Fri, May 25, 4:32pm by Staff Writer
Date and Time: Sunday May 27, 2am AEST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
TV: Bein Sports
Fulham and Aston Villa will meet at Wembley in a match that will decide the fortunes of both clubs. The victor will gain promotion to the English Premier League and with it all the financial benefits of playing in one of the world’s best leagues. Whilst the loser will have to contend with another season battling in England’s second tier, hoping to make the leap next year.
A solitary goal over the two-leg semi-final from Australian Miles Jedinak sent Aston Villa through to the final. Middlesborough were unable to deny Villa the chance to stake a claim for promotion to the EPL. Having finished 4th, 5 points behind Fulham, they enter the final as underdogs priced at $3.10. Although the price is shortened to $2.10 for them to be promoted after extra time or penalties. They have to believe though that on the day they have the ability to overturn that price though, such is the nature of the playoff system.
Villa will be looking to the second highest goal scorer in the Championship this season, Lewis Grabban. In a year where he has played for both Sunderland and Villa in the Championship, he has scored an impressive 20 goals. If he can add to his tally, then Villa have the opportunity to fire themselves to glory and a return to the EPL for first time since 2016.
Fulham dropped out of the EPL in 2014 and have struggled to regain their place in the top flight. Their first two seasons in the Championship were worrying times as the club finished 17th and 20th out of 24 teams. Then under manager Slavisa Jokanovic, they appear to have turned their fortunes around with a 6th place finish last year and 3rd this season.
They now face the tricky task of overcoming Aston Villa in the final after beating Derby County in the semi-final. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi ensured that they reached the final. Sessegnon’s goal came has a double-edged sword as it gifted his club a chance to reach the EPL, but it ruled him out of the England U21s squad for the Toulon Tournament. With the final taking place on the same day as the first match of that tournament. His talent is undeniable as the winger scored 16 goals this season.
They stand as favourites at $2.25 to win the match in 90 minutes and at $1.66 to be promoted no matter whether after extra time or penalties.
A place in the EPL is at stake in this winner takes all playoff final, one side will be left distraught whilst the other ecstatic. The cruel nature of these finals brings out all the excitement needed for a football game.
Bet of the Match – Fulham 2-1 at $9.50
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