Strange things are happening at St James’ Park, namely the fact that Newcastle United’s best players are steadily leaving during the course of 2011. Andy Carroll left for Liverpool in January, with Kevin Nolan signing for West Ham this summer.
With rumours surrounding the future of Jose Enrique and Joey Barton, it is little wonder that the Magpies are being backed on the Premier League relegation market, with Blue Square offering a best price 7/1 about the north-east side returning to the Championship.
Newcastle don’t appear too interested in re-investing the £35 million received from Liverpool for Carroll and the natives are getting restless after captain Nolan was allowed to leave St James’ Park because there was a belief that he couldn’t maintain a high standard for the next three seasons!
Even so, at least half the division could get sucked into a relegation dogfight this season and it is no surprise to see the three promoted teams at the head of the market. Swansea City were promoted through the play-offs and Brendan Rodgers’ team are 4/7 (Ladbrokes) to make their stay in the Premier League a short one.
Norwich City (8/11 bet365 – £200 free betting) are a similar price and manager Paul Lambert will have to curb the Canaries’ free-flowing style for many games, even if Blackpool came close to surviving last year by attacking every team that they played. It will be interesting to see whether the likes of Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson can make the same impact that they did at Championship level.
Queens Park Rangers are probably the pick of the bunch when it comes to backing a Premier League new boy to last just one season. While Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone are shareholders at Loftus Road, they don’t seem interested in big investment and the only piece of good news for Rangers fans is that Adel Taarabt is set to stay in west London. Even so, 7/4 with Ladbrokes (£30 free bet) about them going down seems too big.
Then we have a cluster of teams that struggled last term and that includes Wigan Athletic (2/1 Coral) who have been weakened further after Aston Villa’s £9.5 million bid for Charles N’Zogbia was accepted. The Frenchman probably made all the difference between the club staying up and going down last term and the Latics are set to struggle again.
Wolverhampton Wanderers were in the bottom three on the final day of the season before scoring twice against Blackburn to rescue themselves, although the Midlands side are sure to trade lower than the 11/4 with Coral, while Blackburn Rovers (4/1 Coral) have not brought too much quality in and have lost Phil Jones to Manchester United.
West Brom (9/2 William Hill) may well prosper under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, with Bolton Wanderers (7/1 Victor Chandler) and Stoke City (10/1 Paddy Power – £100 free bets) fast becoming permanent fixtures in the Premier League.