With the new Premier League season being so tantalizingly close, there are some teams that dream for the title and others who dream of Europe. However, often times, the teams that don’t have those lofty dreams may be the most interesting. As nothing matches the chaotic beauty and desperation of the relegation battle.

The Championship is, perhaps, the best second division side in the world and could rival some of  Europe’s top flights. Meaning that the teams that get promoted to the Prem are incredibly talented and could play in other first divisions in Europe.

Old Prem favorites Bournemouth and Fulham make their returns to the top flight after some time away. No longer with their iconic manager, Eddie Howe, Bournemouth had to grind out two seasons in the Championship to finally return to the promised land. Fulham, much like Norwich, are too good for the Championship, but aren’t good enough to stay long term in the Prem. 

Nottingham Forest is an interesting third promoted side, as while they haven’t been in the Prem since the 90s, they are a historic club. Boasting more Champions League titles than the likes of Atletico, PSG and Manchester City, Forest are a side with a winning history. After a more than 20 year absence from the top flight, this will surely be a season to remember for fans and players alike.

There could be arguments made for each club’s survival in the Prem, especially given the weaknesses of sides towards the bottom of the Prem. At the same time, it’s a monumental task to stay up in a league that devours itself like the Premier League.

A surprising staple of the English top flight during the mid to late 2010s, Bournemouth’s relegation was a shock to fans. The side, whose stability was built on the great work of manager Eddie Howe, ran out of magic in 2020 and were sent to the second division.

Photo: Imago Images

After Howe left the club following the promotion, the side spent their first season in the Championship languishing in the zone of good, but not good enough for promotion. Former Fulham manager Scott Parker was hired in 2021 to turn their fortunes around. Parker has, for the most part, by finding a spark in the offense while discovering gems in the defense.

Finally, after years of waiting, Dominic Solanke has finally shown that he can score at the professional level. The Chelsea product had spent most of his young career wasting away on the bench or failing in the Prem. Parker has found a way to slow the game down for him and allow him to be a clinical finisher that was never really asked of him at both Chelsea and Liverpool.

Bournemouth had a good but not great defense in their seasons in the Prem, however they were an elite defense in the Championship last season. Breakout keeper Mark Travers had a season to remember, winning the golden glove award in his first season as a starter. Youngster Lloyd Kelly formed a formidable center back pairing with Nathaniel Phillips to shore up the league’s best defense. 

The leg up that Bournemouth has on particularly Nottingham is the abundance of Premier League  experience and talent that they have on their roster. From Lewis Cook to Solanke, Parker’s side has players that know how to play in the top flight. One area that Bournemouth has had success in is winning relegation battles, unlike their counterparts, and this may be what saves them in the end. 

While it was a shock when Bournemouth went down, it feels like most believed that they would return to the Prem. With an experienced squad that has survived relegation battles in the past, it’s hard to feel negative about Bournemouth’s chances at survival. 

Fulham treat the second flight like they are playing FIFA on the easiest of difficulties. The London side score at will and concede very little.

In recent seasons, Fulham has abused Championship defenses only to be relegated right away the following season. Think of them as Norwich, but more fun with players who actually know how to score.

Is it fair to say that any chance of Fulham staying up will depend on Aleksandar Mitrović? Yes, without a doubt, as the Serbian striker dropped 43 goals in the second flight last season. Mitrović probably deserves to be playing for a more ambitious side, but when you can score for fun, why not?

While Fulham didn’t have the defense of Bournemouth,  they were still great with another breakout keeper, Marek Rodák, putting together a great season. When you can outscore your opponents at will, the defense may not be up to par, but Fulham’s defense still allowed the third lowest amount of goals. Tosin Adarabioyo led Fulham’s defense and will likely be attracting the eyes of England’s largest clubs in the near future.

Photo: Imago Images

The transfer window has been really impressive for Fulham, as they have brought in talented players who have experience in Europe’s top flights. Andreas Pereira escapes from Man United once more while FIFA legend Kevin Mbabu finally arrives in the Prem. However, at the end of the day, Fulham’s hopes will fall on the shoulders of Mitrović. 

Very much a boom or bust prospect, Fulham will either be a fun attacking team or Norwich 2.0 this season. Mitrović and the team’s ability to create for him will decide any success in the Prem.

The world was very different when Nottingham Forest last played in the Prem in 1999. Monumental shifts in every area of life from politics to technology occurred in this span, now Forest return to a top flight that is unrecognizable to those who watched the side in 1999.

Nottingham Forest weren’t automatically promoted like their counterparts, nor were they really a  favorite for promotion. The side finished fourth and was relegated to fighting for promotion in the playoffs. In a really remarkable run, Forest were able to secure a spot in the Prem in a final that will soon become a classic.

Much like their counterparts, Forrest had an elite offense paired with a superb defense, as the club was in the top three for goals scored and bottom three for goals allowed. Despite not having someone  challenge for the golden boot on their team, Forest was still  able to rally behind Brennan Johnson’s  16 goals. At the same time, Joe Worrall’s performances in the backline earned him plaudits.

Photo: BBC

In the transfer window, Forest has been busy with some quality signings ranging from exciting  prospects to players who can help the  club now. Jesse Lingard’s transfer is by far the most intriguing, as if he can replicate his form from West Ham a few seasons ago, he could really help the side. Dean Henderson and Omar Richards are both exciting prospects who can be given opportunities that they couldn’t get elsewhere.

Brentford will likely be the club who Forest will try to replicate the most, as both clubs entered the Prem with little experience. For Forest, Brentford has shown how to build a stable club that can spend within its limits and survive. Unlike Brentford, Forest has begun their transfer window with more ambition, but has made sure to find solid deals for certain players.

The romantic in everyone should hope that Forest stays up and provides magic to what  may be a boring title race. It is crazy to think that  the  club that just got promoted has more champions league titles than both Arsenal and City, which should make their matchups this season fun.

Predictions are a fool’s game, as the likelihood of being wrong on any given selection outweighs  the courage needed to make those predictions. However, one doesn’t  need to be invested in predictions to  enjoy the teams that  got promoted and their battle to stay up. While it never receives as much attention as the title race or race for Europe, there is something beautiful about the relegation battle.


Featured image: Reuters

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