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Whilst a relegation preview seems a bit premature considering the unpredictability of the Premier League.

There can be few doubts as to who many would predict to be the main contenders, fighting for survival come March next year.

Premier League relegation battle preview 2016-17Those teams who managed the incredibly hard slog of promotion from the Championship will be most people’s front-runners for the drop along with some of the clingers on from last year.

Here, we’ll preview five clubs that I feel will be in and around those dreading three bottom places come the end of the season.

Burnley

Although they won the Championship last season in convincing style, Burnley will do well to avoid the chop this season. The step up from Championship to Premier League is tough, the gulf in class and money is astronomical, and Burnley haven’t made the most impressive of signings during the transfer window.

Jon Flanagan from Liverpool is probably their most high profile summer signing and that is on a season long loan, thus showing how hard it is to compete in the window without significant financial backing.

There is hope however and a few names in the squad suggest promise; Tom Heaton was taken to France with Roy Hodgson in the summer and although he didn’t play the experience will have buoyed his confidence. Sam Vokes is always dangerous when he gets a chance and with them likely to be few and far between, a man who can finish whenever will be a welcome addition.

Sean Dyche is also going to play an important part in keeping them up, his previous experience in the Premier League coupled with his tenacious attitude will be brilliant in the dressing room and if they can stay up on attitude alone, then he is going to be crucial.

Middlesbrough

Boro are a side who have shown what financial backing can do for a club making the step up. Massive marquee signings Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo are seemingly ridiculous for a club just being promoted but Middlesbrough are a club with great history in the Premier League and they will be hoping that this opportunity to become a mainstay in the league once more will be one that they can grasp with both hands.

Jordan Rhodes will be a brilliant partner for Negredo and they will certainly cause a lot of teams a problem this season, no matter who they face in defence. I can see Boro scoring a lot but this could backfire if they focus too heavily on attack and neglect the defence.

Aitor Karanka is a decent manager who is finding his feet in England and this will be his first taste of the Premier League. We have seen foreign managers thrive in recent years and there is no reason why he cannot mastermind a decent season for Middlesbrough this year.

Hull City

Hull are seemingly a club facing a bit of a crisis this summer break. Having lost Steve Bruce a couple of weeks ago, they are still without a manager and have done little in the transfer window to suggest that they will challenge anyone this season in the Premier League.

Their one point of optimism can perhaps come from the fact that they have only been out of the top flight for a short period of time and many of their squad have ample Premier League experience; Tom Huddlestone, Ahmed Elmohamady and Abel Hernandez have all played there before along with a host of other names. They will not feel overwhelmed by going to big grounds and this could hold them in good stead.

Another high point is their defence, Curtis Davies, Michael Dawson and Alex Bruce have all played in the Premier League before and could quite easily get into a lot of middle of the table squads today. They will be a tough nut to crack and nobody will go to the KCOM Stadium looking for an easy win. This stubbornness and perseverance could easily see them stay up this season although injury and a lack of decent strikers could also see them struggle.

Sunderland

The team who just avoided the drop last season have since lost their survival expert manager to the England set up and I think this alone is reason to nail them down for relegation this season. In the past few seasons they have struggled to stay up and managed it by the skin of their teeth, this season I feel will be a step too far.

They have done little of note in the transfer window and the appointment of David Moyes is unlikely to have been one to fill fans with confidence after his capitulation at Manchester United.

Whilst they obviously have players with Premier league experience, they failed to perform on too many occasions last season and there is little to suggest that anything will change this year. Jermain Defoe will get them goals as he always does but at the age of 33, it is unreasonable to expect him to score enough to keep them up.

Watford

Finally, I am predicting the Hornets to have a tough season this year. Whilst they were a breath of fresh air in the first half of last season, with Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney terrifying defences all over the country, they faltered towards the end and were certainly a team on relegation form come May.

They are another team that has found it difficult to do anything miraculous in the transfer window and if they are to carry on in the style that they did at the end of last season then they will definitely be in and around the drop zone this season.

The hope will be however that Ighalo and Deeney can rekindle their terrifying partnership and fire them towards a mid-table finish. They also have to deal with the loss of Quique Sanchez Flores and although Walter Mazzarri is a big name in management the first season for a new manager is usually the hardest and with a squad lacking quality in depth he may find this exceedingly tough.

Watford however are my outsiders for relegation and if forced to predict the bottom three at the end of the season I would probably go for Burnley, Sunderland and Hull simply due to the fact that Middlesbrough have had such a brilliant transfer window whilst the other clubs have struggled to add any quality names to their books.

Originally published at oneshotfootball.com

Post written by Joshua Rowe
for One Shot Football, Blog: One Shot Football, Twitter: @O_S_Football

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