With Liverpool's newly minted and terrifying schedule still hot off the press, I thought I'd take a closer look at some of the teams we will be facing. And who better to start this process than the newest members of the Premier League, those adorable little scamps from the Championship: AFC Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich City.
Adjusting to Premier League life can be difficult for newly promoted squads. In fact, of the 65 teams promoted since the inaugural Premier League season, 29 of them—or 45 percent—were immediately sent back down to the Championship to think about what they've done. That was bad football, QPR, very bad football! Only twice have all three promoted teams stayed afloat the following season (in 2001-02, and 2011-12). Conversely the reverse scenario has only happened once, with all three teams being relegated following the 1997-98 season.
Some teams consider relegation little more than a minor inconvenience. Crystal Palace has been promoted and relegated four times, and Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion have been promoted four times and relegated three. Though, with successive finishes of 17th and 16th place, Sunderland are really pushing their luck.
First on our list are the Championship title holders, AFC Bournemouth. This season will mark their Premier League debut. In fact, despite being around in some form or another since 1890, this will be their first ever top-flight campaign. The "Cherries" have been in the ascendancy over the past several years. After surviving administration and nearly being relegated from the Football League in the 2008-09 season, they've steadily climbed their way up through the top four tiers of English football.
Bournemouth have always worn red, but adopted their black and red stripes in the early 70's to emulate A.C. Milan, and have kept them since. Fun fact, their crest features a man heading a ball, but it's not just some design picked out of Clip Art; it is intended to be the likeness of club legend Dickie Dowsett.
Liverpool host Bournemouth in their home opener on August 15th. The Reds travel to Goldsands Stadium April 16th.
Watford, who despite having a
moose type of deer called a Hart on their crest, are commonly called The Hornets because of their flashy yellow and black kits. They've enjoyed two very brief stints in the Premier League, in 1999-2000, and again in 2006-07. In both recent top flight campaigns they finished dead last. Watford is also notable for giving Brendan Rodgers his first managing gig in 2008-09. In his one and only year with the club, Rodgers struggled at first, winning only two of his first ten league matches, before leading the team to a comfortable mid-table finish. And to all you #BROUT folk, you're welcome.
Founded in 1881, Watford certainly have a long history, but not a particularly successful one. During their first stint in the top flight in the early 80's, the Hornets managed to finish runner-up in the 1982-83 season, and lost to Everton in the FA Cup final the subsequent season.
The team was formally owned by piano rock legend Elton John, who remains involved with the club despite new ownership.
Assuming Rodgers is still around as we approach Christmas, he and the Redmen will travel to Vicarage Road "The Vic" to take on his former team on December 19th. Anfield will play host to Watford on the second-to-last match of the season on May 7th.
Ah, the "Canaries." What will their season be without Luis Suarez to terrorize them? Of the three, Norwich City have had the most success, and after only one year out of the top flight, probably need the least introduction. This is their third promotion to the Premier League, although they have yet to last longer than three seasons up top since 1992. Norwich nearly won the inaugural Premier League season, but stumbled down the stretch, handing the title to Manchester United and finishing third. They have yet to match those heights since. The Canaries have reached the FA Cup semi-finals three times, and won the League Cup twice. They also play for the "Friendship Trophy" whenever they face Sunderland, which seems like a nice thing for two randomly associated squads to do.
Liverpool host the Canaries on September 19th, and make the trip to Carrow Road January 23rd. Coincidentally, both matches occur after our clashes with Manchester United.
With newly promoted clubs, it's nearly impossible to say whether they'll sink or swim coming into the season. As QPR proved this season, recent experience in the Premier League is in no way an adequate safe-guard against future failure. Often, external factors, such as the failure of established Premier League clubs to improve, are more influential than anything else.