For so long, Premier League title challenges have fizzled out long before the season climax, while the same could be said of the top four as the usual names dominate at the business end of the division.
However, the situation at the bottom of the table is frequently much tighter and picking the Premier League’s bottom three is a much trickier task than predicting the Champions League berths.
Writing in his blog for Sky Sports, Merson has given it his best shot and sees Sunderland finally succumbing to the drop despite a succession of seasons surviving by the skin of their teeth.
Bournemouth – 16th:
Merson predicts Bournemouth to fare best out of the newly-promoted teams, and on initial evidence he may have a point as the Cherries possess an abundance of attacking talent.
“Bournemouth (16) are decent, I was a bit worried at the start of the season but the West Ham game was impressive and they've got some good players, who will get used to the Premier League and they will be alright,” the former Arsenal midfield explained.
West Bromwich Albion – 17th:
The Baggies haven’t made the best of starts to the season, though with games against Chelsea and Manchester City out of the way, things could soon pick up for them.
The Saido Berahino situation can’t have helped, but in boss Tony Pulis they have every reason to believe that they will beat the drop. Merson, though, feels they haven’t done enough on the transfer front, saying:
“I'll say West Brom (17) will survive… just. I only say that because the Berahino issue has knocked them a bit sideways and there's a lot going on at West Brom. I don't think they've brought in enough.”
Sunderland – 18th:
The Black Cats simply didn’t buy enough creative players over the summer, though in the first few games of the season it looked more like it was their defence which is the underlying issue.
Jeremain Lens and Fabio Borini may have talent u pfront, though they may struggle for service.
“I want to see Sunderland (18) stay up - it's a big football club - but I always think, when you're down there season after season, then sooner or later you'll get caught in it and drop like Wigan did,” Merson said.
Norwich – 19th:
Norwich City have made a bright start to life in the Premier League, taking four points from four games , with their performances arguably deserving more than they have delivered.
However, the Canaries didn’t really strengthen their attacking options in the summer and their lack of prolificacy, or an injury or two up top, could ultimately be their downfall.
“I've watched Norwich (19) loads of times. Two years ago when they were in the Premier League they didn't score enough goals. If you don't score any goals, you ain't going to stay up,” Merson said.
“I thought getting rid of Bradley Johnson for £6m was strange. He's one of those midfield players that can chip in with a lot of goals.”
Watford – 20th:
The Hornets were one of the busier clubs in the transfer market, making use of their superb scouting network and connections to bring in a host of new players.
After a positive start at Everton, they have fired three blanks since and, like Norwich, their lack of firepower up top could see them struggle as Merson laments their use of star striker Troy Deeney.
“I’ve watched Watford (20) a few times now and I thought at Everton they were very good, but they haven't looked like scoring since then, and you've got to score goals to stay up,” Merson conceded.
“They're not playing to Troy Deeney's strengths.”