With the richest prize in world football at stake, the Championship Play-Off final pits Aston Villa against Derby. With Villa finishing 5th and Derby 6th, this isn’t the final that everyone was predicting. Aston Villa got the job done on penalties against West Midland’s rivals West Bromwich Albion and Derby participated in probably the best match of the season as they squeaked past Play-Off favourites Leeds.
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa side made a bit of a meal of their semi-final tie, after leading from the first leg 2-1, they struggled to get the job done against a West Brom side who played the last forty minutes with ten men. As I mentioned, the Villains got the job done in the penalty shootout, as their strikers were able to keep their nerve against the defenders who took the penalties for West Brom.
Frank Lampard’s Derby on the other hand were involved in an absolute classic at Elland Road. After losing 1-0 at Pride Park and conceding early in the second leg, Derby really upped their game and turned the tie around winning 4-2 in the end with a late Jack Marriot winner. Derby had been made a massive underdog going into the second leg, with odds of 7.00 to qualify, most people had completely written them off.
Dean Smith will be buoyed by the return of on-loan defender Axel Tuanzebe, after the Manchester United loanee hobbled off against West Brom last time out. Which gives the former Brentford manager a bit of a dilemma for his starting eleven. Obviously there are worse problems to have than the ability to call on a fully-fit squad.
Tammy Abraham is likely to lead the line once again, with a combination of Jack Grealish, Johnathan Kodjia, Albert Adomad making up the attacking three behind the on-loan striker. With the likes of John McGinn and Conor Hourihane sitting behind to give the back four a well-needed shield to counter the potent attacking threat of Derby. Defensive rock Tyrone Mings is likely to accompany the returning Axel Tuanzebe, with Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady on the flanks.
Derby on the other hand have been somewhat blighted by injury this season, that doesn’t change in the lead-up to the final. Duane Holmes & Martyn Waghorn are both major injury doubts for Frank Lampard, with the aforementioned a worry due to a thigh injury which has blighted the play-off push for the English midfielder.
As it was in the second leg of the play-off semi-final victory over Leeds, both Craig Bryson and David Nugent will be missing through injury. Match winner vs Leeds – Jack Marriot is expected to lead the line for the East Midlands side, with Harry Wilson, Tom Lawrence and Mason Mount providing support from an attacking midfield role. Bradley Johnson & Tom Huddlestone are expected to sit just in-front of the back four. Left-back Scott Malone is missing through suspension after picking up a second yellow in the second leg vs Leeds. However on-loan hot prospect Fikayo Tomori should line up with veteran captain Richard Keogh, as he looks to redeem some Wembley demons.
With both sides clearly possessing an abundance of attacking prowess, I’m definitely going to be looking at the goals market. You can get Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00, or Both Teams to Score @ 1.72, I believe both markets hold substantial value. Also the the Both Teams to Score & Win market for Villa @ 4.50, as they’ve been fantastic on that market throughout the season.
From a Goal-scorer perspective, the pick of the bunch has to be Tammy Abraham @ 2.10, but also from a value perspective I think Mason Mount anytime goal-scorer @ 4.50 is a great shout.
Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00
Aston Villa Win & BTTS @ 4.50
Tammy Abraham to Score Anytime @ 2.10