Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
With sides just 90 minutes from a trip to Wembley, the stakes are high heading into the midweek Championship games. We have playoff second-leg clashes at the Hawthorns and Elland Road with a place in the final on the line. With both first legs being settled by a single goal, they’re still incredibly close. As the last week in football has shown us, things can turn in an instant.
With two huge playoff clashes to come on Tuesday and Wednesday, we’re looking over the recent matches and the games to come. We’re also taking a look at the latest promotion odds in the aftermath of the narrow first-leg wins, along with analysis of each second leg.
First Leg Reaction
Saturday’s opening clash saw a turnaround for Aston Villa and an eventful day for Dwight Gayle. West Brom took the lead through the Newcastle loanee in the first half, which seemed promising given that West Brom hadn’t lost after taking the lead in a Championship game this season. However, they haven’t met many sides as good as this Villa outfit. A second-half tweak saw Villa take back control, which led to a star turn by Jack Grealish. He was heavily involved as Villa pulled off a 2-1 home win.
Later that day, Leeds were able to pull off a 1-0 victory at Pride Park in controversial circumstances. Kemar Roofe scored the only goal of the game, converting with a great finish from a whipped cross from the left. However, Derby had a penalty awarded with 14 minutes to play, only for the assistant referee to persuade the referee otherwise. That seems to have ended Derby’s chances, no side has ever come back from a home defeat to make the final at this level.
Latest Promotion Betting
Obviously, that’s changed the betting for promotion, with a clear divide now formed. Leeds are the frontrunners, as they can be found at 11/8 with BetVictor to claim a Premier League place. Their 1-0 away win has put them in a strong position, especially given how history favours them going to Wembley from here. Things aren’t as clear cut for Aston Villa in their semi-final, but they can be found at 6/4 with Betfair to go up this term.
Given that West Brom have home advantage this week, they’re a long-shot for promotion. The Baggies are priced up at 7/1 with bet365 to make the top flight. That’s a huge price, but with caretaker boss James Shan’s lack of experience showing, they aren’t that fancied to get past the first hurdle in the playoffs. The four are rounded off with Derby, now out at 12/1 with bet365 to defy history and win the playoff final. It’s been a long wait for Derby to return to the Premier League, but it seems like they’re going to have to contend with another second-tier season.
West Brom vs Aston Villa
The fight for Wembley comes down to this clash at the Hawthorns, but can Villa protect their win? They’re likely to set up with the same 4-1-4-1 which edged the second half for the Villains. They are surely in two minds ahead of this one; do they protect their lead or try to add to it? There’s no away goals rule in the playoffs but the Villains could put this tie to bed with an early strike.
Given that their big weekend switch was the introduction of holding midfielder Conor Hourihane, they should look for a conservative start. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be goals. This West Brom side like to attack at any opportunity, expect them to double down when they need to overturn a defeat. That leaves Villa with the chance to pick them off on the counter, something Hourihane allows them to do.
Villa need to protect their lead early on, but West Brom have only scored 6% of their goals in the opening 15 minutes. The bookies are clearly with the visitors to make it, as Villa are 1/3 with BetVictor to qualify. Meanwhile, West Brom are 5/2 with William Hill to turn this tie around. However, the hosts have just one win at home to the top seven this season, so we’ve backed against them in our West Brom vs Aston Villa match predictions. On top of backing a high scoring affair, while we’ve gone for the Villains to win 2-1 at 19/2 with BetVictor.
Leeds vs Derby
Leeds edged their meeting with Derby at Pride Park, taking a 1-0 win back for the second leg. That sets them up for Wednesday’s clash, with Derby needing to overturn history in order to swing this tie. The Rams also need to secure a win at a Leeds side who have beaten them three times already this term. It’s a major test for Frank Lampard.
The hosts are back up and running, clearly now over their failure in the automatic promotion race. They seem to have a great chance to make up for it here, especially given that they’re now 1/10 with bet365 to make the next round. Meanwhile, Derby are 13/2 with Betfair to qualify for the final, which comes as no surprise given their head to head record. Leeds have won 7-1 across the three meetings, having clearly worked Frank Lampard’s side out.
It would take a huge comeback from the Rams to secure a place in the final. That’s obviously not impossible, but we think that Leeds just have too much for their opponents here. We’ve gone with the hosts in our Leeds vs Derby match predictions. We’re also going with a 2-0 home win for Leeds at 8/1 with BetVictor.
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