The 201718 Premier League campaign is well and truly underway but we have already seen a few shock results. Burnley, notoriously poor travellers last season, are unbeaten in three away trips to Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – picking up five points from a possible nine.
Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez has waved his magic wand and newly promoted Newcastle United are fourth in the table. Yes, that’s right – fourth. Magpies fans, you’ve had an excellent start to the campaign but don’t be hasty, I wouldn’t be preparing for away trips to Barcelona, Milan and Munich just yet...
While Newcastle and Burnley may end up in the relegation scrap, they will not be included in this article at the present moment. For now, I’m focusing purely on those who look like dropping down to the second tier on current form.
As mentioned by 888sport writer Sam Cox, Frank de Boer was the early favourite to become the first managerial casualty of the campaign and the Dutchman was relieved of his duties after just four Premier League games in charge.
With Roy Hodgson now at the helm, Palace showed glimpses of improvement against Southampton but the same glaring problems – particularly in attack – continue to haunt the Eagles.
Unsurprisingly, Palace are favourites to suffer relegation at 17/20. Hodgson failed to inspire confidence as England manager at the European Championships last summer and it is hard to put too much faith in the new Eagles boss.
The Selhurst Park faithful will be praying that Hodgson can mastermind a mid-season revival but this Palace squad is in dire need of a lift ahead of a tricky run of fixtures. It is probably going to get worse before it gets better...
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
It looked for all the world as though Brighton were going to snatch a crucial victory at Bournemouth on Friday but the Cherries scored two late goals to hand Chris Hughton’s side another Premier League defeat.
Brighton are currently 16th in the table having picked up four points from a possible 15 and, like most newly promoted clubs, their home form will be crucial to surviving in England’s top flight this season.
Worryingly, the Seagulls have only managed to score four goals so far this season; and three of those came in Brighton’s victory over West Bromwich Albion. Signing a proven Premier League striker in January should be Hughton’s main priority.
Despite their already precarious position, Brighton are a 21/20 shot to go down this season and punters will expect the Seagulls to struggle. Hughton will be confident but Brighton may struggle to avoid the drop when the going gets tough.
Huddersfield fans were in dreamland on the opening weekend. David Wagner’s men were rampant when beating Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park before securing another victory over Newcastle.
But since then, it has all gone pear-shaped for the newly promoted outfit. The Terriers may be sixth in the table but you could argue that they are yet to face a top half side. In time, Huddersfield will have a blip.
Next month, Wagner’s side will face Manchester United and Liverpool before clashes with Manchester City and Arsenal in November. A heavy defeat or two might affect confidence going into the busy festive period; Huddersfield will be wary of this.
Backed by many to finish rock bottom with an unwanted Premier League record for the lowest number of points, Huddersfield have already shown what they are capable of. But maintaining this level of effort over the course of the season could be a stretch too far...
Friday night’s victory over Brighton was massive for Eddie Howe. Pressure was starting to grow on his shoulders but Jermain Defoe’s late winner should help to put an end to any immediate murmurs of unrest on the terraces.
Bournemouth have been poor so far this season. Sluggish in possession and unreliable in defence, the Cherries will now look to build on that victory as they look to maintain their top flight status.
Fixtures against fellow strugglers Everton and Leicester await and Bournemouth will expect to pick up at least three points from those two fixtures. Howe’s squad is rather limited but he still has that unique ability to get the most out of his players.
November will be key to Bournemouth’s Premier League aspirations. The Cherries will take on Newcastle, Huddersfield, Swansea and Burnley – four relegation rivals. A positive run of results could see Howe’s men pull away from the pack...
Swansea are now regarded as an established Premier League club but that could all change this season. The Jacks have struggled to put a run of form together in recent years and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Welsh side involved in a scrap.
After picking up a draw against Tottenham at Wembley, this may seem harsh but Paul Clement’s side deserve to be included in the relegation battle. Having picked up just five points so far, Swansea are in real need of a lift.
With fixtures against Watford, West Ham and Huddersfield before a difficult month or so, it is imperative that the Welsh outfit get points on the board. Building momentum could make all the difference come the end of May.
At the time of writing, Swansea are 11/5 to fall into England’s second tier. If Renato Sanches and Wilfried Bony struggle to gel and adjust to life at the Liberty Stadium, the Swans could be in trouble after losing chief playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer.