How have Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth adjusted to life in the Premier League?
It’s rare that a team will gain promotion from the Championship to England’s top division and automatically adjust to life with the world’s best in the Premier League. It was back in the 2011/12 Premier League season the last time all of the three previously promoted sides from the Championship the season before managed to all avoid relegation and from the start of this seasons campaign all Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth are on track to do so, however is it too early to say whether the trio will all avoid relegation? Definitely.
All three of the clubs have made progressive starts so far with none of them in the dreaded relegation zone at this early stage in the season, although there is still an overwhelming period of time left in which everything could change, the start we’ve seen from the new Premier League side’s has been encouraging for their fans, and worrying for the teams who are likely to be within the relegation battle come May.
Bournemouth have been the most impressive in their debut Premier League campaign, after storming their way through the Championship, many predicted their squad would be too weak against established Premier League opposition, many were proven wrong. A slip up in the opening fixture against a developing Aston Villa side saw no sense of optimism ahead of the clash against Liverpool at Anfield, however Bournemouth were unlucky, they deserved at least a point on the road against Liverpool in a narrow 1-0 defeat, and this is where they showed they could compete this year.
The Cherries finally opened up their goal scoring tally in their third encounter in a thrilling tie against West Ham in which the young Englishman Callum Wilson who netted 20 times last season for Bournemouth scored a remarkable hat-trick to inspire Bournemouth to a 4-3 victory. After tough-fought ties against Villa and Liverpool and finally a win against the Hammers, the Cherries have shown the class they have in their side have transformed and clearly have raised their game to the Premier League standard.
They followed up the West Ham victory with a draw against high-flying Leicester City who look a complete new team at this point in the season, Bournemouth have created a good balance throughout their squad, combining both youth and experience. They now need to make Dean Court a fortress in which other clubs fear when they visit the stadium which only holds just over 11,000 supporters.
With the transfer window done and dusted now, manager Eddie Howe stole some great signings which will help to establish Bournemouth, especially in their attack, introducing Ivorian Max Gradel along with Glenn Murray in the final hours of transfer deadline day. Murray will certainly bolster their attack and the man who scored 44 goals for Crystal Palace in 112 games could create a special partnership with Wilson. For Bournemouth they look the most established side and have fitted best into Premier League life and from what the early season form has shown, it seems as though Bournemouth are going to pull off a super season and could easily steer clear of any relegation battle.
Norwich have had an average start in their awaited return to Premier League football, after their last spells in the league ended appallingly they will be hoping for a miracle and a season free of relegation, have they started as though this can be achieved though? It’s certainly too early to say for the Canaries, they don’t quite seem up to par compared with Bournemouth.
They have played exceptional in the 3-1 visit to the Stadium of Light when they beat Sunderland and also in the 1-1 draw against Stoke City in which they clearly deserved more out of the game. However, their squad hasn’t seen many changes since their promotion from the Championship. In fact, around half their squad that they have now is the same which suffered relegation from the Premier League a couple of seasons back. After allowing one of their most experienced midfielders in Bradley Johnson move to Derby on deadline day, many questions were asked by the Norwich City fans, what did the club do in response? Signed two loanee’s, a Dinamo Kiev forward and also Matt Jarvis who proved a key asset for Wolverhampton Wanderers when they had a couple of seasons fighting for Premier League survival, but in his time at West Ham has only managed to net four goals in 78 appearences, not the ideal signings the fans would’ve hoped for.
The opening day 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace could be writ-off after Palace have had an excellent transfer window and finished the previous campaign in great form. However, their most recent result in a 3-0 loss away at Southampton potentially has shown Norwich’s true colours and what we can expect for a large majority of the campaign ahead, Southampton had been on the rocks, leaking ?in goals, not making Europa League group stages, but they walked all over this unexperienced Norwich side.
Norwich are already dependent upon other results to keep themselves out of the danger zone, their average start has seen them settle into fourteenth place, but that could soon deteriorate, if Norwich were going to make a real impression this season they would’ve produced much more established transfers in the window after their sensational amount of money they earned after winning the Play-Offs last season.
Finally, Watford, still yet to win a game, but they don’t look bad at all. Three draws and a loss is acceptable, the loss was most recent to Manchester City who have already stormed into first place in the Premier League and mean business this season. In their three draws they managed to keep clean sheets against both West Bromwich Albion and Southampton. The opening day game saw them steal a point in a thrilling match against Everton in a 2-2 draw.
Watford’s first team line-up hasn’t changed massively either similarly to Norwich, but they do look a settled squad, their defence has been in form, it’s just a lack of goals which has seen them only manage to pick up one point from three games and are still without a win, but this could all be different. They’ve signed Victor Ibarbo on loan for the season from Cagliari, Ibarbo was rumoured to be one of the transfers of the season last year when he joined Roma on loan, and however he couldn’t breach the first team line-up and didn’t get his rightful opportunity. Now in the Premier League, this could be a chance for the Colombian to prove his value, his pace is electrifying and will certainly cause danger to the opposition defences. If Ibarbo can get amongst the goals along with Troy Deeney who netted 21 league goals last year and his prolific partner Odion Ighalo who scored 20, then Watford’s attack will be convincing and we could see a regular goal supply.
It’s hard to predict what sort of form Watford are going to show throughout the season, they clearly have the potential up front, it’s just whether they can utilise it against some of the best defenders in Europe and the world, after an average start they could easily blossom into a solid side, however it could easily sway negatively for the Hornets.
Out of all three sides promoted to the Premier League last season, Bournemouth have evidently maintained the strongest squad, they have a good defence and their attack force just bounce of each other which is why Bournemouth shouldn’t find it any real struggle at all this season to avoid relegation. Norwich and Watford on the other hand could find it a greater task to avoid relegation, both have weaker squads, haven’t shown any Premier League style class yet and aren’t making the most of games they could pick up points in, it’s too early to call whether relegation will loom, but nevertheless the three sides have adapted well enough to see all three breaching the relegation line, for now.
Featured imaged: All rights reserved by Pittaya Srollong
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