The Premier League is back as we look at the latest relegation odds as Ladbrokes announce a new free bets offer for the season which kicks off later today.
In the second of a two-part series Squeakybumtime looks ahead to which clubs will be involved in the dreaded relegation battle for the new season.
Last season saw two of the promoted sides achieve their aim of staying up with West Ham United and Southampton both safely maintaining their status. Reading, who arrived as Championship winners, never fully came to terms with their return to the big time and joined big spending QPR and perennial relegation dodgers Wigan in the bottom three.
Their places have been taken by Crystal Palace, Hull City and Cardiff and it’s no surprise to find the trio are the bookies favourites to make a swift return to the Championship.
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Palace minus the talents of last season’s talisman Wilfried Zaha are the favourites to go straight back down with Bet365 offering 4/9 on Ian Holloway failing to see a second successive season in the top flight.
The former Blackpool manager has found it difficult to sell the Selhurst Park dream with the outlandish fee spend on Peterborough striker Dwight Gayle the club’s most high profile capture.
More importantly to the Eagles however could be the decision to hand 40 year old Kevin Philips another chance at the big time.
Like Palace, Hull have failed to inspire the bookies with the summer signings. Unknown quantity Yannick Sagbo and former Swansea star Danny Graham look set to lead the line with Curtis Davis last seen in the Championship with a Birmingham side that struggled last season and Allan McGregor in the back line.
Steve Bruce has experience of keeping sides in the Premier League however and he will need to call on all that experience if he is to defy the 8/13 odds on offer.
Cardiff could be a surprise contender to stay up. The Welsh side have showed some ambition in the transfer market this summer, twice breaking their transfer record with moves for Steven Caulker and Andrea Cornelius.
They also boast one of the games highly rated young manager in Malkay Mackay. However despite his tactical promise and the almost £17 million outlay the squad looks thin and injuries could scupper any potential survival prospects.
Value as always is found outside the favourites and an interesting contender to be amongst the strugglers is West Bromwich Albion.
Every season brings surprises at one end of the table or the other and last season the Midlanders enjoyed a fantastic season last year with Steve Clarke making the transition from coach to manager with ease. Aided by the goals of Romelu Lukaku the Baggies finished the season comfortably in 8th place.
However second season syndrome for managers can often come into play and with Lukaku returning to Chelsea the responsibility for goals will fall on the shoulders of Shane Long, who has yet to score more than 8 goals in a Premier League season, and the 34 year old Nicholas Anelka.
Along with Lukaku West Bromwich have also lost Marc-Antoine Fortune while Peter Odemwingie is another striker that will not be on the books come September.
A positive however is the addition of Diego Lugano who looks an exciting capture and will add strength to the back line.
While it’s unlikely that WBA will do down they could experience a similar season to the one that Newcastle endured last season.
After a stunning season in 2011/2012 when the Magpies threatened to break into the top the club struggled last season finishing in 16th place just 5 off the relegation zone, the same could happen West Brom if they hit a poor run of form.
Speaking of Newcastle, their lack of success in the transfer market could have a real baring on confidence in the squad and with deals struggling to be completed they could be in for another season of struggle with mid-table obscurity a real probability.
West Brom are 7/1 with Bet365 to drop down a division while Alan Pardew’s side are 17/2, a tempting bet especially if the Joe Kinnear experiment proves even more cumbersome than Newcastle fan envisage.
Norwich finished the season in 11th spot last season with a strong first half of the season the catalyst for survival. This time round they look more prepared with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper coming into replace Grant Holt in the forward line, immediately making them stronger looking.
Surprisingly despite the addition of the prolific duo Norwich are 3/1 with Betfair to go down while the Paulo Di Canio revolution at the Stadium of Light has failed to inspire with the Mackems a tempting 9/2 to drop.
Di Canio has been very busy this summer and there success will very much depend on how well the new arrivals, all 9 of them, gel.
A change in manager aside, Stoke have not been busy this summer with the appointment Mark Hughes at the helm failing to excite, all round.
The Potters struggled badly last season and while they have bolstered their defensive options with the signings of Marc Muniesa and Erik Peters they have failed to add to a forward line that was the second worst in the division last year.
Bet365 makes Stoke 3/1 joint fourth favourites for the drop and they along with Hull and Crystal Palace are the Squeakybumtime’s three to go down.