Part four of this season review looks at the sides that avoided a relegation battle. Watford and Crystal Palace started the season strongly before falling away, whilst Tony Pulis delivered what he does with West Brom. Bournemouth’s first season in the Premier League saw them avoid the relegation scrap in a fantastic season for them.
Watford – Final Position: 13th – Prediction: 19th
It was a season of two halves for Watford, who started very strongly. Going in to the new year they were still in the hunt for the European places, but their form fell off drastically as they dropped down to 13th. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo both hit double figures, but other than that there were very few goalscorers. Many will see Quique Sanchez Flores’ dismissal as harsh, as the newly promoted team established themselves in the Premier League without having to worry about relegation. However, you have to trust the Watford owners here, as Flores himself was brought in on the back of Slavisa Jokanovic guiding them to promotion. A 4-2 loss to relegated Norwich has to be one of the lowlights for Watford, but the 3-0 humbling of Liverpool will live long in the memory.
West Brom – Final Position: 14th – Prediction: 13th
West Brom’s season can be described in one word: Pulis. The Baggies averaged less than a goal a game as they scraped and drew their way to comfortable finish. Despite only finishing six points clear of the drop, West Brom never looked likely to go down. No player in the squad reached double figures in the league, a real sign of their lack of adventure going forward. One of the moments to forget for West Brom fans will be Saido Berahino’s two penalty misses in the 1-0 loss to Watford, but the wins at home to Arsenal and Manchester United stood out.
Crystal Palace – Final Position: 15th – Prediction: 12th
Much like Watford, Crystal Palace had a season of two halves. Fifth on New Years Day, Palace won just two more games all season in the league as they plummeted down in to a potential relegation battle. An FA Cup final will probably excuse a slight under-performance in the league, but it is clear that Palace need a goalscorer to be anything more than a team that just makes up the numbers. I thought that Patrick Bamford would be that man this season, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out for him this year. A 5-1 hammering of Newcastle in November was a particular highlight of their league campaign, but they also suffer the igmony of being one of the only sides to lose to Aston Villa.
Bournemouth – Final Position: 16th – Prediction: 16th
Bournemouth couldn’t have hoped for a better first season in the Premier League. After spending big in the summer, it all appeared to go wrong with Max Gradel, Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilson all picking up long term injuries. But the Cherries never looked like going down, hanging steadily in lower-mid-table. Bournemouth were certainly one of the more entertaining sides to watch, with only Everton and Sunderland scoring more out of the bottom ten, whilst only Aston Villa conceded more. A win over south coast neighbours Southampton will be a highlight for Bournemouth, while their – at the time plucky – 2-1 loss to Villa on the opening day now looks a poor result.