Fulham, Bournemouth & Nottingham Forest – the Premier League’s three promoted clubs. But who will finish top? All three have bags of Premier League experience, but time will tell us who can use that experience to evade the drop back down. Fulham are the typical see-saw club, bouncing between the two divisions every season since promotion to the top-flight in 2018. Bournemouth have also spent time in the Premier League most recently, surviving 5 seasons in the top division before relegation in 2020. On the other hand, Forest have now spent 23 years away from the top and will want to reignite their historic club to its former glory.
Fulham @ 6/5
Although Fulham have typically been too good for the Championship, and not good enough for the Premier League, I can’t see them dropping back down this season. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s record-breaking season with 43 goals in 44 league games is outrageous, breaking the record of a measly 31 by Ivan Toney in the previous season. Last time the Serb played in the Premier League his goal-scoring was nothing special, with just 3 goals in 27 games, but he has reached new heights as he reaches his potential at the age of 27. I can see the number 9 breaking double digits this season to help Fulham to a strong campaign
The Cottagers have been smart in the transfer window, bringing in experienced talents in right-back Kevin Mbabu from Wolfsburg, defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha and former Manchester United attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira. Improving that central spine in midfield should allow for added defensive stability against much stronger opposition, as well as the creativity to bring Mitrovic to the forefront. The Lilywhites have also managed to retain the services of all their starters, and will surely be aiming to not just stay up but break into the top half of the division.
Manager Marco Silva has much-needed experience in the Premier League – albeit with mixed results. Spells at Premier League outfits Hull, Watford and Everton showed that Silva can be an innovative, organised and attacking coach, however showed regular glimpses of inconsistency. Relegation with Hull, Everton in the relegation zone and Watford’s poor form led to Silva’s dismissal from the sides, so he will have a point to prove that his thorough attention to detail and tactical intelligence still cuts it at the top level.
Nottingham Forest @ 11/8
Forest are a side brimming with historical success in England and Europe. One of only four English clubs to have won the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) more than once, and one of only two English clubs to have won the European Cup back-to-back. Nottingham Forest will have their site set on restoring their club as one of the best English clubs in history.
However, Forest are far from experienced in this division in recent times and I fear their fairytale return to the top-flight will be masked by their fight to avoid relegation. Steve Cooper has a mammoth task of getting all their new acquisitions to gel before the season starts. A completely brand new defense consisting of Moussa Niakhaté, Giulian Biancone, Neco Williams and Omar Richards have their work cut out if they’re to be able to develop a Premier League-standard roadblock to protect new goalkeeper Dean Henderson. If the Reds can defend against the best, they then have to hope that former Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard can find his form to supply Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored 15 in 31 for Union Berlin last season.
Although Forest’s recruitment team have been incredibly busy, I can’t see the team gelling quick enough with preseason coming to an end all too soon for them. Their preseason results are nothing to shout about, with just 2 wins from 7 against teams mostly below Premier League calibre. They may well come to regret their lavish spending and lack of faith in the squad that got them promoted, although the parachute payments on their way back down will help buffer the impact.
Bournemouth @ 10/3
My favourites to go straight back down. The Cherries have taken the opposite strategy to that of Nottingham Forest. They are yet to spend a penny, only bringing in Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell on free transfers from West Ham and Blackburn Rovers respectively. The question remains, does the team that earned them promotion have what it takes to stay up? I don’t think so.
Bournemouth are putting full faith in former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke, who scored 29 goals in the Championship last season. Although a respectable total, I don’t see that translating into double figures in the top division, especially given no creative additions in the transfer window. They will hope that Danish midfielder, Phillip Billing can continue his hot run of form where he contributed double figures for goals and assists last season (10 and 11 respectively).
Former Fulham manager, Scott Parker has his work cut out to avoid a repeat of his managerial spell at the club he played for. After earning promotion in his first year at the club, he then was dismissed after getting relegated the following season. I have a feeling that history will repeat itself, as I think his inexperience managing in the top division will hurt his new club.
Although the odds already suggest it, I can only see the Lilywhites coming out on top in this battle and they’re the ones I’d recommend to back. They have the most experienced manager, a strong squad who have played together, some exciting new additions and Aleksandar Mitrovic. I’d also put Forest up there if Steve Cooper can bring that new-look team to life. On Bournemouth, I think they’ll struggle to stay up.