Aston Villa needed a full 210 minutes and penalties to make it past West Brom in the play-off semi-final, but ultimately, they deserved to qualify for the showpiece final at Wembley, creating the better chances over the two legs, with an expected goals (xG) rating of 2.83 in their favour, over the Baggies’ 1.48.
Dean Smith will be hoping he can do what Steve Bruce failed to do last season, and win the play-off final, but there is no doubt that last year’s disappointment will stand this Villa squad in good stead here.
According to expected goals, Aston Villa rightly finished fifth in the table, and sit a place higher when looking at the xG table since Dean Smith took over, so their surge into the play-off places was warranted.
The quality they have in their ranks is undeniable, especially going forward, while defensively they have been solid during 2018/19, as they have a great balance in their team.
Aston Villa v Derby shot maps from 2018/19 season
It is worth pointing out that the aggregate score of the two league games between Aston Villa and Derby this season is 7-0 in Villa’s favour, with the aggregate xG reading 4.99 – 1.12 to Villa.
They were extremely dominant in both matches, creating plenty of chances while conceding very few, so clearly have Derby’s number, and will be looking for a hat-trick of wins against the Rams.
Derby’s comeback against Leeds in the last round was remarkable, and one which very few saw coming, especially to that extent, as they beat Leeds 4-2 in front of their own fans.
Over the two legs though, the Rams were very fortunate to qualify, with it being Leeds who created the better of the chances (two leg xG: Leeds 2.89 v 2.21 Derby). The Rams were especially disappointing in the first leg on their own turf, generating just 0.22 xG to Leeds’ 0.87.
And, according to expected goals, Derby were very fortunate to have even made the Play-Offs at all, with Frank Lampard’s team ranking as only the 13th best team in the league this season based on the stats.
They have been flattered in attack this season, scoring 17 more goals than would be expected based on the chances created, netting 73 times from just 56.2 expected goals for (xGF).
Average xGD per game in Championship 2018/19
While Derby possess talented individuals to rival those at Villa, they are heavily reliant on moments of individual quality, and not a process, and this is shown by the fact that they have created just 34 ‘big’ chances (35% or greater) in 48 games (excluding penalties).
They will no doubt have periods in this game where they are in the ascendancy, but they may struggle to make those them count.
Aston Villa vs Derby Pre-match probabilities
Aston Villa are the superior team in this final, with their underlying play is much better than Derby’s. They are the better attacking and defensive team, though the fact that play-off finals are usually very cagey games with few goals will count against them.
Paddy Power give Villa around a 43% chance of winning in 90 minutes, with the Infogol model rating Villa’s chances as 54%, so there is plenty of value in backing the Villans to get the win here at 11/10.
The single greatest goal threat in this game is Tammy Abraham. The Chelsea-loanee has notched 27 goals for Aston Villa in the Championship, and when looking at expected goals per 90 minutes, which takes into account the quality of chances he has been on the end of, Abraham is averaging 0.60 xG every game.
That is 0.32 more than next best Jonathan Kodjia, so it is no surprise that he is fancied to get on the scoresheet here, and chancing Abraham to open the scoring is the selection at 16/5 is worthwhile.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Derby failing to notch here against this stubborn Villa defence, and with Aston Villa fancied to win at a decent price, this could be another tight Play-Off Final encounter.
Villa to take the lead and then pick Derby off late on the break looks likely to us, so a 2-0 correct score longshot is recommended at 17/2.
- Aston Villa to win @ 11/10
- First Goalscorer: Tammy Abraham @ 16/5
- Correct Score: 2-0 to Villa @ 17/2
*All odds correct at time of posting