Derby produced a stunning performance to knock Leeds out of the Championship playoffs and will meet Aston Villa in the final at Wembley on Monday, in what is expected to be pulsating but cagey affair. Here’s the Big Game Focus with some betting tips and some team news. Bet on the game here.
Villa are bidding to return to the Premier League after a three-year absence having edged West Brom in a nervy penalty shoot-out. Villa’s journey to this point has been phenomenal. When Dean Smith and John Terry took over in October, the club was 15th. The two were seen as saviours of a club slowly slipping to mediocrity. The club endured a disastrous run of form between December to February. A remarkable turnaround saw them win ten matches on the trot which eventually catapulted them into playoff spots.
For Derby, this has been an up and down season for Frank Lampard in his first season as the Rams manager. An impressive run of form towards the end of the season saw them claim a place in the playoffs. Lampard will now face former teammate John Terry who is Smith’s assistant in the eagerly anticipated final.
Villa’s astonishing ten-match winning streak began with a 4-0 thrashing of Derby at Villa Park. They have now lost just twice since the beginning of March and have an obvious upper hand in this clash. They have beaten the Rams in both their Championship matches this season with an aggregate scoreline of 7-0. This will be Derby’s eighth attempt at Premier League promotion through the playoffs and they’ve only achieved it once which was 12 years ago. Therefore you can back an Aston Villa Win at odds of 2.20.
Conor Hourihane has been an influential figure for Villa this season. Overall, from midfield, he’s scored eight goals and provided 11 assists in the Championship. The Irishman scored in the home and away victories over the Rams. Therefore, odds of 5.00 for Hourihane as Anytime Goalscorer look very attractive.
The Championship play-off final has been a low scoring affair in the last few years. Most teams will tend to be cautious given what is at stake. The previous six have each seen Under 2.5 Goals scored. Only two of the last seven head to head matches between these two has seen Over 2.5 Goals. Therefore, you can back Under 2.5 Goals at odds of 1.75.
Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe limped off with an ankle injury late on in extra time of the second leg against West Brom. A knee injury continues to keep James Chester on the sidelines, while keeper Orjan Nyland is out with a long-term Achilles problem.
Scott Malone was dismissed in the 91st minute of Derby’s 4-2 away win over Leeds in the semi-finals, therefore, Ashley Cole might slot at left-back. Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth are both long-term absentees.
Aston Villa: Ster, Mohamady, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor, Hourihane, Adomah, McGinn, Grealish, Ghazi, Abraham
Derby Country: Roos Cole, Tomori, Keogh, Bogle, Johnson, Holmes, Lawrence, Mount, Wilson, Marriott