Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final
Monday 27th May, 2019. KO 3pm. Wembley Stadium.
Aston Villa vs Derby County
This is it. The biggest game of the season. The 160m game of football where both teams aim to finish their season with the prize of Premier League Football on offer. For Aston Villa, they hope to banish the disappointment of defeat in the final against Fulham 12 months ago. For Derby County, they hope to escape the Championship after an 11 year stay. Both sides have defied the odds to reach this final. For Villa, sitting in 12th place in February only to embark upon a 12 game unbeaten run to cement their place in the Play-Offs. For Derby, a late run helped them pip the likes of Bristol City and Middlesbrough to a 6th place finish. Both teams found themselves in tough semi-final clashes. Villa up against a strong defensive, West Bromwich Albion whilst Derby came up against Leeds United. Villa won their first leg against West Brom with 2 goals in the final 15 minutes from Conor Hourihane and a Tammy Abraham penalty. The sending off of Dwight Gayle the big talking point. The second leg was tough for Villa. West Brom got their first half goal which they craved but sat behind the ball for majority of the contest making it difficult for Villa to break them down. Villa prevailed on penalties as Tammy Abraham hit the winning spot kick, after Jed Steer had become the hero by making two penalty saves in the shootout. Derby had a tough task on their hands in their second leg. They were defeated 1-0 by Leeds on Saturday with a Kemar Roofe goal. They also went 1-0 down in the 2nd leg only to emphatically come back and win the game 4-2 helped by substitute Jack Marriott.
This is Villa’s third season in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League. The first season was a disappointing one, culminating in finishing 13th following the managerial change in October. In Steve Bruce’s first full season, Villa reached the Play-Off Final but were defeated by Fulham which led to turmoil at Villa Park. Villa were on the brink of liquidation under the ownership of Dr Tony Xia before the arrival of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens as Co-Owners. Steve Bruce left in October after a poor run of results and was replaced by Villa fan, Dean Smith. Villa embarked upon an incredible ten game winning run which propelled them into play-off contention. For Derby, it has been a mixed bag since relegation from the Premier League in 2008. They had 4 successive lower half finishes followed by 4 playoff finishes in 7 seasons. Their last Play-Off success came in 2007 as they defeated West Brom, 1-0 at Wembley to earn Promotion to the Premier League. Frank Lampard was appointed as manager last summer, in a somewhat surprise move. However, Lampard alongside his trusty lieutenant Jody Morris has done well, playing attractive football with a young side to enable Derby County to reach this final.
This week, due to the magnitude of the game, we decided to reach out to Villa fans and Derby fans on social media to gather some thoughts ahead of the big game at Wembley.
I have various feelings; excitement, nervousness, hope, pride, confidence and happiness. I still can’t believe we have made it to the final but I am confident it will be 2nd time lucky. Mings, Grealish, McGinn and Abraham are our key players. They have been excellent and I hope they all have one more big performance. Wilson and Lawrence have their moments of class whilst Mount is their key man. He dictates their play and tempo. He is their Grealish and Whelan or Hourihane will have to work hard to stop him. – Ross Hayward. @ross_hayward23
Villa were poor vs West Brom on Tuesday and will need to improve to succeed in this game. I do believe this is our year however. Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings are our key players however it will be interesting to see who starts out of Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane. I would personally like to see Kortney Hause start in place of Neil Taylor. Bradley Johnson has the experience for Derby whilst Harry Wilson has flashes of brilliance and is like our Jack Grealish. – Owen Judd. @OwXnAVFC
This is the final most Villa fans would have wanted with how the games went earlier this season. However, Derby are a major threat following their victory over Leeds. I’m excited to see two attacking teams go head-to-head and it has the potential to be a great game for neutrals and hopefully for the claret and blue half of Wembley come the final whistle. I’d look to exploit Derby’s defence as much as possible. Grealish is the obvious key man but it could be a game for Anwar El-Ghazi to shine with his pace and trickery. Mount is Derby’s key man. If Villa allow him to play, he has the capability of running the show from an attacking sense. – Sean McGrory. @Sean_McGrory
