Aston Villa Face Derby For Premier League Berth
It’s been a long, hard and gruelling season as we’ve said a thousand times now, but it seems as if the finish line is finally in sight. English football has had one of its best years in a long, long time, and with both European finals being contested by Premier League teams, we struggle to see how people can argue with that. Aside from just Europe, though, there are a lot of other reasons to be excited – with one of them being due to what is going to take place tomorrow at Wembley Stadium in front of almost 90,000 passionate fans.
We are, of course, referring to the 2019 Championship Play-Off Final. The game will be contested between Aston Villa and Derby County, after the two sides were able to come through their respective semi finals. It’s well known at this stage what the prize is at the end of the rainbow for the winner of the final, but in case you’d forgotten, here it is in short: a place in the top flight of English football and a lot of money. Oh, and the fans will remember the day as one of the best days of their life, especially if they are there live.
Aston Villa have long since been thought of as one of the biggest teams in English football to be playing outside of the Premier League, and by long since, we mean ever since they were relegated down into the Championship a few years ago. This season has been one full of ups and downs, but in the back end of the campaign, they’ve been able to put together a run that has more than helped them to earn their place at Wembley. They were here twelve months ago as we all know, but they’ll be hoping that their experience gained from the loss against Fulham can assist them in getting the win over the Rams.
Then again, the Rams themselves have had their own heartbreak at the home of the English game in the last few years. Back in 2014 they were considered to be the favourites to go up in the final when they went one on one with Queens Park Rangers. As we all know Bobby Zamora had other ideas, and Derby have been languishing in the second tier ever since. Frank Lampard came into the equation this season, though, and it’s safe to say that he has been able to inject new life into this football club.
Despite a phenomenal run to end the second half of the Championship season, Villa have certainly had a few issues as of late purely from a results perspective. They beat Bolton 2-0 and then edged out Millwall in a narrow 1-0 triumph, before that oh so controversial 1-1 draw against Leeds United – who many expected them to face again in the final. They lost to champions Norwich on the final day of the season, and then in their big semi final showdown with West Brom, they won the first leg 2-1 before losing the second leg 1-0. Thankfully, the art of the penalty shootout allowed them to defeat their rivals at The Hawthorns.
Derby, on the other hand, pushed hard to ensure they’d be playing play-off football once again. They beat QPR and Bristol City, before a slip up against Swansea left some fans wondering whether or not they’d ‘bottle’ it once again. On the final day they were able to beat West Bromwich Albion to confirm their place in the play-offs, but in their first leg semi final game against Leeds, they lost 1-0. Thankfully miraculous comebacks have been pretty common this season, and the Rams pulled off another as they came from 2-0 down on aggregate to go through to the final.
Throughout the course of their respective histories, it’s the West Midlands side that has certainly had the advantage over their East Midlands rivals. Villa hold a 71-44 overall head to head standings advantage over Derby, with their very first meeting taking place way back in 1885. Their two encounters from earlier on this season actually weren’t even that close either, with Villa battering Derby 3-0 and 4-0 home and away. Of course, at this stage of proceedings, that means absolutely nothing.
Axel Tuanzebe impressed against West Brom, but an ankle injury has ensured that he is a doubt for the final. Hause is going to be the man tipped to replace him if he can’t feature, with Albert Adomah expected to be given the nod to start ahead of Andre Green. James Chester’s knee injury ensures that he is going to play no part in the final, and as the majority of Villa fans will know, Orjan Nyland is still out due to a long term Achilles issue. Aside from that, Villa should be at full strength for the game.
Scott Malone’s red card means that he will be suspended for the final, and also means that Ashley Cole will be given the chance to start at Wembley. Waghorn should return to the squad after an Achilles injury kept him out of the semi finals, although Jack Marriott’s brace against Leeds has put him in the running for a place in the starting XI. Davies and Forsyth are both still out with long term injuries, although there does appear to be a chance that Craig Bryson could return to the first team as he slowly recovers from ankle ligament damage that kept him out of the semis.
Aston Villa vs Derby Betting Prediction
You’d be a fool to think that this or any other play-off final is a foregone conclusion, but many fans do believe that Villa are the clear favourites in this tie. They just seem to possess more quality throughout the core of their squad in comparison to Derby, but of course, the heart that Lampard’s men have been able to showcase in the last nine months goes a long way. We think it’s going to be a pretty nervy game in terms of attempts on goal, which ironically would mirror both of these team’s last appearances in the play-off final.
In the second half, though, we can see Villa edging themselves ahead with an early goal, before going on to grind out a narrow win and a place back in the Premier League. It certainly isn’t going to be easy and Derby aren’t going to sit back and take it, but in the battle of Terry vs Lampard, it seems like JT (and Dean Smith) will have the advantage. If Villa do go up then Derby need to be smart in the summer, because it’s starting to look increasingly likely that Lamps is heading back to his spiritual home of Stamford Bridge.