It’s hard to argue that the 2018/19 English football season has been phenomenal all around. We have an all English UEFA Champions League final and an all English UEFA Europa League final. We all watched Manchester City F.C. and Liverpool F.C. come down to the final match day to determine who would lift the Premier League trophy. And in the EFL Championship we have been treated to one of the best playoffs runs in recent memory. The final two teams that will meet at Wembley are Derby County F.C. and Aston Villa F.C..
Aston Villa met West Bromwich Albion F.C. in a home and away West Midlands derby. The first leg saw Aston Villa walk away 2-1 winners at Villa Park. West Brom would turn it around in the second leg scoring a goal 29th minute that saw them go level on aggregate. The teams would remain level through regulation and extra time. Jed Steer proved to be the hero for Aston Villa has he saved the first two of West Brom’s penalties before Tammy Abraham sent Villa to Wembley.
Derby County and Leeds United F.C. faced each other in the first round meeting first at Pride Park. Things would not go the way Frank Lampard had hoped as Leeds won on the night 1-0 after a Kemar Roofe goal in the 55th minute. Things would get worse in the return leg when Stuart Dallas put Leeds up 1-0 on the night (2-0 on aggregate) in the 24th minute. Lampard made an early changed bringing in Jack Marriott in the 44th minute who would score on his first touch less than a minute later. This sparked an unforeseen comeback for the Rams as they would come back to win 4-2 on the night (4-3 on aggregate) to book their spot at Wembley Stadium.
Aston Villa vs Derby County Vital Information
The playoff final will be played Monday, May 27th at 7 am PDT (10 am EDT). If you are in the US you can watch the final on ESPN+. Our friends on the other side of the pond can watch on Sky Sports.
Paul Tierney will be the man that will oversee the action in the center of the park and will be joined by Ian Hussin and Adrian Holmes as assistants. Chris Kavanagh will be the fourth official.
5 points not to be overlooked
This final has a very strong Chelsea F.C. connection with some having titled it the Chelsea Classico. John Terry, who spent the majority of his career with Chelsea, is one of Dean Smith’s assistant while leading goal-scorer Tammy Abraham is currently on loan from Chelsea. The Chelsea connection runs deeper at Derby County with Frank Lampard (Manager for Derby) having spent 13 seasons at Chelsea and scoring 211 goals and Jody Morris (Assistant Manager for Derby) who spent 7 seasons at Chelsea and coached a very successful youth team from 2014-2018. It should also be noted that Frank Lampard has been rumored with a return to Stamford Bridge to replace Maurizio Sarri as manager.
Jed Steer is a player to keep an eye on in this match as well. He came up with two big saves during the penalties to help Aston Villa to make the final but was slated to spend the entire season on loan at Charlton Athletic F.C.. He was recalled in December after Orjan Nyland suffered an achilles injury that took him out for the season. It would be phenomenal to see Steer take his team to the Premier League. If it were to happen, it would be hard not to see him with a spot on the team next season.
Jack Grealish looks to return to the Premier League after a flying start in the 2014/15 season. It was that season that saw Grealish emerge from the Villa academy and make a name for himself in the first team. During the 14/15 FA Cup run, Grealish played a role in both goals against Liverpool in the semi-final and played the entirety of the final against Arsenal. During the 15/16 season, Grealish would get relegated with Villa but has remained at his boyhood club. I would imagine that it will be hard for Villa to retain Grealish if they fail to gain promotion for the second year.
This season has not been kind to Derby County when they face Aston Villa. In the previous meetings this season, Aston Villa has won both games by an aggregate score of 7-0. In fact, you have to go back to December of 2017 to the last time that Derby County got a victory over the Villians. While the previous meeting might favor Aston Villa, this doesn’t mean that Derby County supporters should feel down about next Monday. The playoffs are a different animal and Derby have shown that they have the ability to overcome the odds. I don’t think this will be like the previous games. Derby County will put up a fight.
The matchup to watch this game will be Tammy Abraham (forward for Aston Villa) and Fikayo Tomori (defender for Derby County). These guys have grown up together in the Chelsea academy (Abraham joined in 2004 and Tomori in 2005). They both understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and movements. Both have had outstanding seasons for their clubs and will be looking to take them into the Premier League. I would also imagine that both are looking to join the Chelsea first team next season. It will be a good matchup and could decide who will be celebrating on the pitch come Monday night.
Aston Villa vs Derby County Prediction
This is a tough matchup to predict. On the podcast, I mentioned that my gut feeling was that Aston Villa would come out on top, but that Lampard has shown the ability to change the game with a sub and/or formation change. After going back and watching both semi-finals again I believe that this will be a lot tighter than I originally thought. I believe that we will see a back and forth game that ends in a 1-1 draw. Aston Villa will go through on penalties 5-4 to return to the Premier League.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1 (5-4) – Derby County 1