Only twice in Premier League history have the three teams promoted from the Championship all survived their inaugural season in the top flight. The first was in 2001, when Fulham, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers all survived the drop after gaining promotion the previous year. Exactly ten years later, Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City managed to maintain their Premier League status in their first season on the up.
This year, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle Untied and Huddersfield Town are giving it a go at this improbable feat. On the face of it, the task did look uphill at the start of the season. Brighton and Huddersfield are making their first ever appearances in the Premier League, and the lack of experience was expected to be too much. Newcastle, on the other hand, are veterans at this level, and would have been the best bets to survive. In manager Rafa Benitez they have someone who had won the Champions League, so surely escaping relegation shouldn’t be too hard a task?
Solid starts all round
Seven weeks into the season, and each of these teams have made solid starts to their respective campaigns. None of them are in the relegation zone, with Newcastle placed 9th, Huddersfield 11th and Brighton 14th.
Their journeys thus far have been varied. The Magpies were 4th in the table only a couple of weeks earlier, and have shown quality worthy of the top-flight. Huddersfield started like a house on fire and occupied a Europa League place not too long ago, but two losses have pushed them down into the bottom half. Brighton, on the other hand, started pretty slowly despite qualifying as Championship winners last season. A win over Newcastle two weeks ago though, served as a real confidence booster and they are currently 3 points clear of the relegation places.
Usually, one team gets sucked to the bottom and stays there until the very end. This year, there are no signs of any of the new boys suffering that fate just yet. Teams like Crystal Palace, Swansea City, Bournemouth and Leicester City, who were in the Premier League last season, are currently looking more under threat of facing the drop. Very surprisingly, Everton and West Ham United are also hovering dangerously above the bottom three after extremely below-par starts to their respective campaigns.
The element of surprise that these three teams pose will soon be gone. It is very important that when this happens, they are able to find ways to pick up points at regular intervals. They won’t even realize when a losing streak starts, and before they know it, they’ll find themselves at the deep end of the fight to avoid the dreaded R.
Each of the new teams have passed the first hurdle by managing to get in some early points and stay away from the bottom three. The next assignment, until the new year, will be far trickier.
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