The gulf between England’s top two divisions isn’t as great as what it once was. In recent seasons, the Championship has become hugely competitive; newly-promoted teams cementing their place in the Premier League. Brighton & Hove Albion and Bournemouth before their recent relegation, are just two examples. But in the Premier League era, there’s one very interesting fact. Only three times have newly-promoted sides from the second tier all avoided relegation in the same season.
The most recent case of this was in 2017-8, when Brighton – as well as Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United – all secured a place in the top flight for another year.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s been just one campaign that has seen all three promoted clubs relegated after a short stay in the Premier League; Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Crystal Palace dropping back down from where they came in the 1997-8 season. With that in mind, how have this season’s newly-promoted sides started. And how will they fare throughout the course of the season?
Last season’s champions of the second tier, Leeds are having decent start to life back in the top flight after 16 seasons away. Two wins and a draw from their opening five matches means Marcelo Bielsa’s side are best-placed to avoid the drop in the latest English Premier League odds from Paddy Power.
After so nearly holding the current Premier League champions Liverpool to a draw in the opening weekend of the season, Leeds beat Fulham and Sheffield United. And, earlier this month, they snatched a point from Manchester City.
As we have seen so far, Bielsa has his side set up to attack at will; the full-backs pushing forward at any opportunity. Leeds look to dominate possession, with plenty of short passes. And that was seen most recently in their defeat to Wolves, where they had the ball 68% of the time. There’s no doubt they are adapting to life in the Premier League well; a mid-table finish well be on the cards.
West Bromwich Albion
After two seasons in the Championship, West Brom returned to the top flight; finishing as runners-up last campaign. It hasn’t been the greatest of starts for the newly-promoted West Midlands club, who have failed to win any of their opening matches; picking up just two points, with draws against Chelsea and Burnley.
They so nearly managed that elusive first victory against the former, But they threw away a three-goal lead; Tammy Abraham equalising for Chelsea in the 93rd minute. But defence appears to be an issue, with the Baggies conceding 13 goals so far – the joint-highest with Liverpool.
Slaven Bilić has experience of playing and managing in the Premier League. In his time at West Ham, the Croat secured European football by finishing 7th. While the campaign is a marathon and not a sprint, Bilić has what it takes to turn around the slump that West Brom are currently in. Wins against Brighton and Fulham in their next two games will propel them up the table.
A classic yo-yo club, Fulham flitted between the top two divisions for the last four seasons. Both of their promotions to the Premier League came by way of winning the play-offs. Much like West Brom, the Cottagers have yet to win a game this season, and sit bottom of the table. In fact, they picked up their only point on their last outing; a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United.
Having famously spent big (£100m) last time they competed in the top flight (and it remarkably back-firing), Fulham were relegated that following season. They’ve been a lot more frugal this time. While manager Scott Parker has turned around the club’s fortunes and united the dressing room, there’s still a long way to go to get them challenging.
In the 2018-9 season, Fulham only won once in 12 matches; having just 11 points at the halfway stage of the season. To avoid a repeat of a campaign that ultimately saw them relegated with five games remaining, they’ll need to start picking up points. Otherwise, it’s going to be another long and arduous campaign for the southwest Londoners.