Early warning signs for relegation candidates

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Rafa Benitez

While the Premier League pauses for the international break, let’s assess which teams are already looking like relegation candidates.

Most people start with the three promoted teams when looking to predict who will go down come May, but Huddersfield Town – who finished behind both Newcastle and Brighton in the Championship last season – have so far made a mockery of summer claims that they will not be able to handle the top flight.

The Terriers (7/4 – To Be Relegated) have enjoyed a dream start. Seven points from a possible nine is beyond the expectations of even the most ardent Town fans and the fact they’ve done it in some style reinforces the Yorkshire club’s ambitious belief that they will be able to hang around in elite company for years to come.

No-one should get carried away, of course, in the first days of September but with the impressive David Wagner in charge, they’ve made the sort of start that can truly lay the foundations for a successful season – which would mean them finishing 17th or higher.

On the other side of the coin, however, are Brighton. The Seagulls’ early-season form has been ominously poor for the campaign ahead and it would be a big shock if they’re not in a relegation scrap between now and next spring. They are currently favourites at 20/23 to go down.

Newcastle (7/2) have also had a difficult start but following two fairly dismal defeats, they showed signs there’s better to come with a much-improved 3-0 win over West Ham last time out.

Boss Rafa Benitez is unhappy with the club’s transfer policy (or lack of it) and could even jump ship – especially if the Hammers come calling – so expect a roller-coaster season from the Magpies that many believe will end up with them fighting another relegation battle – probably in vain.

Thereafter, it could be that up to eight other teams will be looking over their shoulders for much of the campaign. The aforementioned Hammers and Crystal Palace (8/5) have made such poor starts that they must be included in a long list of early relegation candidates while Burnley (7/5) and Bournemouth (2/1) know they still have much to do to prove themselves in the top flight.

It’s envisaged that the eventual three who drop down will come from teams already mentioned although the likes of Swansea (2/1), Stoke, West Brom (both 8/1) and Southampton (33/1) – cannot take anything for granted in what is shaping up to be another extremely competitive Premier League survival battle.

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