As the new Premier League season draws ever closer a lot of eyes will be on the newly promoted sides: Norwich, Brentford and Watford. Norwich and Watford secured emphatic returns to the Premier League, with Brentford booking their first trip to the top flight in a convincing 2-0 victory at Wembley against Swansea City. The bookies three favourites for relegation, there seems to be little optimism around these sides but is this pessimism justified?
Prediction: 20th – Relegation
In their last season of Premier League football Norwich City finished bottom of the league on 21 points, and have shown little to suggest that they can make the transition into cementing a position in England’s top flight.
In their last season in the Premier League, the canaries struggled to convert chances into goals with Teemu Pukki unable to replicate the goalscoring form he showed in the Championship. Despite investing in Werder Bremen forwards Milot Rashica and Josh Sargent, ultimately Norwich do not appear to have enough cutting edge going forward to suggest they are capable of avoiding the drop.
Furthermore, Norwich have arguably lost their most influential player in Emi Buendia to Aston Villa. The Argentine amassed 15 goals and 15 assists last season in the Championship with Norwich currently missing a talisman to guide them towards to Premier League safety.
Two players who could potentially take the reigns for Norwich would be Todd Cantwell and Milot Rashica but neither go into the season as Premier League proven players. Ultimately it appears ever likely that Norwich will replicate their last Premier League campaign and lack the guile needed to survive the drop.
The Canaries have made some shrewd signings with the acquisitions of Billy Gilmour and Pierre Lees-Melou making for a dynamic pivot in midfield but overall they remain a side that lacks sufficient quality. Come the end of the season it can also be expected that Norwich will lose multiple key players from their squad with individuals such as Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell expected to showcase during the season that they have the ability to play at the highest level.
Watford have acted efficiently in the transfer market to add to their squad with the signings of Danny Rose and Josh King on free transfers who, in addition to individuals such as Ben
Foster, Christian Kabasele and veteran Troy Deeney, will provide the Hornets with an experienced core.
Watford also possess promising quality with younger players such as Jeremy Ngakia and Joao Pedro impressing last season in the Championship and expected to carry this form into their debut Premier League campaigns.
Importantly, after relegation, Watford were able to keep hold of midfielder Will Hughes and forward Ismaila Sarr, with both players receiving offers to remain in the Premier League.
Keeping hold of these two players will come as a great benefit to Watford with both players having showcased their pedigree at Premier League level.
If Watford are able to keep ahold of both players during the season it can be expected that Watford will have the quality in the final third which relegation rivals such as Norwich will lack.
In recent years, the majority of turbulence within Vicarage Road has been a direct result of the club’s inability to give a manager time, with Marco Silva and Nigel Pearson the most well-known managers to be removed from the hot seat. In their return to the Premier League, it is important that Watford give Xisco Munoz the time to develop his side, with the Hornets facing a tough fixture list between November and December.
After securing promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history, Brentford enter the season as an unknown quantity for many Premier League fans but have the
potential to surprise a few. For Brentford, the difference between survival and relegation could well hinge on Ivan Toney’s ability to adapt to the demands of the Premier League.
Toney has been one of the most potent strikers across the EFL in the last few seasons and netted 33 goals in his debut season for the Bees, and the striker will be hoping to be able to replicate Patrick Bamford’s seamless transition into scoring in the Premier League. Brentford possess a strong core of players with the likes of Rico Henry, Josh Dasilva and
Bryan Mbeumo are all tipped to excel in their debut Premier League seasons.
More importantly, Brentford have seemingly learned from the mistakes of clubs like Fulham whose relegation in 2019 was often accredited to the overhaul of their squad. So far the Bees have added smartly to the squad with highly-rated Celtic centre-back Kristoff Ajer the standout purchase.
On top of this Brentford have moved to add depth to their squad with Winger Yoanne Wissa netting 10 goals last season for Lorient, and Nigerian Frank Onyeka adding defensive
resilience and energy to the Brentford midfield.
In their first Premier League season, Brentford should have just enough to avoid relegation. Additionally if after surviving the drop the Bees are able to build upon their squad, their
astute and statistical approach to transfers could see Brentford replicate the growth of clubs like Leicester and Aston Villa in years to come.