Aston Villa v Derby predictions & expected XIs for the Championship play-off final
Aston Villa and Derby County face each other on Bank Holiday Monday with a place in the Premier League at stake.
Villa beat West Bromwich Albion on penalties in the semi-finals, while Derby County saw off promotion favourites Leeds United 4-3 on aggregate.
Read on for Aston Villa v Derby County live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.
When is Aston Villa vs Derby County?
Competition: Championship play-offs
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Date: Monday, 27 May
Kick-off: 3:00 PM BST
Where can I watch live?
UK residents can watch Aston Villa v Derby on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football, channels 401 and 403 respectively on Sky, and channels 501 and 503 respectively for Virgin Media users.
In the two previous Championship fixtures this season, Villa have beat Derby by an aggregate score of 7-0. And that form has been in keeping with the historic record between the two sides. Aston Villa lead the way with 71 wins to Derby’s 44, with 25 draws.
Aston Villa wins: 71 Draws: 25 Derby wins: 44
Dubbed the richest game in football, the Championship play-off final has so much on the line for both Aston Villa and Derby County.
When Dean Smith took charge of Villa in October, they looked destined for another year in England’s second-tier and far away from the Premier League. But his arrival turned the Villans into an oft-unstoppable team including a 10-game winning run between March and April which saw the team move up from 13th to fifth.
The run was so vital that even failing to win the final two games did not jeopardise Villa’s play-off hopes, where they fought hard to beat Midland rivals West Bromwich Albion.
On the other side of things, Derby are looking to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2008, when they bowed out as the worst team in the competition’s history. The Rams have been the nearly men so many times in the play-offs but finally they have reached the showcase game, led by Frank Lampard in his first year as a manager.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for the former Chelsea midfielder and many expected Derby to bow out at the semi-finals when Leeds went 2-0 up on aggregate, but the Rams have shown fight and will be hoping for another upset come Monday.
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Will this be Lampard’s final Derby game?
Though there is still some debate over Lampard’s qualities as a manager, given the infancy of his career, his exploits at Derby have caught the eye of one club in particular.
According to reports, Lampard’s former club Chelsea are looking at the Derby boss to replace Maurizio Sarri in the summer, regardless of whether he gets the Rams promoted or not.
Lampard is a clear favourite of the fans for the promise of finally bringing through young players at Chelsea, after the work he has done with loanees Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount this season.
But Lampard is ignoring any links ahead of the biggest game of his managerial career so far.
“I said it a few months ago. I find it quite difficult because we’ve got games coming up and they’ve got a manager in Sarri,” Lampard told reporters.
“It has been a bit of an obvious link all season.
“I understand the link but I don’t want to think about it or talk about it. I want to think about Monday. My focus is on us.
“This club [Derby] gave me an opportunity. I’m grateful for that and I want to finish the season as well as I can.
“I’ve got two years left on my contract. I’ll sit down with Mel [Morris, Derby chairman] after Monday, which was planned anyway, to see where the club goes forward.”
Can Aston Villa learn from 2018’s heartbreak?
While Derby are enjoying a first play-off final since 2014, Aston Villa return to Wembley after just one year. In 2018, then managed by Steve Bruce, Villa were beaten finalists in the play-offs, losing 1-0 to Fulham.
Then, Villa were too conservative against a Fulham side with promise in attack and went behind in the first half to a Tom Cairney goal. When Villa finally started to attack it proved to be too late, with Fulham’s defence holding firm and earning their place in the Premier League.
But if this season is anything to go by, there will be no danger of Villa holding back against Derby – who have obvious defensive weaknesses to target.
In the standard Championship season, only Norwich City and West Brom scored more goals than Aston Villa’s 82, while Derby averaged 1.17 goals conceded per game.
The Villans will be reliant on Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham to cause havoc on the Derby defence, and with the pair combining to score 32 goals – Abraham leading the way with 26 – Villa can control the game.
Aston Villa have been boosted by the fitness of Axel Tuanzebe, who has recovered from a minor ankle injury suffered in their semi-final second leg against West Brom. But Dean Smith will definitely be without Orjan Nyland, Thomas Carroll and Jordan Lyden.
Meanwhile, Derby will be without Scott Malone after the full-back’s red card at Elland Road, as well as Curtis Davies and Craig Forysth.
1. Glenn Whelan keeps his spot
When Glenn Whelan made an error in the semi-final first leg against West Brom, it was predicted the Irishman would not start the return fixture.
But start he did, in midfield alongside John McGinn and Jack Grealish in a three-man midfield, and that is exactly what we expect to happen on Monday.
The former Stoke City man will help Villa control the midfield, and frustrate Derby’s creative players, as Leeds did so well in their first leg.
Further up the pitch, Albert Adomah may just get the nod ahead of Andre Green to join Anwar El Ghazi and Tammy Abraham in attack.
Predicted Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Steer; Taylor, Tuanzebe, Mings, Elmohamady; Whelan, McGinn, Grealish (c); Adomah, Abraham, El Ghazi.
2. Ashley Cole to get another Wembley appearance
In the semi-final second leg against Leeds, Frank Lampard made a bold move in taking Duane Holmes off for Jack Marriott just before half-time. It paid off with Marriott scoring twice as Derby came from behind to secure their final spot and Lampard could now trust his substitute from the start against Villa.
Elsewhere, it looks as though Ashley Cole will get another Wembley appearance at left-back as a replacement for the suspended Malone, while Tom Huddlestone could come in to provide a more solid cover for the defence.
Predicted Derby XI (4-2-3-1): Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Cole; Johnson, Huddlestone; Wilson, Mount, Lawrence; Marriott.
3. Kodjia gets the nod on the right
The biggest spot in contention for Aston Villa on Monday will be who starts up front alongside Abraham and El Ghazy.
Green and Adomah have split that role between them over recent weeks, but Birmingham Mail’s Mat Kendrick – speaking to the Derby Telegraph – believes neither still start at Wembley.
Instead, it is predicted that Jonathan Kodjia will be included from the off to cause problems down Derby’s left-hand side, potentially targeting the ageing Ashley Cole.
Birmingham Mail‘s predicted Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Steer; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor; Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish; Kodjia, Abraham, El Ghazi.
4. Holmes to keep his place
Although Lampard’s bold move paid off, Duane Holmes must have felt dejected in seeing his number on the substitute board just before half-time.
But that should not stop Holmes from starting in the play-off final against Aston Villa, according to the Daily Express.
They have predicted the American to start in midfield alongside Bradley Johnson, with Mason Mount continuing in his more attacking role.
Daily Express‘ predicted Derby XI (4-2-3-1): Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Cole; Johnson, Holmes; Wilson, Mount, Lawrence; Marriott.
Derby have rolled over for Aston Villa in the past two games this season, but there’s something about this Lampard team that have proven themselves in the play-offs. It will be close, but Derby may just nick it. 2-1 Derby.