Premier League Preview: Relegation Candidates
This weekend marks the beginning of the 2014/2015 Premier League season, with Manchester City looking to retain their crown and win their third league title in four seasons. However, the battle to avoid relegation will be just as exciting, with no club guaranteed safety. Let’s take a look at five clubs that could find themselves at the wrong end of the table come May.
Aston Villa have been on the slide for a few years now and I see nothing to suggest that this season will be any easier. Over the last three seasons, Villa have finished 16th, 15th and 15th again respectively. Paul Lambert has struggled to improve things at Villa, having lingered around the relegation zone throughout his tenure. In his first season, the age of the squad was blamed for their poor performances. Two years on, these players have more experience, so there are no excuses for underperforming. Villa need to get Benteke back to fitness and among the goals again. It is also vital that they keep captain Ron Vlaar at the club, after a very impressive World Cup for his native Holland.
Sean Dyche performed a miracle when he guided his Burnley side to automatic promotion last season, but it will be even tougher for him to keep them there. Burnley have brought in six new players over the summer, including a deal to make Michael Kightly’s loan deal from Stoke permanent. A lack of Premier League could be problematic for Dyche however. New signings Matthew Taylor and Steven Reid have a wealth of experience but are they enough to help keep Burnley up? The Clarets will need to hope that Danny Ings can be as prolific in the Premier League as he was in the Championship. If Ings can’t get the goals, Burnley could be in deep trouble.
Leicester won the Championship with relative ease last season, finishing 9 points above runners up Burnley. Despite their wealthy owners, Nigel Pearson has struggled to strengthen his side, with Leonardo Ulloa being the only signing of note, arriving for £7m from Brighton. Leicester have also recruited Matthew Upson and Marc Albrighton on free transfers, two largely uninspiring arrivals. Where will Leicester’s goals come from though? David Nugent has struggled at this level before, and Leonardo Ulloa is yet to play a game in the Premier League. For Leicester’s sake, lets hope Ulloa can replicate his form at Brighton.
If I were a West Brom fan, I would still be wondering ‘why on earth did we sack Steve Clarke?’ West Brom have struggled ever since, with Pepe Mel only just keeping them up last season. Alan Irvine is now at the helm, having had spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Preston, as well as managing the Everton youth team. It seems a strange choice of manager given his lack of experience, but the same was said of Steve Clarke, who had only ever been second in command before taking over at West Brom. As has been the issue with the previously mentioned clubs, where are West Brom’s goals going to come from? Ideye Brown has arrived from Dynamo Kiev for a club record fee of £10m. This seems to be a huge fee for a player who has previously looked very poor in a Nigeria shirt.
Sam Allardyce just can’t win as West Ham boss. Having managed to stabilise them in the Premier League following promotion two seasons ago, the fans are on his back for his less than pretty brand of football. There seems to be tension between Allardyce and the owners, following the arrival of Mauro Zarate, the exclusion of Ravel Morrison from the first team, and the tweet that David Sullivan ‘accidentally’ marked as a favourite; a tweet that indicated Allardyce’s time was up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Allardyce is the first manager to lose his job, and that could be a huge mistake by the West Ham hierarchy.