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Who Will Reading FC Face In 2016/17? Part One

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Bucks looks at the ex-Premier League sides gracing the Championship next season, and assesses what we should expect from them.

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Having been promoted to the Premier League, champions Burnley, runners-up Middlesbrough and Playoff winners Hull City leave the Championship behind. Similarly, Charlton Athletic, MK Dons and Bolton Wanderers will all soon grace English football's third tier. But who are the teams replacing them in the Championship? We had a look at the three relegated Premier League clubs today, with those promoted from League One coming under the microscope tomorrow.

Newcastle United

Last season's finish: 18th in the Premier League with 37 points.

A one-time (and still occasional) Premier League giant, Newcastle United have been in this situation before. A mixture of problems on the pitch and off it resulted in relegation in 2009, with pretty similar results in 2016.

Nonetheless, the Magpies will obviously be a formidable side in the Championship. Much of their Premier League squad is likely to stay on under new boss Rafa Benitez, who is likely to be backed by a substantial warchest to get United back into the top division at the first time of asking.

Reading most recently played Newcastle in the Premier League campaign of 2012/13. In fact, the Royals took a solid points return from them, courtesy of a 2-2 draw at the Madejski and a 2-1 victory at St James' Park.

In the Championship season of 2009/10, Reading fared a lot worse against Newcastle United, who stormed to the league title with 102 points. That campaign saw the Royals lose 3-0 away from home, and 2-1 in Berkshire.

2016/17 prediction: early favourites to win the Championship again.

Norwich City

Last season's finish: 19th in the Premier League with 34 points.

A little while ago, I described Norwich City as a 'yo-yo' club, an assessment that their recent relegation seems to prove. Having secured back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League, the Canaries found themselves in the top flight in 2011, before being relegated in 2014. However, having bounced straight back in 2015, the East Anglia side have once more returned to the Championship.

Because of that wealth of recent promotion experience, parachute payments, and presumed retention of Premier League players and upcoming manager Alex Neil, you'd have to say that they're also a team to watch out for.

Opposite to their fortunes with Newcastle, Reading have a bad recent record against Norwich City in the Premier League, but a very good one in the Championship. The Royals' last stay in the top flight saw a 0-0 draw at the Mad Stad, followed by a 2-1 loss at Carrow Road. However, impressively, Reading did the double over Norwich in 2014/15 via a brace of 2-1 wins.

2016/17 prediction: likely to finish in the Playoffs.

Aston Villa

Last season's finish: 20th in the Premier League with 17 points.

What a mess Aston Villa are in. Having seen three consecutive sixth-placed finishes between 2008 and 2010, the Birmingham-based team have just endured one of the more pathetic campaigns in recent Premier League history. This will be the first time that the Villans have been in the second tier since 1988; before that, you've got to go back to 1975.

Despite that Premier League calibre, it's hard to tell what state the club will be in when the new season kicks off. Villa are without a manager, are in the midst of a takeover, and their players don't even have a set date on which to return to training. Nonetheless, should all of those things sort themselves out, you can't rule out Villa making a convincing promotion charge.

As I said above, Villa haven't played in the Championship for quite a while, and thus don't have a recent record in that division against Reading. As for the Premier League though, it's not pretty reading for the Royals. Having been in the same relegation fight that Reading ultimately lost, Villa did the double over us: a 1-0 win at Villa Park, followed by a 2-1 victory at the Madejski. In fact, it was that game which pushed Anton Zingarevich to sack Brian McDermott.

2016/17 prediction: the impending Chinese takeover should bankroll Villa to Playoff finish at least.