Aston Villa will take on Fulham in the Championship Playoff final following a well-fought victory over two legs against Middlesbrough. With tickets selling well for the big day at Wembley, Steve Bruce and the boys will need to make this a day to remember.
There is one huge factor for any football match and especially for one of this nature, the starting eleven. I am not alone when have thought about what my playoff final eleven would be so I thought I would share my thoughts and reasons behind each of my choices.
Sam Johnstone – This one is pretty self-explanatory, our number one keeper and some people’s player of the season. Without him, our defensive record wouldn’t be half as good as it is this season.
Ahmed Elmohamady – He is a fast player and will be able to keep up with the likes of Ryan Sessegnon running at the defence. He also tends to link up well with Robert Snodgrass and we didn’t look quite right in the second Playoff Semi Final against Middlesbrough without him.
John Terry – A model professional who has given his all every game he has played in a Claret and Blue shirt. His experience speaks volumes.
James Chester – There are many things that go with each other in life and right now Terry and Chester work like peas in a pod. He was player of the season for a reason.
Alan Hutton – The Scottish Cafu. His performance in the first and second legs of the playoff semifinals are worthy of a start themselves, let alone the whole season. He pocketed Adama Traore for 180 minutes and it would not be a surprise if he was man marking Sessegnon. Hopefully, he can keep him out the game. Give him a contract.
Birkir Bjarnason – Birkir would be more suited to stop Fulham’s quick attacks than Mile Jedinak. They aren’t as physical as Middlesbrough and they often rely on speed. Birkir will guarantee lots running and this could be the difference on a big pitch. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Bruce stuck with the same side as the Playoff Semis though!
Jack Grealish – A lot has been made of Jack since his return from that nasty injury. As horrible as it was maybe it was a blessing in disguise as he has become our most influential player. If Villa is to perform then we need Grealish to be at the top of his game.
Conor Hourihane – The heartbeat of our midfield. Some fans have questioned Hourihane at times this season but he is the legs of our midfield for me. He always gives 100% and can also pop up with a goal or two. Don’t forget he his the first Villa midfielder to hit double figures since David Platt.
Albert Adomah – Adomah is one of the first names on the team sheets for me. Although his form has dipped a little over the backend of the season he always gives his all and helps out defensively.
Robert Snodgrass – Mr reliable week in week out. He tends to wear his heart on his sleeve and has contributed to more assists than any other Villa player this season. Need I say any more?
Lewis Grabban – With 20 goals this season, there is no one else we can possibly play despite some fans calling for Jonathan Kodjia to return. He clearly knows where the back of the net is and has already scored some crucial goals in a Villa shirt. Let’s hope he can score us to playoff glory.
Do you agree with my playoff starting eleven? If not, who would you pick and why?