Relegation candidates already identified
However, none has made a flying start like Hull City did last season, so it looks like a long slog for survival for Burnley, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The matches between promoted Championship teams are always vital to the relegation battle, with Burnley and Birmingham the first to meet, on October 3rd.
Wolves host Portsmouth, currently rock bottom, on the same day. Predicting the established teams that will get drawn into a relegation scrap is not always easy – Newcastle United and Middlesbrough were not widely expected to struggle so much last season – but the plight of Pompey was perhaps easy to see coming.
The South coast outfit’s fortunes have plummeted since Harry Redknapp left last October. Paul Hart did a good job of steering the club to safety after the disastrous tenure of Tony Adams, but there has been little stability since.
Star players such as Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson have left and not been properly replaced, whilst the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club has not helped. Portsmouth need to pick up points quickly and whilst it is too early to call the trip to Molineux a must-win match, they cannot afford to be cut adrift at the bottom so prematurely.
Everton are the only team that is a surprise to see down the bottom and they should recover now the Joleon Lescott saga is behind them. David Moyes has bought well and forthcoming matches against Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth and Stoke City should see the Toffees move up to mid-table and increase their Premiership betting odds.