The 2016-17 Premier League season kicks off this weekend, but which teams face a long hard battle against relegation?
Sunderland - A bleak future for the black cats?
Big Sam has never been relegated during his managerial career and this proved to be the case again last season after some end of season heroics for Sunderland to survive in the premier league yet again. His departure deals a huge blow to pre-season preparations, certainly David Moyes will need to impose his philosophy on Sunderland quickly and has already spoke about the lack of squad depth. After escaping relegation so dramatically over the past two seasons, this campaign could be the one where Sunderland suffer the drop. Sportingbet are best price of relegation at 3.6
West brom - Can the Baggies avoid the relegation run in?
Management seem to be ready to invest if the rumoured £16 million club record offer for Diafra Sakho is anything to go by. The firepower is sorely needed, Berahino found the back of the net just four times last season (31 games) and seven times in all competitions. Tony Pulis knows how to organise a side and this squad looks more positive than previous efforts. A big up front signing should be enough to keep them out of the last three. Betvictor are best price at 3.5
Watford - What will 2016/17 hold for the Hornets?
There isn't a lot of quality in this squad past Deeney and Ighalo. The two strikers were Watford’s best players last season and their combined 28 goals were the biggest single reason the Hornets were able to stay in the division. That said the team finished in a respectable 13th last season and the club has been busy during the summer transfer window, signing Liverpool's Jerome Sinclair as well as several other players. They got a good start last year which helped them avoid the rough and tumble at the end of the season as their results for the second half of the season were poor. The Hornets managed only four victories, a run of form that eventually saw manager Quique Sanchez Flores out of a job. They are leaky in defence conceding 32 goals in their final 18 games. They will need to improve at the back as well as hope Deeney and Igalho continue their run of form to ensure a successful relegation battle-free campaign. Paddy Power are best price at 3.3
Middlesbrough - Can the spending spree keep them up?
Spend, spend, spend! This seems to be Middlesbrough mantra in complete contrast to fellow promoted club Burnley. Middlesbrough have nine new additions to the squad including Viktor Fischer, an on loan Negredo and Antonio Barragan. Potentially one of the best is the 6ft 1in central midfielder, Marten de Roon, a young Dutchman signed from Italy’s Atalanta for £12m. He made more tackles than any other midfielder in Serie A last season. Karanka is known for his tempestuous nature, rumoured dressing room unrest and spats with players led to him walking out of training in March this year. He also got hot under the collar with frustration at officials during last year's pressured campaign. Can he keep a cool head in the top flight? Paddypower are best price at 3.1
Hull - Is there any hope for Hull?
Play off winners Hull are the current favourites to get relegated. Steve Bruce stood down as manager in July after growing frustrated with the club’s inactivity in the transfer market, with 18-year-old goalkeeper Will Mannion still the only signing made despite the departure of Mohamed Diame, Ryan Taylor and Sone Aluko and an injury crisis that has claimed Allan McGregor, Alex Bruce, Moses Odubajo and Michael Dawson among its victims.
Bruce, meanwhile, has still not been replaced with just days before Hull’s opening-day encounter against champions Leicester Citya 2-2 friendly draw against Barnsley and with thier owner Assem Allam seriously ill the season it does not look promising for the club. StanJames are best price at 1.73
Burnley - Can the Clarets Cling On?
Burnley rose back to the Premier League at the first attempt in 2015-16, after getting relegated a season earlier. This was hugely in part to striker Gray, who led the Championship with 23 goals in 41 appearances for the club. Their defense too deserves a lot of credit, they allowed the second fewest goals in the league. That's the good news, more worryingly is the lack of transfer activity over the Summer, the squad lacks depth and premier league experience.
Also their first quarter season fixture list looks tough, really tough. Burnley welcome Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season before travelling to Wales where they face Swansea. They then host Manchester United and their record by the end of August could very well read: 'played 3. lost 3'. The last thing Dyche will want is for a massive gap to open up between his side and the rest of the league by Christmas but looking at the games that may be the case. Add to the fact that pre season results have been less than spectacular, Burnley will need to show real strength of character and will need to dig deep to stay up this season. Skybet are best price at evens.
Hull - 20th
Sunderland - 19th
Watford - 18th
West Brom and Burnley will narrowly avoid relegation while Middlesbrough's canny squad investment will see them suprise many and finish well above the 40 points required to stay up.