Championship Playoff Final Betting Odds
|Aston Villa to be promoted
|Derby County to be promoted
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The Championship Playoff semi-finals have now taken place, with Aston Villa and Derby County having emerged in different ways to take their place in the Wembley final on Monday 27 May. There won’t be an empty seat at the national stadium as the two Midlands clubs battle it out for that final place in next season’s Premier League.
The Villans were the first to claim their final spot after surviving a West Brom onslaught at The Hawthorns and eventually coming through after a penalty shootout. Having come from behind to win 2-1 at Villa Park, Dean Smith’s team conceded early in the second leg against the Baggies and can be thankful that Chris Brunt was sent off just as the hosts looked like going ahead.
Derby County’s victory over Leeds was altogether more dramatic. Frank Lampard’s side were roundly outplayed at Pride Park when losing 1-0, while the Rams fell behind at Elland Road and it appeared as though the writing was on the wall for Frank Lampard’s man.
However, substitute Jack Marriott was to have an instant impact on the stroke of half-time and that triggered a frenetic second-half which saw Derby eventually win the match 4-2 which meant a 4-3 aggregate victory over a Leeds team who appeared to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Aston Villa favourites to land promotion
Aston Villa are now trading at 8/13 with Bet365 to land promotion back to the Premier League, having been relegated from the top flight at the end of the 2015/16 season. It’s been an eventful three seasons since then, with Steve Bruce having taken them to last season’s Championship play-off final before a 1-0 defeat against Fulham at Wembley.
Bruce didn’t last long during the current campaign, with supporters tiring of the manager’s pragmatic tactics although Dean Smith has been hugely popular in the months since he swapped Brentford for the Midlands club. Being a Villa fan earns him enormous kudos with the supporters and he’s unashamedly offensive in terms of match strategy which has seen the team score bundles of goals.
Aston Villa are 6/5 with BetHard to win the Wembley showdown in ninety minutes and you might think they have an advantage purely because they reached the play-off final last season. The experience of losing on that particular occasion might well spur on the Villans who will take to the field with Tammy Abraham going in search of further goals.
However, it’s hard to argue that the team were particularly convincing in either match against West Brom and it was largely backs-to-the-wall stuff at The Hawthorns, especially after conceding an early goal. Derby will be confident that they can cause problems for a team who are not defensively tight and relied on goalkeeper Jed Steer against the Albion.
Derby fresh from that comeback at Leeds
Frank Lampard is one match away from a hugely successful debut season as a football manager. It was hard to predict how the Chelsea legend would fare when handed a relatively poisoned chalice by Derby County owner Mel Morris back in August, although the 40-year-old was partially recruited due to his links at Stamford Bridge which enabled a couple of influential loanees to head north.
It’s fair to say that the Rams wouldn’t have reached the play-offs without Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori who might well be playing first-team football for Chelsea next season. Mount in particular has been a revelation in midfield and it was his driving performance at Elland Road which helped County get over the line.
Harry Wilson is another loan player and the Liverpool man has also made a huge impact for Derby this season, with the 22-year-old scoring a penalty against Leeds and he’s been a big threat from set pieces ever since the season began. It also appears that Jack Marriott has finally woken up from his slumber to make a scoring impact after a brace at Elland Road.
This Derby team are certainly hard to predict although they’ve been the team for the big occasion many times this season. They got the better of Southampton over two matches in the FA Cup and also knocked Manchester United out of the EFL Cup. Confidence will be high in the ranks and they’ll positively relish the tag of being underdogs.
Villa 7-0 ahead on aggregate against Derby this season
It’s fair to say that Derby have come off significantly worse in the two matches played against Aston Villa this season and one wonders what sort of bearing that will have on Bank Holiday Monday. Dean Smith was in charge by the time that the Villans made the short trip to Pride Park on 10 November, with his team returning home with a 3-0 win.
The game was fairly even in the first half which ended goalless, although the visitors ran riot after the interval, with John McGinn, Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish running the midfield. It should be noted that Mason Mount was missing for that contest and it was something of a blip considering that Derby only lost three home matches all season.
However, worse was to follow for the Rams in the return match at Villa Park. Hourihane scored an early opener for the home team, while three goals in the space of eight minutes before half-time saw the Villans into an unassailable 4-0 lead, with the scoreline remaining the same until the full-time whistle.
That was actually a fourth consecutive defeat for Derby and perhaps a big turning point in their season. Since that point, Lampard’s men only lost one further game for the remainder of the regular season, with County accumulating enough points to finish in sixth place in the overall standings.
I expect this game to be much closer, and Aston Villa to win in Extra Time looks a nice proposition at 8/1 with William Hill.
Will Grealish or Mount shine the brightest at Wembley?
It’s safe to say that Jack Grealish and Mason Mount will be playing Premier League football next season irrespective of whether their respective teams are promoted on Monday 27 May. Mount is actually a Chelsea player and the fact that Gareth Southgate has already included him in the England senior squad is a huge indicator of the youngster’s ability, with Eden Hazard’s imminent departure at Stamford Bridge creating a potential opportunity.
The 20-year-old has scored nine goals in the Championship this term and a further two in the League Cup. He also made four assists and has been crucial to the team’s success. Mount hasn’t necessarily played purely as an attacking midfielder and often drops deep to collect the ball from his team’s centre-backs before orchestrating play. He’ll be a big player at Wembley.
As for Grealish, it has been six goals and seven assists in his thirty-three Championship matches this season although this doesn’t indicate exactly how influential he has been for Aston Villa yet again. The 23-year-old was subject to interest from Tottenham Hotspur last summer although he will hope to get his boyhood club promoted to increase his chances of staying put at Villa Park.
The threat of Grealish was largely snuffed out by Fulham twelve months ago, although the midfield will be out to put things right on the big stage. He and his team-mates will have been encouraged by the way that Derby conceded three goals against Leeds and also by the fact that Villa have found the net seven times against these opponents already this term.
Can Tomori stop Tammy at Wembley?
Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori won’t be the only Chelsea loanees on the Wembley turf, with Tammy Abraham lining up in attack for Aston Villa and that put him in direct opposition to Tomori. The latter will be acutely aware that the 21-year-old scored at Pride Park before also finding the net in that 4-0 drubbing a few months later.
Abraham has had a season to remember, scoring twenty-six goals in a claret-and-blue shirt this season and boosting his popularity among supporters by deciding against a permanent move to Wolves in January. The lanky forward has five goals in the past seven matches and appears to have recovered from a recent injury.
On the flip side, Tomori is also 21 and has followed on a successful loan spell at Hull City last season by being a key component in defence for Derby this time around. After a relatively shaky start, the Canada-born defender has slotted in alongside Richard Keogh and impressed supporters with his ball-playing ability.
Tomori’s reading of the game has made him a fan favourite and he’ll look to tame Tammy at Wembley in what is sure to be an intriguing battle. We wouldn’t be surprised if this tie goes to extra-time and penalties, with Abraham potentially only finding the net if it came to a shootout.