Premier League 2017/18 – Battle to Beat the Drop

With the 2017/18 Premier League season little over a month away, it’s time to take a long hard look at the best bets available. Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Hull all dropped out of the top flight last season, and there were just twelve points separating eighth and eighteenth at the end of the campaign. So, plenty of teams will know there’s a danger of getting caught up in a relegation scrap.

Ladbrokes have two newly promoted sides, Huddersfield, and Brighton & Hove Albion as favourites for the drop. They are followed in the betting by Burnley, Watford, and Swansea, with last season’s Championship champions Newcastle United following them.

Here, we take a team-by-team look at the main candidates and give our verdict on who we think will be saying goodbye to the Premier League next May.

Huddersfield (Relegation odds – 4/7)

Back in the top flight for the first time since 1971/72, Huddersfield are tipped to go straight back down. Some people have even suggested they may break records for the lowest ever points total.

In the four seasons after being promoted back to the Championship, they finished 19th, 17th, 16th, and 19th. So, it was a huge shock when they finished fifth last season and won promotion via the play-offs.

Amazingly, despite their high league finish, they ended the campaign with a minus goal difference and only one team in the top twelve scored less goals.

They needed penalty shoot-out victories over both Sheffield Wednesday and Reading to secure their Premier League place, and are without a win in 90 minutes from their last five competitive games.

One positive is that last season’s top scorer Elias Kachunga has turned his loan move into a permanent deal, whilst Aaron Mooy has done the same by becoming the clubs record scorer.

They have a great team spirit and last season they showed what an average team can do when they play as a unit and have good management. However, staying in the Premier League will require boss David Wagner and his players to perform a minor miracle.

Brighton & Hove Albion (6/5)

Another team returning to the top flight after a lengthy absence, and another expected to go straight back down.

Brighton have been knocking on the door of the Premier League for a few years now, having finished in the play-offs in three of the four seasons before securing promotion with a second-placed finish last season.

Despite their promotion, they threw away a seven-point lead at the top of the table in the last three games to allow Newcastle to pip them to the title.

Their squad does have Premier League experience, with the likes of Steve Sidwell and Glenn Murray, whilst captain Bruno has played over 100 games in La Liga. New goalkeeper Mathew Ryan will add quality between the sticks, as an Australian international who has played in several different countries and was best keeper at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup which his country hosted and won. They also have a manager, in Chris Hughton, who is aware of what’s required at the highest level.

Despite that, they do lack quality throughout their squad and will need to strengthen in every area to stand any chance of finishing above the drop zone.

Burnley (11/8)

Surprised everyone last season by retaining their Premier League status, avoiding relegation for the first time at their third attempt. Sixteenth position, six points above the relegation zone, sounds like a good season for the relegation favourites.

However, despite that achievement, they picked up just two wins from their last fifteen games, and were the lowest scorers outside the bottom three. They also managed only one win away from home all season.

Solid home form played a massive part in their survival, with just two defeats as hosts against teams outside the top six. Their record against fellow strugglers was also a factor, with five wins, four draws, and just three defeats in matches against the other six sides in the bottom seven.

Early signs are that the 2017/18 campaign will be tougher than the last one for Burnley. Manager Sean Dyche looked on the verge of leaving for pastures new just a couple of weeks ago, and a few top players could be set to leave. Michael Keane is almost certain of joining Everton, whilst forward Andre Gray is just one other player on the radar of several bigger clubs.

They will need to score more goals and improve their away form, as well as recreating their home form and keeping stability in the management and playing staff. Then, they may have a chance of staying up.

Watford (6/4)

With six games left last season, Watford were in tenth position and looking like finishing in the top half. However, six straight defeats saw them fall to a final position of 17th.

Their biggest problem last term was scoring goals. In 2015/16, the partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo netted a total of 28. Last season, Deeny only scored ten, Ighalo was sold having scored just once in eighteen appearances, and it didn’t quite work out for the two players brought in to add potency to the attack. Mauro Zarate suffered a season-ending injury in his third appearance, and M’Baye Niang netted just twice in eleven games.

Marco Silva takes charge, having just failed to keep Hull in the top flight last season, and Will Hughes will add flair to the midfield. If they can score more goals, they should be able to keep themselves clear of danger, but that’s a big if.

Swansea (9/4)

Managerial upheaval, as well as players like Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew being sold, led to Swansea struggling last season.

The past few seasons had seen them establish themselves as a solid mid-table side, but they found themselves stuck in a relegation battle for the whole campaign in 2016/17. They won just one of their first twelve games, and were sitting in 19th at Christmas with Hull only below them on goal difference.

Flashes of good form gave them hope but just one point from six matches in March and April saw them deep in danger. However, four wins and a draw from their last five lifted them to 15th and guaranteed another season among the elite of English football.

Paul Clement has now had time to put his stamp on the side and they will start this campaign full of confidence. If they can get off to a good start and keep the morale up, they should have a season spent away from the danger zone.

Newcastle (7/2)

Unexpectedly relegated in 2015/16 but bounced straight back by winning the Championship title, scoring most goals in the division and conceding the joint least with Brighton.

Rafa Benitez is a top manager and will be confident of leading a team full of top flight experience to Premier League safety.

If they perform as they did towards the end of the 2015/16 season, and for most of last term, they should stay clear of the drop.

Other Relegation Candidates

Crystal Palace (9/2) – Under-performed last season and have had some managerial upheaval. However, Frank de Boer is a great appointment at the helm and they have a squad capable of causing everyone problems. Can achieve a mid-table finish.

Bournemouth (6/1) – Finished ninth last season and have already strengthened their attack with the addition of Jermain Defoe, as well as permanently signing Nathan Ake after a successful loan spell. Should be mid-table at least.

West Brom (6/1) – Finished tenth last season despite a winless run of nine games to end the campaign. Have signed Jay Rodriguez to add more goals, after top scorer Salomon Rondon netted just eight last term. There’s a danger they could struggle if they don’t get off to a good start.

Stoke (7/1) – Won only two of their final eleven matches last season and found goals hard to come by for most of the campaign. Could struggle unless they add some quality in attack.

West Ham (9/1) and Leicester (14/1) are two teams who at times looked like they could fall into the danger zone, but both ended up well clear of the drop and should both be pushing for a top-half finish in 2017/18.

Prediction and Betting Tips

We predict that Huddersfield will go down, as the bottom placed side, although they may surprise a few by causing teams more problems than expected. Brighton look to lack enough depth for the inevitable relegation battle and will probably join Huddersfield back in the Championship.

Burnley will struggle, especially if Keane and Gray do leave, while the value bet could be Stoke. At 7/1, they provide decent value and will struggle if they get off to a poor start and fail to add a lot more goals.

Our best bet is Huddersfield to be finish bottom, priced at 7/4 at Bet 365. The top value bet is Stoke to be relegated, at odds of 7/1 with the same bookmaker.