Aston Villa and Fulham meet at Wembley on Saturday and Tom Carnduff has 17/10 and two 5/1 best bets for the play-off final.
Aston Villa v Fulham recommended bets
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Aston Villa v Fulham (Sky Bet Championship play-off final, Sky Sports Main Event, 1715 BST)
The Sky Bet Championship season reaches its conclusion at Wembley on Saturday evening as Aston Villa and Fulham meet in what is labelled as 'the richest game in football'.
The wealth of the Premier League awaits the successful side, with the winner benefiting from future additional revenue of at least £160m across the next three seasons, which could rise to in excess of £280m if they survive their first season in the top flight.
Fulham find themselves as the 8/11 favourites to finish the day as a Premier League outfit and for me it's difficult to look past Slavisa Jokanovic's men.
They went on a 23-game unbeaten run before a shock defeat to Birmingham on the final day prevented them from achieving automatic promotion.
Fulham may have lost the first leg of their play-off semi-final as well, but bounced back magnificently with a 2-0 home win against Derby to secure a Wembley spot.
Aleksander Mitrovic has been exceptional since joining the club from Newcastle on loan in January, and despite netting 12 goals in 17 league games for the Cottagers, a biggest price of 17/10 is available on him to strike anytime in the game.
Alongside the Serbian forward (pictured, above), I like the look of the 5/1 price available on Stefan Johansen to score against Villa.
Johansen has been a regular for Jokanovic this season, featuring in all but one of their 48 Championship games in 2017/18.
Despite playing in midfield, he is the club's third top scorer with eight goals and eight assists, so there is a chance that he will be amongst the goals if they are to come on Saturday.
He has found the net against Cardiff and Aston Villa so far, whilst also contributing assists in wins over Wolves, Derby and Sheffield United, showing he is a player for the big occasion.
- Fulham are featuring in their first ever play-off final, having previously lost in the semi-finals in 1988/89 (third-tier), 1997/98 (third-tier) and 2016/17 (second-tier), while Aston Villa have reached the final in their first ever play-off campaign.
- Steve Bruce is set to manage in his third play-off final – he has been promoted in both of his previous two, progressing on penalties in 2001-02 as Birmingham manager against Norwich and beating Sheffield Wednesday with Hull in 2015-16.
- Indeed, he’s the third manager to manage in three play-off finals in the second tier, after Brian Little (three finals between 1991-92 and 1993-94) and Ian Holloway (2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
- Bruce has won four promotions to the top-flight (2001-02, 2006-07, 2012-13 and 2015-16), a joint-record with Neil Warnock, who achieved his fourth this season with Cardiff.
- These sides both claimed a win apiece in their Championship meetings this season, with Villa winning 2-1 at Villa Park in October and Fulham winning 2-0 at Craven Cottage in February.
- The Cottagers are playing just their second match at Wembley – they lost their previous visit in the 1975 FA Cup final against West Ham.
- Fulham’s gap of 15,279 days between playing their first and second matches at Wembley is the third longest in history, after Brentford (19,915 – November 1930 to June 1985) and Southend United (30,073 – December 1930 to April 2013).
- In Fulham’s semi-final second leg against Derby, Ryan Sessegnon became the youngest scorer in the history of the second-tier play-offs (17y 360d). The youngest player to score in a second-tier play-off final is Julian Joachim (18y 253d), who scored for Leicester City against Swindon Town in May 1993.
- Only Matej Vydra (21) has scored more Championship goals than Lewis Grabban (20) this season – however, Grabban has played six Championship play-off games previously and failed to score in any, featuring in the 2015 final for Norwich and last season’s final for Reading.
- Robert Snodgrass and Ahmed Elmohamady featured in the 2016 Championship play-off final for Steve Bruce’s victorious Hull side – Snodgrass assisted Mohamed Diame’s winning goal.
- The team scoring first in the Championship play-off final has gone on to win promotion on each of the last six occasions in which the final hasn’t been goalless – the last time a team failed to win having scored first was Cardiff City in 2010 against Blackpool.
It might also be worth exploring the stats betting here, as Fulham are a side who have shown their strength in attack.
Their last five games have seen an average of 15 shots from the team in white, 20 coming in the 2-0 second-leg victory over Derby.
As expected, most of the Fulham side are priced below even money to have a shot on target, but I like the look of Tom Cairney to have 2+ shots on target at 5/1.
The influential midfielder has had five shots on target in his last three outings, and he has proved that he is more than capable of finding the net during his time at the club.
This should be an entertaining game, and both sides have proven that they are capable of picking up results away from home.
Fulham have been the second-best away team in the division with 41 points from 23 games, whilst Aston Villa sit fifth in the away standings with ten wins and four draws in the same amount of games.
Premier League official Anthony Taylor will be the referee for this one in only his second Sky Bet Championship game this season.
His 38 games in all competitions have seen an average of 40 booking points, with his last 'major' game being the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Tottenham, where seven yellow cards were shown.
There's little value in backing booking points by itself, with 10/11 available on there to be 50+.
That's why going down the route of backing individual players to be shown a card, which might be the better option if bookings are more your thing.
Robert Snodgrass (pictured, above) is Villa's most carded player this season with 11, including two in the semi-finals, he is a best price of 11/4 to be shown a card by Taylor.
Best bet: Aleksander Mitrovic to score anytime at 17/10
Alternative bet: Stefan Johansen to score anytime at 5/1
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Odds correct at 1220 BST (24/05/18)