Premier League 2021/22: Top Contenders for Relegation
With the English Premier League underway, the race for the top spots is firmly on. However, in the bottom half of the table, there is another fight going on as the weaker sides try to escape the three dreaded relegation spots.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the main candidates to be relegated to the second tier of English football at the end of this season.
Norwich City F.C
Norwich had a disastrous Premier League run in 2019/2020, managing to win only five games and collecting 21 points, in total. They were relegated to the Championship the following season, but not for long. A strong campaign saw them crowned as champions, with more points, goals scored and less conceded than their 2018/2019 run.
It is undeniable that Daniel Farke identified the team’s key weakness, such as the need for a stronger defensive system, and tried to prepare the team for a stronger run this year. However, too many individual mistakes and a hard time scoring goals may see them back in the Championship, as outright Premier League betting odds price them as favourites to be relegated at odds of 1/5.
At the time of writing, Norwich has lost six of its seven games, collecting only one point and currently sitting in last place. Additionally, the team has only scored two goals, with Teemu Pukki being the only player to make it to the scoreboard. Milot Rashica, Buendía’s replacement, is yet to score and Josh Sargent is also yet to prove himself.
After five consecutive years in the Premier League, Watford caved in and was demoted to the Championship in 2019/2020. However, just like Norwich, they fought their way back and earned their spot in the Premier League after finishing second last season.
They had the best defence in the Championship, with only 30 goals conceded. Going into a new season in the Premier League, the squad is mostly the same. The key differences are the absence of important players, such as Abdoulaye Doucouré and Deulofeu and some interesting new faces, such as Imran Louza, Emmanuel Dennis and Danny Rose.
For now, their initial run has been well above expectations. Currently, the Hornets stand in the bottom half of the table, with four defeats, two wins and a draw, escaping relegation spots. However, the impact of the unexpected appointment of Claudio Ranieri as head coach is yet to be truly assessed.
Burnley’s 2020/2021 season was quite disappointing. Without defender Ben Mee to lead the defence, after the first six rounds, Burnley had just one point. Finishing with an 11-point lead to relegated Fulham, the Clarets had the third-worst attack in the Premier League. While they did put an end to Liverpool’s streak of 68 unbeaten games at Anfield, it was undoubtedly their worst campaign after re-joining the PL in 2016.
Without any impactful reinforcements, Burnley’s chances of staying in the EPL depend a lot on Sean Dyche’s ability to make Burnley better than the sum of their parts. The 50-year-old manager, who has just signed a new four-year deal with Burnley, has a solid set of players to escape relegation, but the team can’t rely on the performance of club stars, such as Dwight McNeil and Mee. For now, the team has been unable to win any of its seven games and has only three points.
While these teams are outright favourites to finish in the last three spots of the Premier League table, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Southampton are also strong contenders to join the Championship next season.