Bottom by September – big-spending Villa and misfiring Magpies in early trouble
Superb Premier League starts for Norwich City and Sheffield United could leave big-spending Aston Villa bottom of the pile by the end of the month.
The three promoted clubs took different approaches to their Premier League returns with Villa spending heavily on foreign talent to boost their chances of beating the drop.
But Dean Smith’s side have nothing to show from their opening two games and, with fixtures against Everton and Crystal Palace to come, could remain pointless heading into the first international break.
Signings from overseas often take time to come good, but Villa can ill-afford to let any more points slip away as the Premier League can be very unforgiving.
Fulham, who Villa’s summer spending spree saw them harshly compared to, picked up four points from their first four matches of last season.
But there were problems behind the scenes at Craven Cottage that only really emerged during a run of six straight league defeats between September and November.
Villa get a chance to put points on the board on Friday when they entertain Everton, but Marco Silva’s side have kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 and will be a tough nut to crack.
Their away trip to Selhurst Park at the end of the month, however, looks winnable with Palace also looking like they could be the basement club after four games.
Roy Hodgson’s men have one point but will feel Sunday’s loss at Bramall Lane was a chance missed to add more – and dent the confidence of a likely relegation rival.
But with Wilfried Zaha increasingly likely to stay an Eagle for the next few months at least, they remain long odds to finish the campaign in 20th place.
Palace outright odds:
Bottom half finish = 1/5
(odds via Betfair 18+)
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) August 18, 2019
The team that looks in the most trouble right now is Newcastle United with new manager Steve Bruce struggling to turn the Magpies into a cohesive force.
Money was spent after Rafa Benitez’s departure, but the doom merchants are out in force again after back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and Norwich.
Newcastle’s next two matches are away at Tottenham and at home to Watford with the latter increasingly looking like a must-win for both teams.
The Hornets were better against Everton than in their shock 3-0 home defeat to Brighton first up, but still have some way to go to find the levels they did under Javi Gracia last season.