Play Off Final Preview and View from the Bookmakers

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Can Grealish reignite Villa's season?

At the time of writing it looks like Villa and Leeds United are the joint-favourites to get through the Championship playoffs and secure their places in the Premiership for next season. Leeds, have, of course, had the automatic promotion slot for most of the season. Whilst Villa are the favourites to overcome West Brom. 

Derby County got their play-off place by beating West Brom and now they’re heading into their matches against Leeds, having been unbeaten in the last six games. 

Whilst Villa’s manager Dean Smith only arrived in the post on 18th October last year, after taking over from Steve Bruce. He’s established himself as part of the club very quickly and pundits reckon he’s got the best squad of players out of any of the four sides competing in the playoffs. 

Strong Performances from all the Teams

With strong performances during the season from Jack Grealish, who could well have a healthy claim at a place in the England squad, and Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea – fans are hoping both with be fit to face the match against West Brom. 

The first of the meetups are at Villa Park. Dean Smith is going to look to his team to get a sizeable advantage for the second game. Villa has, after all, managed fifty goals in front of their home crown this season. 

One bookmaker’s view is that Aston Villa should comfortably win the playoffs at 21/10. It could be impossible to bet against a team who also have Conor Hourihane and Gary Whelan in midfield positions and with the team, in its current form it’s hard to see how West Brom could overcome them over the course of two matches. 

How will the other teams fair?

Derby County has found themselves in the playoffs for the second season. This time they finished in the sixth position, just ahead of Middlesbrough.

New manager Frank Lampard should take plenty heart from the fact he’s managed to get Derby into the playoffs in his first season as manager. He’s secured Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori on loan from Chelsea and they’ve both added verve to the team ahead of the upcoming matches. 

Gareth Southgate has called Mount up for England and Derby’s Wilson is already a first-team player for Wales. The on-loan player from Liverpool is known as a free kick whizz and will take any opportunities he can against Leeds. 

Derby did take a 4-0 hammering at Villa Park earlier in the season, but the final twelve games saw just one loss for the team, a distinct improvement. Lampard’s side has also managed to take a few Premier League scalps, beating Man United and Southampton in FA Cup games. They’ve no shortage of experience and talent when it does come to these crucial knockout games. 

Lampard’s side might be considered the outsiders in the play-off, so they’re going into the matches perhaps with the least amount of expectation on their shoulders. The end of season deciders can throw up surprises, so it’s all down to the day of the match to find out who will win and take the coveted Premier League spots.

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