The fight to avoid the drop is arguably as close as it has ever been, with a multitude of clubs possibly being dragged into the relegation dogfight. In fact, there is an argument to be made for all clubs outside of the top six to be staring into the abyss come May 2019.
Whether it is a lack of investment, fan unrest, managerial deficiencies or simply a lack of talent, we look at the potential frontrunners for the 2018/19 Premier League relegation betting.
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Last year was a record eighth promotion for manager Neil Warnock, but to keep this Cardiff team in the league will most likely need his greatest achievement.
Around €30million spent (so far) from the Bluebirds for the upcoming season, mere pennies compared to the might of the Premier League, particularly when looking at the quality within their squad.
Only Callum Paterson reached double digits for goals in the league last season as goals were shared throughout the squad. Bobby Reid is an interesting signing, a player who scored 19 and assisted seven for Brentford last season and offers another attacking outlet, as does Josh Murphy.
Cardiff’s squad is built more on work ethic than quality, which can get you far in a robust league like the Championship, but can the same trick work against better opposition in the Premier League?
The first three games will likely tell us a lot about Cardiff going forward, playing Bournemouth, Newcastle and Huddersfield; teams that they could well be battling against relegation with and the sort of games that they need to take points from to stay in the league.
In the total season points market, it is tricky to call whether Cardiff will accumulate more than 32.5 points, although it is likely that they should be able to and at 1.588*, that market may interest people.
One of the favourites for relegation in 2017/18, David Wagner has retained all of his key players from last season, including making some important loans permanent like goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
Only seven teams kept more clean sheets than the Terriers last season, a sign of David Wagner’s transformation from an attacking team to a defensive one.
A principle trend of clubs that stay in the Premier League is usually a strong home form.
Their major troubles last season came going forward. Huddersfield failed to score in 21 of their 38 matches, including all but six of their away matches. They ended the season with the joint lowest goals total of just 28.
This was less about a lack of firepower in front of goal; both Steven Mounie and Laurent Depoitre scored close to their expected goals total and looked a threat when given chances. Their issue was creating chances, as support for their frontman was lacking.
This is no new issue for Huddersfield; the year before they scored just 56 goals in the Championship and ended on a negative goal difference. This issue has clearly influenced their expected points total at 36.84, the third lowest in the league.
The signings of Ramadan Sobhi and Adama Diakhaby are David Wagner’s answers, but can they offer the support going forward while continuing their defensive responsibilities?
Nevertheless, I expect Huddersfield to be competitive once again and they should get over 34.5 points over the season, which you can get for 1.883*.
The Seagulls will be looking to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome after surviving in the Premier League last time out. An impressive feat for Brighton considering they picked up just one point from their opening three matches.
Glen Murray had one of his greatest seasons in the top flight of English soccer, notching 12 goals in the process, goals from elsewhere were few and far between.
Only West Brom, Swansea and Huddersfield scored less than Brighton’s 34 last season. So Chris Hughton looked to the Eredivisie and picked up Alireza Jahanbakhsk, a winger who scored 21 and assisted 12 last season. Impressive numbers, yet will there be a similar output in a more competitive league?
Jurgen Locadia has also been added to take the creative burden off Pascal Gross, who himself was a revelation last season, scoring seven, assisting eight and created more chances than any player outside of the top six sides. Hughton will be hoping that his signings will add to an attack that only scored more than one goal on eight occasions.
Overall Brighton have kept the core that stood strong for the most of last season, however, they will need a similar output from their creative players to stand any sort of chance. Whether the likes of Glen Murray can lead the line for yet another full season at this level remains to be seen.
Brighton to win more than 38.5 points this season is currently priced at 1.909*.
Selling prized assets without replacing them almost caught up with Southampton last season. Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Graziano Pelle, Nathaniel Clyne, Victor Wanyama, are some of their core players the Saints have lost over the last few seasons without finding sustainable cover.
Virgil Van Dijk was the recent big name to leave St. Marys, leaving for Liverpool in January, and the defence never recovered (they conceded 1.45 goals per game with Van Dijk and 1.50 with him) as they conceded 56 goals in the league, as many as relegated West Brom and Swansea.
