegation, but have a tough opening schedule.
West Ham United and their aerial attack have been quite busy in the transfer market. They are on the verge of signing Liverpool’s Andy Carroll on a season long loan. Bringing in players like Senegal international Defensive midfielder Mohamed Diame, goalkeepers Irish International Stephen Henderson, Raphael Spiegel, and Jussi Jaaskelainen, Defender George McCartney, and striker Modibo Maiga have them ready to be in the top flight. I do believe they will flirt with relegation, but will ultimately avoid being relegated.
QPR was the busiest side in the transfer market, inking Manchester United midfield workhorse Ji Sung Park to a deal, as well as acquiring Fabio from them on loan. In addition to the United duo, QPR bring in goalkeeper Robert Green, as well as striker Junior Hoilett. Their transfer activity should result in a more explosive and competitive QPR side. I am not confident that their team’s slight overhaul will result in producing a top ten finish this season. However, it is my firm belief that QPR will not flirt with the drop zone this season.
Prediction: West Ham United and QPR will avoid relegation.
Swansea sit at 2.88 odds to face relegation. Gone is manager Brendan Rogers and in comes Michael Laudrup. Of the three sides promoted for the 2011-2012 Premier League season, the Swans finished highest on the table, just above Norwich. Swansea featured a beautiful style last season and should continue to do so this season. However, Rogers was successful in reuniting with midfield standout Joe Allen – bringing him to Liverpool for a reported £12 million pounds. Thus, Swansea could have difficulty improving on their eleventh place finish. This could also suggest Swansea may flirt with relegation but my feeling is that they will avoid dropping down.
Prediction: Swansea barely avoids relegation.
Aston Villa struggled last season despite acquiring Darren Bent from Sunderland. The reliable striker saw an ankle injury end his season. A healthy Darren Bent should amount to a better season for Villa this time out. Look for Villa to avoid relegation and improve slightly on their 16th place finish.
Stoke City remains one of the more physical sides of the top flight. However, they have done little to improve the quality of their side going into this season. Stoke has held talks with Michael Owen, who would be a decent fit for this physical club. Despite his age, he still has the ability to find the back of the net. Given more opportunities than he had at Manchester United, he could provide a boost to a side in need of an additional striking option. Stoke finished in the 14th spot last season and look as if they will finish amongst the bottom six this season. They should avoid finishing within the drop zone, but they will need to improve significantly away from home if they are to avoid relegation status convincingly.
Prediction: Neither Stoke nor Villa will be relegated in 2013.
At 8.00 odds of being relegated, Fulham is an interesting bet. Clint Dempsey seems set for a transfer away from Fulham. Such a move will cause this side difficulty in replacing the 17 goals he scored last season. Dempsey has been a workhorse for them and losing his services would do irreparable damage to this ninth place finishing side. Fulham will be without the services of loaned striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, as he has transferred from his parent club to Reading. However, Fulham bolsters their attack by adding strikers Hugo Rodallega from Wigan and Mladen Petric on free transfers. They have also inked the services of midfielder Sascha Riether on loan from Cologne.
Sunderland also pose an interesting look for relegation contenders, as they have lost the services of Asamoah Gyan and Nicklas Bendtner. However, Sunderland return playmakers and goal scorers Sebastian Larsson and Stéphane Sessegnon. They add defender Carlos Cuellar on a free transfer from Aston Villa, which will serve in part to boost their hot and cold defence. Sunderland’s goal distribution was quite diverse last season. Whilst Bendtner was not what I would consider a “world class” striker, he did provide a clear threat in front of the net and his presence on the pitch allowed for players like Larsson and Sessegnon to find their way to goal. Without replacing Bendtner, Sunderland’s attack may struggle. Frazier Campbell will need additional cover up top and Connor Wickham is too green to step in as a proven threat. Look for Sunderland to struggle but manage to avoid relegation.
Prediction: Sunderland has a poor season, but barely avoids relegation. Fulham flirts heavily with relegation if they lose Clint Dempsey.
Bet the following sides to be relegated in the 2012-13 Premier League Season at www.IASBet.com
Wigan – 2.75 odds of relegation
Norwich – 2.50 odds of being relegated
Reading – 2.25 odds (favorites) to play in the Championship in 2013-14
Fulham – 8.00 odds of getting relegated (BEST LONGSHOT BET FOR RELEGATION at www.sportsbet.com.au IF IN THE MOOD TO SPECULATE)
Southampton – BET SOUTHAMPTON TO AVOID RELEGATION AFTER THEIR FOURTH MATCH OF THE SEASON. Shop your odds at Sportsbet.com.au, IAS Bet, centrebet.com, and http://www.sportingbet.com.au. Take the best odds offered AFTER their fourth match of the season. We will update and post here on the best available odds for Southampton to avoid relegation after game week 4.
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