Since the current format of the Premier League was established in 1995 there has only been one season – 1997/98 – when the three promoted clubs all went straight back down, so it’s fair to expect that at least one of this year’s arrivals will avoid the drop.
We’ve examined the data from last season’s Championship to assess each club’s survival prospects.
Continuity of personnel could be an issue for Villa and with current boss Dean Smith having only joined last October they’re surely still a work in progress.
They’re set to return to the top-flight without four of their most-used 11 players from last season including their main goal threat – 26-goal striker Tammy Abraham.
With Chelsea under a transfer ban they’re unlikely to let one of their few proven forwards depart, so the goalscoring burden will fall on his less prolific strike partner Jonathan Kodjia and new signing Wesley, who will need to adapt quickly from the less-demanding environment of the Belgian top-flight.
Defence could prove to be even more of a problem for Smith, with his charges having only kept 12 clean sheets in the Championship last term – around five fewer than the average promoted side in recent years.
This vulnerability at the back was particularly noticeable in big games – Villa only won two of their 10 matches against the rest of the final top six and conceded 19 goals in eight encounters with the eventual top four.
They also had to recover over a third of their points – 29 out of 76 – from losing positions, which won’t be as easy against top-flight opponents, and dropped 23 from winning positions. Unless Villa can tighten things up over the summer, they could in for a sobering campaign.
Verdict: The least likely of the three to survive thanks to a porous defence and an ongoing squad rebuild. Perhaps promotion came a year too soon.
While the Canaries’ 13 clean sheets last season is almost as concerning as Villa’s 12, they can at least be optimistic of troubling their opponents at the other end of the pitch.
Daniel Farke’s side only failed to score in three of their 46 league games last season, the lowest number of blanks drawn in the division, and the average of 5.5 shots on target they fired in per match was also the best in the second tier.
Unlike Villa, they’ve been able to retain the services of their chief attacking weapon, Teemu Pukki, who topped the charts with 29 goals and will surely be their main attacking outlet once more.
Should Pukki suffer an injury – or just need a rest – then Farke will have to hope that new signing Josip Drmic is capable of another season like his first in the Bundesliga – when he netted 17 goals – rather than the subsequent five in which he has only notched 14 more times in total.
Where Norwich had more in common with Villa last term was a worrying inconsistency when facing the rest of the Championship top six, against whom they recorded just three wins from a possible 10 and conceded more goals than they scored.
None of those 10 matches saw the Canaries keep a clean sheet, so it’s likely that some defensive upgrades will be necessary to complement their impressive attack.
Verdict: Scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem if Plan A works, but keeping their opponents from doing the same may be a challenge unless they shore up the defence.
Of the three promoted sides, only the Blades can be optimistic of a respectable defensive record, having kept a far more impressive 21 clean sheets last term. Key to this was their resilience at the back, with just 29% of the shots they faced finding the target and only 7.7% finding their net – both among the lowest in the division.
Assuming they can re-loan Dean Henderson from Manchester United, the same well-drilled defensive unit could be crucial to their survival.
A strong back-line meant they rarely found themselves behind: they trailed for less than 10% of their minutes on the pitch last season – around half as long as Villa or Norwich did – and that resilience could well make the difference.
They also won five of their 10 matches against the rest of the eventual top six – as many as the other two promoted sides combined – which suggests they have the character to handle big games.
One area which might trip them up, however, is squad depth, as they secured promotion with a far smaller core group of players than the other two sides. Only 13 of Chris Wilder’s players featured for at least 1,000 league minutes last season, which was the joint-fewest in the division.
While a small, tight-knit group of players has its benefits, the demands of the Premier League bring with them an increased risk of injuries and fatigue that could disrupt a small squad.
The Blades’ two main goal threats last term could be particularly susceptible to the intensity of top-flight football, with Billy Sharp turning 34 this year and David McGoldrick 32, so the addition of another forward player to lighten their load would be advisable.
With the Blades creating fewer chances and drawing more blanks than the other two promoted teams, the rumoured capture of Neal Maupay from Brentford – who outscored Sharp in the second tier last term – would fit the bill perfectly.
Verdict: Assuming they recruit well – particularly up front – then they look the best equipped to survive.