Trevor Steven Premier League preview, part one: Why Huddersfield, Brighton and Swansea are my tips for relegation

 
Trevor Steven
Follow Trevor
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Brighton are back in the top flight – but face a fight to stay there (Source: Getty)

Some years it can be difficult to identify relegation candidates but, as the new season prepares to kick off this weekend, I have a firm idea of who I think will drop out of the Premier League in May.

Brighton

Brighton pulled off a great achievement in securing a return to the top flight but this division is all about quality and, with the best will in the world, their squad doesn’t look good enough.

Read more: Brighton chief explains off-field strategy of Championship club

The Seagulls would almost need to have their equivalent of a Leicester season, in which everything worked perfectly and went right for them, just to survive.

Most of their players haven’t got the required experience at this level. They will deservedly enjoy the ride but I think the club would view staying up as a bonus.

Huddersfield

If Brighton’s chance of survival looks slim, then I make Huddersfield’s non-existent.

Their squad also lacks the quality and experience needed in the Premier League. In fact, it has to be one of the weakest groups of players to be promoted in recent years.

Aston Villa v Huddersfield Town: Sky Bet Championship
David Wagner upset the odds to take Huddersfield up (Source: Getty)

Both Huddersfield boss David Wagner and his Brighton counterpart Chris Hughton will already have pinpointed the games they think they can win or draw to get to that magical 40-point mark.

Wagner undoubtedly made the best of what he had last term and they will be relying on another unified team effort this year.

But I really can’t see how that squad stays up; if he manages it Wagner will have pulled off a miracle and should walk into a massive job.

Newcastle, Bournemouth, Burnley, West Brom

The combination of Rafa Benitez at the helm and squad experience should be enough to see Newcastle, the other promoted team, through. They are also big enough to buy their way out of trouble.

AFC Bournemouth v Valencia CF - Pre Season Friendly
Nathan Ake is one of Bournemouth's astute summer signings (Source: Getty)

Bournemouth look ready to improve. I’m a big fan of manager Eddie Howe and he has shopped well in Asmir Begovic, Nathan Ake and Jermain Defoe, who should be motivated ahead of a World Cup summer.

West Brom ought to be fine – Tony Pulis is like a great mechanic; he can get a second-hand old banger to finish a race – while Burnley know the ropes and I expect Southampton to be mid-table.

Crystal Palace

I have some concerns about Crystal Palace, though, and I think the club’s owners will be crossing their fingers after appointing Frank de Boer.

De Boer’s brief management career has been spent entirely at top clubs, winning the Dutch league four years in a row with Ajax and then taking charge at Inter Milan for an ill-fated spell.

Palace and the challenges they face are a completely different proposition.

FBL-ENG-PR-CRYSTAL PALACE-MANAGER
Frank de Boer is taking on a different sort of challenge at Palace (Source: Getty)

I expect him to make them a footballing side, but they will need to get off to a good start because I don’t think they’ll have the aggression to get themselves back into it if they do not.

The pressure will be on and they need to beware, because they look like being in the bottom six.

Watford

Watford lost their final seven games last season, having got points on the board early, and it’s hard to see them aiming for anything more than survival again this time.

Arsenal v Watford - Premier League
Watford have been too reliant on the goals of Troy Deeney (Source: Getty)

I like new manager Marco Silva, who looks more suitable than predecessor Walter Mazzarri, but the squad is not great and they haven’t spent enough to go to the next level.

They have been far too reliant on Troy Deeney for goals. Andre Gray’s arrival for a club record £18m is a step in the right direction, but I still think they face a massive challenge.

Read more: Troy Deeney interview: From prison to the Premier League

Swansea

Swansea, meanwhile, did well to stay up under Paul Clement but need to sort out a squad that is temporarily without forward Fernando Llorente and looks almost certain to lose Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Llorente was a lifesaver last term but will miss the first few games with a broken arm and even then, at the age of 32, may take time to recover sharpness.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-SWANSEA
Gylfi Sigurdsson has been a vital player for Swansea – but for how long? (Source: Getty)

He and Everton target Sigurdsson were the reason Swansea survived last season and, while I think the last relegation place will be between them and Watford, it’s missing those two players that makes me lean towards the Swans.

Trevor Steven's bottom three

18th Swansea

19th Brighton

20th Huddersfield

Read more: Football Manager's five players set to blow up this season

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles