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Survival of the fittest

Football has changed beyond recognition in the last two decades – and so has the gulf between the top clubs and the rest.

And the big difference is that Premier League clubs now have much more financial clout than ever before.

The only clubs to have avoided relegation from the Premier League since it started are Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.

Reading, Southampton and West Ham United will all be feeling confident that they can stay up this season, even if the weight of history is against them.

The harsh reality facing this season’s promoted trio is that in 20 years of the Premier League; only twice have the three elevated teams all survived.

Last year, QPR, Norwich City and Swansea City managed to pull of the ‘impossible’ and back in 2002 Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Fulham all prolonged their stay in the Premier League.

Second season syndrome

If it doesn’t happen immediately, second season syndrome often kicks in.

Reading finished eighth in their first Premier League season before being relegated the following year, while West Ham fans have got used to both the excitement of relegation and the disappointment of relegation.

The challenge for the Hammers this time is to see if they can stick around, but it’s a tough ask.

West Ham are off to a winning start but the harsh reality for Southampton is, despite a good performance against the Premier League champions at the weekend, they kicked off with a defeat.

Reading, meanwhile, will do well to add to the solitary point they gained when they visit Stamford Bridge in Wednesday night’s game.

The bookmakers reckon Reading and Southampton are favourites for the drop, although West Ham United are backed to stay up.

By Otonye Young-Harry

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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