26th May 2018. Aston Villa take on Fulham for a place in the Premiership at Wembley in the Championship play-off Final. We all know the outcome and we all know how much it hurt. Aston Villa has another shot at the play-off’s but this time around we must not have any regrets.
I am sure I am not alone when I say that I felt that we didn’t turn up at Wembley last season. I would even go as far as saying neither did Fulham. One goal was the difference in otherwise a rather dull game. I think that is what hurt the most. We came away from the game with far too many regrets.
West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich Albion stands in the way of Dean Smith’s men making a return to Wembley for another play-off final. Smith has openly stated for some time now that we must take one game at a time and he is spot on.
Too many times in the past, people have got ahead of themselves and we have been let down. Without wanting to state the obvious – all four sides in the play-off’s have a chance to go up. It feels different from last year. The sides seem stronger and better prepared. I always felt that we would meet Fulham in the final last year. This year I generally can’t call it.
I believe that on our day we are a match for anyone on this division but the other three sides would probably state the time. West Bromwich Albion has already taken four points from a possible six off Villa this year. They have proved they are capable of beating us.
Villa have been in fine form going into the play-off’s but that has to go out of the window where the play-offs are concerned. I am generally glad that we have lost before we went into the play-offs.
It means we have a clean slate and we don’t have that bubble hanging over our heads. Everyone would have wanted to beat Villa to stop that run but now we are all on a level playing field.
If you do think form plays a part then you will be pleased to know that Villa have picked up 13 points from a possible 18. The same amount as Frank Lampard’s Derby County. West Brom have 10 while Leeds have 7. This would suggest that it would be a Villa v Derby Final. Frank Lampard v John Terry but let’s not get ahead of ourselves eh?
One good thing is we have plenty of fresh faces going into the playoffs compared to last season. So many of our players seem hungry to prove themselves. Something Smith wanted when he went into the January transfer window.
Jack Grealish seems more determined than ever now he has the captains armband. Players like Tammy Abraham are returning to fitness at the right time.
Many of our players can return to their parent clubs regardless of the outcome. Some, like Grealish, may even find themselves playing at the top level should we fail to get promoted ourselves. But I still feel they are determined to succeed. I just hope regardless of what happens, we walk away from this season with no regrets. Let’s learn from our past mistakes.