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Nic Ladds 3rd Aug 2010 - 10:27

English Premier League relegation preview

As the race at the top of the table becomes one of the most open and unpredictable in recent years, the battle to avoid relegation may not be as predictable as it first seems.

For many people, two of the three names dropping down a division are already doomed.

Perennial yo-yo team West Brom (10/11) were pretty comfortable once again in The Championship last season and are expected to make an immediate return.

Roberto di Matteo has struggled to attract any real big name players to The Hawthorns and the only arrivals have been Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill and centre-back Pablo Ibanez while Stephen Reid and Gabriel Tamas have made their loan moves permanent.

Their strike force currently consists of Simon Cox, Roman Bednar and Ishmael Miller, none of whom have ever proven themselves capable in the top flight.

Their best signing is arguably tying down Graham Dorrans to a long-term contract, despite a £4m bid from West Ham. They have lost Borja Valero on loan to Villarreal though and it is hard to see them avoiding a relegation battle unless we see an unlikely influx of quality signings before September 1st.

West Brom have always dealt with promotion by not spending much and using the money to secure the club financially and although this puts the club in good stead it means they struggle to get a foothold in the Premier League.

The other club people are expecting to see around the bottom of the table is, understandably, Blackpool (1/4).

The Seasiders exceeded all expectations by gaining promotion through the play-offs last season and their squad reflects that.

Although we have seen some pretty great escapes by weak teams over the years, the really poor squads often get found out over the course of 38 matches.

Think back to Derby County in 2007/08 when they managed just 11 points, the season before that when Watford were well adrift and the season before that one when Sunderland managed just 15 points.

Although newly promoted clubs have done well (Stoke, Wigan, Sunderland, Birmingham in recent years) I really can't see where Blackpool's quality and moments of brilliance will come from.

At least West Brom have a couple of players around the midfield that could chip in with goals, Blackpool will purely rely on Charlie Adam for everything.

When your current striking line-up consists of Brett Ormerod, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Jason Euell - it isn't hard to see why they are massive favourites to go down.

The real value and interest comes from trying to predict the third team that goes down.

The odds suggest Wigan (2/1) and Wolves (2/1) could be in for tough seasons, along with the third newly promoted club, Newcastle (3/1).

I think Wigan have just enough quality to just avoid the drop this year, but Wolves and Newcastle are missing goals from their attacks and could struggle unless they get some new faces.

If you think Blackpool and West Brom are nailed on to go down, some good prices can be found by predicting the third team to join them in our relegation trebles.

For all three promoted clubs to go straight back down (Blackpool/West Brom/Newcastle) you can get an impressive looking 9/1. With plenty of other combinations

Where I think there could be some value is with Fulham (11/2). Their side is not much different from the one that battled relegation and I think Roy Hodgson was the only thing keeping them up.

Unless new manager Mark Hughes brings in plenty of quality signings, they could really struggle. After all the praise Bobby Zamora got last season, he still only managed eight league goals in 26 appearances, the most any Fulham player managed.

Speculation surrounds their better players, including Schwarzer and Hangeland who are always linked with moves and if they were to lose any important players without replacing them, they could really struggle this season.



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