368 days after the 2019-20 Championship season began, Brentford and Fulham do battle in the Play-Off Final at Wembley for a spot in next season’s Premier League.
With £170m, a Premier League spot and local pride at stake, this 2020 Championship Play-Off Final promises to be a match like no other with so much at stake in possibly the ultimate West London derby.
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Nikos Karelis is Brentford’s only absentee with a long-term knee injury as Bees boss, Thomas Frank considers naming an unchanged starting line-up from their second leg semi-final comeback against Swansea.
Fulham could be without Neeskens Kebano after the winger was subbed at half time in the Cottagers’ second leg loss against Cardiff with a hamstring injury.
Aleksandar Mitrovic missed both legs with a hamstring injury of his own yet is still a doubt, although he could begin the match on the bench if passes a late fitness test.
- This is only the second Championship Play-Off Final to feature a London derby, after West Ham defeated Crystal Palace in 2003-04 Championship Play-Off Final.
- Brentford have lost all three previous Play-Off Final appearances in 1997, 2002 and 2013 respectively, scoring once and conceding five across those three outings.
- Fulham have won their only previous Play-Off Final appearance which came in May 2018, having previously lost three previous play-offs at the semi-final stage.
- None of Brentford’s last 11 goals against Fulham have come from a defender since Jack O’ Connell scored in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage in December 2015.
- Only four of last ten Championship Play-Off Finals has seen both teams score, with the team who scored first winning on three out of four occasions.
Fulham need at least one if not both of Kebano or Mitrovic to be fit even if start the match on the bench, otherwise I feel that this could be a rough final for the Cottagers unless Bobby Reid or Ivan Cavaleiro can step up and deliver when it matters.
Brentford however do seem to have a Play-Off Final hoodoo lingering over them which is a concern (or gift from a Fulham perspective), particularly after how they failed to shake off their Stoke hoodoo when it mattered near the end of regular season.
I therefore am expecting a tough encounter given everything that is at stake because if Fulham play as tight as they did at home against Cardiff, Brentford could find themselves frustrated but something tells me that this is Brentford’s time with a new stadium on horizon.
Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Fulham
Result: Brentford 1-2 Fulham (AET – Fulham are PROMOTED!!!)