Premier League 20/21 Relegation Tips: Seagulls and Eagles to fly south

Jamie Pacheco is swerving all three promoted sides in his quest to successfully back two teams for the drop with two low-scorers from last season in his sights..

Enigmatic Bielsa should ensure Leeds safety

An obvious place to start looking for relegation candidates is among the promoted sides.

Last season it was Norwich who went up and then down, the season before both Cardiff and Fulham only stayed for a season, the campaign before that they all stayed up, the season before that one it was Hull and Middlesbrough and back in 2015-16 it was Norwich again, who enjoyed the ecstasy of being promoted, only to suffer the agony of dropping down a division just a few months later.

Hardly the biggest possible sample but as a roughish estimate, we're saying that on average one of the three promoted teams goes down.

But I certainly don't think Leeds will be one of them and by the looks of it, neither does the market, making them 4.60 for the drop, just the sixth favourites. I'm not sure if the rationale there is how easily they won The Championship (by a clear 10 points, seeing as you asked) or that they already have a decent squad and may yet improve it. But I know what my rationale is: the manager.

Marcelo Bielsa has managed the likes of Argentina, Chile, Lazio, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao over a 30-year career and his unusual philosophies, unorthodox tactics and vast experience will stand him in good for this new challenge. Leeds should be just fine.

'Other two' discounted on price

Fulham and West Brom are a very different story. WBA have been the archetypal Yoyo-team and have been relegated a total of four times since the Premier League began, though in truth, what happened a decade and a half ago isn't of great relevance this time round.

Fulham were pretty awful the season before last and though they look a more disciplined and together side this time round under Scott Parker, I still think they're a bit too dependent on Aleksandar Mitrovic. They did admittedly get through the play-off semis and final (he played one minute in that one) without him when he was injured but I'm not sure where they would have been without his 26 league goals.

But the problem for me with both those teams is price. It's 2.16 the pair and with the stats suggesting on average only one of the new sides goes straight down, I don't think it's worth trying to choose one with that sort of return (a poor one) on offer. Nor do I want to be doubling my stake, backing them both and losing twice the amount if they both avoid the drop!

Palace's problems upfront could hurt them

Right, so if that's who we're not backing, then who are we going with?

Step forward Crystal Palace, who are 3.35. I doubt there are too many nicer men in football than Roy Hodgson, but this could be a real season of struggle for him.

Despite a dreadful post lockdown run, Palace ended the season in a respectable 14th last time out but the biggest clue to why this might be a really hard season for them is the number of goals they scored last time out: just 31. Only bottom-of-the-table Norwich (26) scored less.

Jordan Ayew did a good job of scoring nine, Wilfried Zaha got four, but after that their next most 'prolific' marksmen got just three.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a strategy of keeping things tight and playing to your supposed strengths and the 50 goals they conceded meant they ranked a highly impressive 10th in this regard but I'm not sure they can do that all over again.
Their players in defence are decent, honest and hard-working but unless they make a couple of really good signings in that area, I'd be very surprised if they can even come close to conceding just 50 again.

Then there's Zaha himself. He had a poor season by his standards and to me he seemed like he spent most of it sulking about not getting the transfer he wanted. He may actually be past his best anyway but either they sell him and lose their most creative player, one of very few real quality options in attack, or they keep him and we have another season of an unhappy player going through the motions.

Even if they do sell him, I'm not sure who they can get in who can make a real difference in attack.

Are Brighton 'clones' of Palace?

A lot of what I said above about Palace is also true of Brighton, a 4.80 shot and the side who finished one place below Palace. With just 39 goals scored, they were joint-fifth worst. They ranked sixth (from bottom) for most goals conceded.

What they did do last season was come back from the enforced break very well. I wonder if it hadn't happened, if they'd still have stayed up. We'll never know but I do know that they were in a world of trouble when it did come.

Like with Palace, I'm not crazy about their attacking options and similar to the Eagles, I'm also not sure who (with all due respect) they're going to get in who can really bring something to the party.

I also don't reckon Graham Potter is as savvy and experienced as Hodgson and they're a considerably bigger price. So if anything, they're an even better bet.



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