Mark Hughes has invested in Borussia Munchengladbach centre back Jannick Vestergaard, who could steady the ship somewhat, but this is only one hole that needs to be filled.
Just four wins at St Mary's last season was the second worst home record in the league, culminating in just 20 goals in 24 matches. A principle trend of clubs that stay in the Premier League is usually a strong home form, so this will need to be resolved come the start of the season.
Charlie Austin is a great man to have in your front line; the Englishman has scored 13 goals in 21 appearances across the last two seasons. The issue is his injury history. He has started just 21 of Southampton’s 76 games across the last two seasons. If injury strikes again, then the source of goals could also be an issue.
Whether the Saints have learnt their lessons is difficult to decide, particularly as the two seasons before Southampton finished in the top half of the table. If their defensive frailties, in particular at home, are on show once again, then lucky escapes seldom happen twice.
Southampton are priced at 1.751* to win under 45.5 points this season.
The job that Eddie Howe has done at Bournemouth cannot be understated. A young side in a club not able to compete with some of the might in the Premier League cementing themselves in 12th position and another season in the top flight. It was a major turnaround seeing as they won just one of their first eight games last season.
Whilst goals were an issue for Huddersfield, it was keeping them out that scuppered Bournemouth’s push for a top-half finish. Last season Bournemouth kept just six clean sheets; the joint fewest in the division. If there are similar issues this season alongside a drop in form in front of goal, then suddenly Bournemouth could be dragged into a relegation fight.
Their expected goals against looks no better. Only relegated Stoke City (65.54) had a bigger expected goals against total than Bournemouth (64.39), and their expected points total of 37.64 would have seen them finish 17th and just avoiding the drop.
With the likes of Fulham and Wolves coming into the league with a growing budget, how long can Eddie Howe continue to defy expectations and keep them away from the drop zone?
Bournemouth are priced at 1.555* to win under 42.5 points this season and could be the smart bet in the Total season points market.
If you told the Fulham faithful they would be staring at a season in the Premier League last November, they would have probably called you crazy. Bottom third of the Championship and winless in five, they were looking over their shoulder rather than looking towards a playoff spot.
A 23 match unbeaten run that ended on the last day of the season did just that, making the Premier League via a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final.
There is an argument to be made for all clubs outside of the top six to be staring into the abyss come May 2019.
A four-year absence from the top flight will end this season, and whilst most have the simple ambition of just staying in the league when initially returning, there is a feeling that, like returning counterparts Wolves, their ambitions are slightly loftier.
Keeping important stars in Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon in the summer was critical for Slavisa Jokanovic, despite interest from some of the Premier League’s top clubs. If they can replicate their form that saw both make the PFA Championship Team of the Year then the season could well be a successful one.
The signings in the offseason have also been promising. Aleksander Mitrovic’s loan spell last season was crucial in their push for promotion, scoring 12 goals in 18 appearances. Alfie Mawson is a centre back that over the past years has had attraction from some of the Premier League’s finest andJean Michel Seri was a surprise signing after the midfielder attracted interest from both Chelsea and Barcelona.
Their possession-based soccer (57% possession across the season, no team had more) may be redesigned in a league with more quality and will likely see less of the ball, so whether they can mould that system or better yet, keep their possession and shot numbers (averaged 14 shots per games last season) up could be the deciding factors. Their expected points across the season was an incredible 15.3 lower than their final points total, so these numbers may not be sustainable as first thought.
It does look as though the Cottagers should have enough quality to see them through this season, but with young starlets, it will be interesting to see if Fulham can keep hold of them for much longer. Fulham gaining more than 35.5 points at 1.469* could be the smart bet.
Other notable contenders
As explained, there is certainly an argument to be made for so many competing in the Premier League this season.
Burnley could surprise a few and struggle, having to focus on the Europa League and outdoing their expected points total last season by 13. If Burnley go far in their first European outing, then Sean Dyche may be forced to shuffle his team in the league as fatigue sets in.Newcastle have a manager at the helm who has proven he is amongst the best in the league. However, if they lose Benitez, which is potentially possible after sounds of unrest behind the scenes, then the scene could get ugly at St. James Park.