Bourne for this

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-7 5:03:03

Will the Cherries survive the Premier League?

Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings controls the ball in their 3-0 friendly win over Yeovil Town on July 28 in Yeovil, England. Photo: IC

If the Premier League table finishes as it starts then it will be an improved season for the clubs promoted from the Championship. Bournemouth would finish third to enter the Champions League, Norwich City would comfortably retain their status in the English top flight and poor Watford would fall victim to the drop in the final relegation spot.

There are 114 points to play for before that dreaded day and the omens bode well.

Since the Premier League came into existence there have been 65 sides promoted from the second tier and only 29 of those have been ­immediately relegated. That equates to a 44 percent chance of the drop. In just 13 of the 23 seasons since the Premier League began, only one of the promoted teams has managed to survive, like last season when only Leicester City were safe after the final whistle of the final game. Not since the 1997-98 season have all three promoted teams been ­relegated. The odds may indeed be good but that's no guarantee of survival.

Assuming each team that makes it to the top table has a slightly better than 50 percent chance of staying there at the end of their first season, which of the class of 2015-16 is most likely to be successful?

Media favorites

As it stands, only the ­newest of Premier League new boys, ­debutants Bournemouth, are ­fancied by the press to succeed where so many others have failed before them and remain one of the top 20 teams in England after the 38 games of the 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

Eddie Howe's side have been granted a good run of games to adjust to their first foray into the top flight. Their first six games begin with Aston Villa at Dean Court on the opening day before trips to ­Liverpool and West Ham, followed by a run of Leicester City, Norwich City and Sunderland. The Liverpool game looks ­daunting based on ­reputation but not on the evidence of Crystal Palace's victory at the tail end of last season. The rest of the opening fixtures will give Bournemouth hope and could result in the type of run that staves off relegation early doors and sees them closer to the top than the bottom come the nights drawing in.

Much has been made of the swashbuckling scoring rates that the Cherries racked up in their Championship title win but that's not the whole story of how Howe has them going about their business. The English manager bases his Bournemouth team's game on possession but a stat that has been oft overlooked is the fact that Bournemouth conceded the second-least number of goals over 46 games.

New recruits

Bournemouth have sensibly strengthened their squad in all areas going into this season with a blend of top-flight experience, youth and players hungry to prove themselves at this level. Howe has added two experienced goalkeepers in Artur Boruc and Adam Federici plus seasoned Premier League central defender Sylvain Distin after his release by Everton. They have also secured the exciting winger Max Gradel from St Etienne, former Manchester United starlet and Norway international striker Joshua King from Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough's Lee Tomlin, a forward who has worked his way up from non-league soccer.

The biggest new recruit may well be the impressive fullback Tyrone Mings from ­Ipswich Town. He was linked with a move to Arsenal, but became a Cherry for a club record 8 million pounds ($12.5 million) this summer. Most importantly, perhaps, is committing last season's top scorer Callum Wilson to a new four-year contract. Much might be expected of him after the success of newly promoted Charlie Austin and Danny Ings in last season's Premier League.

Not wanting to be left out of the bizarre loan world that predominates the Premier League, Bournemouth have tempted Chelsea's Christian Atsu for the season. The Ghanaian midfielder impressed in his few appearances on loan at Everton last season and hopes are high in Bournemouth.

Much will depend on their new signings gelling, of which there is no guarantee, but they have given themselves more than a fighting chance. Dean Court will not be an easy ground for the pampered stars of the Premier League to visit. A capacity of under 12,000 means that it's going to be a vociferous home crowd every week.

The Cherries, as champions, appear the pick of the new arrivals on soccer terms but they have also already won the heart of the neutral. It's just seven years since the club nearly slipped out of the Football League entirely and their rise has been truly remarkable. Staying up will be their greatest success and they have given themselves every chance but they'd take 50/50 right now, let alone finishing third behind Arsenal and Aston Villa. They will have a much better idea of what lies ahead at quarter to five on Saturday.

Posted in: Feature, Soccer

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