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Can Promoted Trio Survive in the 2019/20 Premier League?

What chances do the three promoted clubs have of avoiding relegation? We take a look at how Aston Villa, Norwich and Sheffield United will get on

Aston Villa’s 2-1 victory in Monday’s Championship promotion playoff final confirmed the identity of the three teams that have escaped the wilderness, and sailed triumphantly to the Promised Land.

However, the euphoria of promotion is always short-lived, and reality first bites on the day that the fixture list is released in mid-June. With that in mind, what chances do the three promoted clubs have of avoiding relegation?

Playoff victory – Priceless Redemption or Poisoned Chalice?

With four of the last five seasons seeing the Championship playoff winners drop straight down immediately, Aston Villa are seen as particularly vulnerable to the drop. However, the gamble of using ‘parachute’ money from 2015/16’s relegation to bring in good players has paid off at last.

With the prize money for a won playoff final at an all-time high, the Birmingham club’s first order of business must be to give Jack Grealish a much-improved contract. Grealish’s links to Tottenham and Manchester United’s persistence will have any Villa fan worried, and those who saw the strong late-2000s team gradually dismantled will testify, there is no smoke without fire.

In tying Grealish to claret and blue colours, Villa will lay an early foundation for a successful survival campaign. However, some more seasoned Premier League veterans undoubtedly need to be by his side throughout the upcoming campaign.

In that regard, a couple of Villa alumni may be tempted to return to the club for the right package.

James Milner, for instance, is not necessarily an unrealistic target. While he still does much for Liverpool, Milner is now the wrong side of thirty, and there are no guarantees that he can just as effective for Liverpool in 2019/20.

In a ruthless spectacle like the Premier League, fortune favours the ambitious. There can be no doubt that 2019/20 will demand superlative bravery and determination from Villa, if they are to avoid the drop.

Complacency not an Option for Automatic Movers

Promoted via the runners-up spot, Sheffield United return after a twelve-year absence from the Premier League.

The speed at which the Blades have cut through two divisions is phenomenal, but it also provides some of the reasoning behind their standing as odds-on favourites to drop on

There is an ever-present sense that the club is not quite ready for the task ahead, but by contrast, Championship winner’s Norwich spent four seasons in the Premier League earlier this decade.

The Canaries still have residual resources left over from the club’s top-flight relegation of 2016, and several players already in place, such as Onel Hernandez and Mario Vrancic, with the attacking instinct that could seal survival.

Yet, while one of the 2018/19 Championship’s top-two seems so much better-equipped to stay up, both clubs need fresh talent in the final third.

Firing on all cylinders for Norwich and Sheffield United respectively, Championship top-scorer Teemu Pukki and Billy Sharp will find the Premier League utterly ruthless. Now aged 33, the latter man will find it particularly uncompromising.

Both men have every right to be considered game for a starting XI berth against the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, but support strikers or wide attackers with Premier League experience are a must to back them up.

Who else Could Struggle?

As the lowest-ranked surviving club of 2018/19, Brighton appear vulnerable. Graham Potter is now at the helm, but there are real doubts over his ability to keep the Seagulls in the Premier League, given that he has no managerial experience in the top-flight.

Overall though, no team in the bottom half of the 2018/19 table truly covered itself in glory, and the likes of Burnley, Southampton and Bournemouth also fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category if they fail to ward off the bigger clubs chasing their top talents.

Investment: The Double-Edged Sword

Ultimately, whether a team is newly-promoted or a bare survivor of the previous campaign, investment is the key to survival. However, that itself has yielded mixed results, and this was certainly in evidence last season.

Wolves did a lot of squad building and managed to finish seventh, and qualify for a first European campaign in a generation. Given their additional Europa League duties, Wolves will likely struggle to replicate that in 2019/20, but the squad appears well-equipped to become a Premier League mainstay after shrewd investment into new talent.

Fulham, meanwhile, embarked on a very real spending spree over the summer of 2018. The London club’s expenditure thoroughly eclipsed even that of some established Premier League sides. However, none of the signings – least of all the bank-breaking record signing Jean-Michael Seri – made the expected impact, and the Cottagers were down by mid-April.

The key to survival seems to be a healthy mix of the familiar and the new. Spending sprees are not a guarantee of success, and Fulham are likely to struggle to balance the books over the next few years, even with generous parachute payments coming their way.

A Good Opportunity Tarnished by History

In 24 out of 27 Premier League seasons, at least one team has fallen through the relegation trapdoor.

Even more significantly, practically every team that has ever been promoted to the top flight in the Premier League era has ended up relegated at some point. Bournemouth and Brighton stand as the only exceptions to this trend.

Yet, with relatively little to separate the bottom-half survivors of last season, 2019/20 is a prime opportunity for the three promoted clubs.

That is particularly true in the case of Norwich and Aston Villa, with both clubs boasting some recent Premier League pedigree to draw upon.

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