When it comes to the English Premier League, the fight for survival is often just as enthralling as the quest for the crown.
In this fifth and final part of BP’s 2019/20 EPL season preview, we take a look at the outright odds and first-team squads for Burnley, Brighton, Sheffield United and Norwich City, all of whom will be ensnared in the relegation catfight.
The 2019/20 Premier League campaign could be a make-or-break season for Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Having guided his side to a seventh-place finish in the 2017/18 season, the gaffer watched as his side toiled away last season to wind up only six points above the cut-off in 15th.
Cautious to avoid another emotional rollercoaster, Dyche has brought back striker Jay Rodriguez from West Brom and Dutch defender Erik Peters from Stoke City. Rodriguez, who rose through the ranks at Turf Moor before moving to Southampton in 2012, returns to his boyhood for a fee of £10 million, whereas Peters joined for a reported £1.5 million.
PART THREE: TOP 10 FOR LEICESTER AND WEST HAM?
Youngsters Joel Senior and Ryan Cooney are in on season-long loans, with Senior coming from National League North side Curzon Ashton and Cooney from League One’s Bury.
Despite a catalogue of calamities last season that could be attributed to their numerous Europa League trips, a renewed focus on domestic duties could see the Clarets retain their place in the Premier League.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Graham Potter has his work cut out for him this season. About to begin their third uninterrupted season in England’s highest echelon of professional football, Brighton’s primary assignment is to maintain their Premier League status.
The Seagulls survived relegation by a whisker last term after finishing just two points above the drop zone, which brought Chris Hughton’s stay at Falmer Stadium to a premature end even though he led the club to the FA Cup semi-finals.
It doesn’t take much thinking to figure out where Brighton’s problem was last season. Having churned out just three wins during the second half of the season while failing to score in six of their last 10 games, they needed to seal loopholes at the back while injecting pace and creativity upfront.
That is perhaps what inspired Potter to push for the signing of Bristol City defender Adam Webster for a club record of £20 million and Belgian winger Leandro Trossard from Genk for a fee of £18 million. Additional defensive reinforcements came in the form of Matt Clarke from Portsmouth at an estimated fee of £3.5 million, while Lewis Freestone joined from Peterborough United on a free transfer.
On top of carrying out some decent business, the Seagulls now have a manager with a reputable attacking philosophy. That, however, doesn’t mean they will be let off the hook in the fight for survival.
After a 12-year wait, Sheffield United are back in the Premier League after securing automatic promotion with a second-place finish in the Championship behind Norwich City.
Sheffield-born Chris Wilder is the man credited with returning the Blades to the top flight, having taking them from the foot of League One to the EPL in merely three years.
PART FOUR: WILL ASTON VILLA JUSTIFY BIG BUYS?
Certainly not celebrated for their financial prominence, United broke their club record when they spent £10 million to sign French forward Lys Mousset from Bournemouth. The club also spent £7 million on Preston forward Callum Robinson and an additional £5 million to lure midfielder Luke Freeman from Queens Park Rangers, while defender Phil Jagielka has rejoined the club on a free transfer having departed 12 years ago to Everton.
Having been away from the Premier League for such a long time and lacking in high-calibre players, it’s hard not to see Sheffield struggling this season.
Despite the club pocketing over £150 million after winning the Championship and returning to the English top flight, sporting director Stuart Webber made it clear from the offset that Norwich City would not risk their financial health for the sake of maintaining Premier League status.
Nowhere near Aston Villa’s lavish and extravagant spending in the transfer market, the Canaries have parted with a little over £5 million on new signings. Manager Daniel Farke has been accorded only four first-team signings, two of which are loan agreements.
Right-back Sam Byram joins from West Ham for a reported £750k, while midfielder Daniel Adshead comes in for around £300k from League One side Rochdale. Their biggest buy was a £3 million deal that saw German goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann sign from Schalke on a season-long loan.
The Canaries rather undermined Farke’s pleas for patience when they clinched the Championship way ahead of schedule. With no investment in the squad, Norwich look doomed to make a quick return to the second tier.