Fulham and Aston Villa meet in the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium, with the final promotion place up for grabs. After 46 games of a gruelling campaign, plus two more in the play-off semi-finals, it all comes down to one last showdown. At stake is a place in the Premier League next season, so let’s take a look at the two sides fighting to get back amongst the English elite.
Head to head
The first encounter between the two sides during the 2017-18 Championship campaign took place at Villa Park. Fulham dominated play with 68.2% of possession, moving the ball around with higher success, but it was Villa that proved more efficient when they attacked, as Steve Bruce’s side claimed a 2-1 victory with goals from John Terry and Albert Adomah.
The second meeting at Craven Cottage looked almost identical statistically, with Fulham again dominating play with 63% possession and 82% pass success, but this time they were far more clinical in front of goal, as Slavisa Jokanovic’s men ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Floyd Atité.
Ryan Sessegnon has played in every Fulham match this season in the Championship, including the play-offs, notching up a personal tally of 16 goals. Meanwhile, Albert Adomah is the leading marksman for Aston Villa, scoring 14 goals in 41 appearances. Interestingly, both are wide midfielders who make their impact from the flanks, rather than central attacking positions.
Heading into the Championship play-off final, 13/8 Anytime Goalscorer odds for Sessegnon and 14/5 for Adomah are particularly interesting prices. Both have a goal apiece in previous meetings between Fulham and Aston Villa this season, although neither are the favourites to score in the Wembley duel, with other players priced at shorter odds.
Battle for the ball
No side in the Championship has registered a higher average possession percentage this season than Fulham, but such dominance with the ball doesn’t always win games. Aston Villa have proven to be adept at winning games with minimal percentage, content to sit deep and spring forth on the counter, winning the ball in key areas and recycling possession well.
Both sides have players who proven capable of making timely interceptions, or getting stuck in and winning the ball back for their teams, making the Total Player Tackles market one to keep an eye on.
Aston Villa have arguably looked more solid throughout the campaign with Mile Jedinak operating in front of their defence. The Australian international is priced at 6/5 to have over 3 tackles in the play-off final. Fulham will be looking to Ryan Fredericks to contain Villa’s most potent scoring threat, Adomah, down his flank. The Cottagers’ right-back can expect a busy game, interestingly priced at 5/2 odds to have over three tackles during the play-off final.
Fulham are 11/8 favourites ahead of 9/4 odds for Aston Villa to secure victory at Wembley, although this could be a very tense and tightly contested encounter that could require extra-time or even penalties to decide the outcome. This makes the 90 Minutes draw option at 21/10 odds more appetising for anyone uncertain the game will swing either way before the end of normal time.