English Premier League: 5 Favorites to Be Relegated This Season
With just over a week until the 2012-13 Premier League begins, many preseason predictions are starting to make the rounds.
With many previews focusing on the top of the league, this preview focuses on the bottom of the table.
Last season, another thrilling relegation race took place, and in the end Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton were sent down to the Championship.
With the promoted clubs getting continuously better each season, the three clubs coming up from the Championship are not guaranteed to be favorites to be sent back down to the second flight of English football.
With that being said, here are the five clubs who will most likely be at the bottom of the table fighting for survival this season.
Swansea City were a pleasant surprise last season, as they finished 11th in their first Premier League season.
During the summer, the Swans have experienced some tough losses, the most important one being the loss of former manager Brendan Rodgers, who left for Liverpool.
Chairman Huw Jenkins replaced Rodgers with former Danish international Michael Laudrup.
The new Swans manager was unsuccessful in his last two jobs at Spartak Moscow and Getafe, where he averaged a winning percentage of just 30 percent.
Laudrup has already brought in Spanish players Chico and Michu, as well as Canadian Jonathan de Guzman.
But those three players can not make up for the loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who went to Tottenham, and Joe Allen, if he makes his move to Liverpool to join Rodgers.
Nonetheless, Swansea still have a solid squad, but if they can not make up for the losses of two key players and a star manager, then they may be sent back to the Championship.
Southampton will be playing their first season in the Premier League since the 2004-05 season; however, it may be their only one back in the top flight.
Out of the three promoted clubs, the Saints look to be the weakest at the moment.
It is astounding what the club has done under manager Nigel Adkins, who has taken them from League One to the Premier League in two seasons, but the Saints do not have the talent required to stay in the top flight.
Instead of bringing in Premier League veterans with experience into the club this summer, Adkins has brought in players from the lower tiers of England, who are young and full of potential.
Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne, the two marquee signings so far this summer, are both very talented and will surely give Saints fans something to cheer about, but they lack experience.
In a league like the EPL, not many clubs are able to survive a season in the league with tons of top-flight experience, and that is the No. 1 concern about Southampton.
Wigan have been in the relegation battle for the past two seasons and have somehow stayed in the Premier League.
Once again, the Latics are favorites to be sent down to the Championship.
With Roberto Martinez still in charge and star player Hugo Rodallega now gone, the only realistic prediction for Wigan's season has to be relegation.
The Latics have done nothing to improve their squad last season and have actually become a worse team with the loss of Rodallega, who went to Fulham on a free transfer.
Martinez and his men proved the critics wrong last season and survived for one more year, and it looks like a third great escape will be the only thing keeping them from relegation.
After winning the Championship last season, Reading are in for a much tougher task this season in the Premier League.
The goal this season will be survival, and it will be difficult to attain.
The Royals have brought in EPL veterans like Nicky Shorey, Pavel Pogrebynak and Danny Guthrie to make their squad better heading into the season.
Also on the roster this season are former Blackburn forward Jason Roberts and former QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss.
The rest of the roster is made up of players who mostly have played in the lower levels of English football.
If they do succeed this season, look for manager Brian McDermott to leave the club, or possibly even during the season, as he is one of the fresh new faces in football management.
McDermott has the talent to manage this group and keep them up in the top flight, but if another club comes calling for him, it could mark the end of Reading's newest spell in the EPL.
Norwich are facing the same problem as Swansea. After a year of success, their manager has moved on to coach a bigger club.
Paul Lambert has moved to Aston Villa, and the Canaries have brought in Chris Hughton to manage the club.
Hughton has been a manager in the Premier League before, with Newcastle United, but never had a chance to fully prove himself, as he was sacked early on in the 2010-11 season.
This is Hughton's chance to prove he is a top-flight-caliber manager, but he will have to do it with a squad that overachieved and finished 12th last season.
The Canaries will avoid any chance of fighting to survive in the league if players like Grant Holt have another great season.
But if those players fail to succeed under Hughton and disappoint, it could be back down to the Championship for the East Anglia club.