What a first season for Frank Lampard. Top football being played and a great togetherness at the club. Lampard has a great connection with his players and has brought the club back together. Villa have had a rollercoaster- this is why we love the Championship. The comeback has been remarkable and John McGinn’s performance at Pride Park in November was the best midfield display I’ve ever seen at Pride Park. Dean Smith is a fantastic manager who knows the league inside out. For Derby, Jack Marriott is key- he is lethal in front of goal. Tom Lawrence can be unplayable but also inconsistent. Harry Wilson and Mason Mount will be playing Premier League Football next season regardless of the outcome. Tammy Abraham is a big threat for Villa. I like El-Ghazi because he is very direct with his running and that is something defenders hate. Jack Grealish is the best player in the league and has transformed your season. – Richard Lonsdale, @Lonsmessaldo
I haven’t been that motivated to attend many Derby games as I don’t live in Derby but this season has captivated me. The squad has come together and the football has been exciting. It has been edge of your seat stuff and has been a great ride. Lampard is so passionate. When we play bad you can see his frustration. His ethos to play the Youth is what excites me the most. Villa are a great side, one of the best in the league and I wonder where they’d have ended up had Smith been in charge for the whole season. Jayden Bogle has impressed me for Derby and is a threat. Whilst Mount and Wilson are key going forward, Bradley Johnson is the glue that holds the midfield together and allows the attacking players to do their thing. Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish are Villa’s key men and Grealish will be a Premier League player next season, regardless of the outcome of the final. Mike Palmer: @_MikePalmer
Ross Hayward: Aston Villa 3-1 Derby County
Owen Judd: Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County (AET)
Sean McGrory: Aston Villa 2-0 Derby County
Tom Cowley: Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County, Jack to win the game for us.
Simon Lines: Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County.
Richard Lonsdale: Aston Villa 2-3 Derby County.
Mike Palmer: Aston Villa 2-2 Derby County (AET, Derby to win on Penalties).
Villa has a fully fit squad bar the long term injury to goalkeeper, Orjan Nyland. Their only concern will be Axel Tuanzebe who limped off at West Brom but with such a wait for the game, Villa will be hopeful he will be fit. No suspensions either so expect the Villa 18 to include:
Steer, Elmohamady, Mings, Tuanzebe, Taylor, Adomah, Hourihane, McGinn, El-Ghazi, Grealish, Abraham, Kalinic, Hause, Jedinak, Whelan, Davis, Kodjia, Green.
Derby will be without suspended left back, Scott Malone. Martyn Waghorn is a doubt while Craig Bryson remains side-lined. Andy King is a long term absentee with an ankle injury.
This is such a huge game. For Villa, what a rollercoaster of a season we have had. For me, immense pride in how Dean Smith and the players turned it round so emphatically. There have been some incredible performances in these last few months and there is one more game to get us over the line. A note for the Villa supporters. You have been incredible this season, regular sold out games at Villa Park and every away game sold out, the lads have certainly been roared on by you guys. I truly hope this is our year, last year at Wembley was painful and not something we want to go through again. Shout loud once more Villans, we are so nearly there. UTV
A big thank you to all the contributions to this match preview including the Derby County supporters, it was a pleasure to chat about the match lads and all the best in whichever division you end up in next season.
Finally, I think the fellow team members at The Villa Boys from Aston Blog would join me in thanking you guys for supporting the blog these past few months. Whether it has been posts regarding Villa and football or posts discussing Mental Health, the support towards the blog has been brilliant since Tom created this space a few months ago. It was a pleasure to join Tom and help this platform grow. The plan is to do a regular match preview next season, whether that be in the Premier League or the Championship (let’s hope it’s the former).
Enjoy your summer guys, look out for some more content over the summer to keep us occupied and come on you Villa boys for Monday!
The Villa boys from Aston………We Travel near and far!