English Premiership

EPL new boys up for challenge

2014-08-13 10:26
Leicester City (Getty Images)
Leicester City (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Leicester City winger Marc Albrighton insists there is no reason for any of the promoted clubs to fear relegation from the Premier League.

For many years, the new arrivals in the top-flight were seen as whipping boys destined for an immediate return to the second tier -- and, with a few exceptions, most fared as badly as expected.

But there has been a distinct change in the attitudes of the teams who come up these days.

Emboldened by the £140 million cash injection that accompanies promotion, they are spending more freely on the players capable of delivering a knockout blow or two to the division's heavyweights.

Not since the 2007-08 season when Birmingham and Derby went straight back down has more than one promoted club failed to survive in their debut season.

And just last term both Crystal Palace and Hull thrived after promotion, with Hull qualifying for the Europa League after reaching the FA Cup final and Palace earning widespread praise for a late-season surge that carried them to a remarkable 11th place finish.

Leicester, back in the top-flight after a 10-year absence, have grand ambitions under owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha -- the Thai billionaire who has set boss Nigel Pearson a target of finishing in the top five within five seasons.

Pearson led the Foxes to the Championship title with 102 points and he has splashed out £8 million on Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa, while also bringing in Aston Villa's Albrighton, who thinks he knows the secret to survival.

"Some teams struggle but there are others like Swansea who come up and take the Premier League by storm and that's your inspiration," Albrighton said.

"Leicester won promotion as an attacking side and that will not change but you will come up against sides who will keep the ball and you need to keep your shape and maintain your concentration.

"You need to be picking up points against the teams in mid-table and in the bottom half because not only are you gaining points yourself you're taking them off your rivals."

Although QPR only secured promotion via a nerve-jangling play-off run that culminated with Bobby Zamora's late winner against Derby at Wembley, it is Harry Redknapp's team who look the best placed to beat the drop.

QPR's last appearance in the Premier League in 2012-13 ended miserably as a series of high-profile players were signed on big wages from overseas, creating a disastrous rift with their British team-mates once it became clear their performances weren't matching the size of their pay packets.

Redknapp and QPR's owner Tony Fernandes have focused on signing home-based players this time, with veteran central defender Rio Ferdinand and former Cardiff duo Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch the pick of the bunch.

"We are determined not to make those mistakes again," Redknapp said.

"We don't want people who are going to come here just for the money and not be interested in the club. We want people who genuinely want to come here and play and do well for us.

"You have to do your homework on people. If they are a t****r you find out don't you?"

Burnley's ability to last the pace in the automatic promotion race was surprising to many given they started last season rated as relegation candidates.

But Clarets boss Sean Dyche is confident the strong team-spirit and discipline which won promotion can make the difference again in their first Premier League campaign since 2009-10.

It would help if new signings Steven Reid, Matt Taylor and Michael Kightly bed in quickly, while Dyche needs Danny Ings to continue his free-scoring form.

"It's no different to last season," Dyche said. "We were written off, called the underdogs, sixth favourites for relegation, all the rest of it.

"But we're formulating a group. The group is powerful - I believe in it.

"We played some very good football and had some great times, so it can be done."


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