There is one place remaining in the Premier League next season and it will be filled on Sunday afternoon when Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest battle it out in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium.
Huddersfield have been here before and got the job done whereas Forest have been fighting for 23 years to return to the top flight and are finally within one win of ending their exile. They dub this the richest game in football for a reason. The stakes are massive.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels. The build-up to the final begins at 3.30pm ahead of a 4.30pm kick off at Wembley.
Usually I would always be pleased whenever the team that finished one outside the automatic places makes the final of any play-offs but given that Huddersfield Town beat my team in the semi-finals those feelings are a little mixed this time around! It does show that their third placed finish in the regular season was genuine and that they are worthy of their place in this final, although they were second best for long periods of that semi-final.
In many ways that was perfect Huddersfield because they are not a team who control matches but when they get within a sight of the opposition goal they generally make it count and then rely on their defence and top notch keeper to get them over the line. It will be interesting to see how Huddersfield cope with this test but the one thing we do know is they have a good history of the play-offs and there are some players in their ranks who have been involved in them before.
I think it is fair to say that in the second half of the season there hasn’t been a better team in the Sky Bet Championship than Nottingham Forest. They are good to watch, vibrant and look to get at teams but they are playing with the weight of history on their shoulders in this match and we saw towards the end of their semi-final that it is easy to be weighed down by such a thing. Really, Forest should have cruised through to Wembley but all of a sudden they fell in a heap.
The big thing for Nottingham Forest is to take the emotion out of the game here. If they let that come into play then they are lightly to be weighed down and make life difficult for themselves. If they can impose themselves on Huddersfield then they will give themselves a good chance of success. It goes without saying that they need the first goal. Huddersfield are going to play with a low block which will only get deeper and stronger if they go in front.
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Sorba Thomas came off the bench in both legs of the semi-final win over Luton and with almost two weeks since then it is expected that he will have had enough time to build up to full fitness and start this game. Matty Pearson is less likely to be involved.
Nottingham Forest forward Keinan Davis was used from the bench in both semi-final legs and Steve Cooper should have him available for selection from the start here. He will decide between Davis and Sam Surridge ahead of the game.
This promises to be an interesting final. We have one side in Huddersfield Town who have been here and done it all before and who can keep it tight and either nick something on a counterattack or through a set play and then on the other side we have Nottingham Forest who are much the better of the two teams in terms of the number of match winners they have in their side and the style of football they adopt, but who can be guilty of flattering to deceive on the big occasion or struggling to handle pressure.
I’ll be fascinated to see how this one plays out. We’ve seen a couple of one-sided finals in the play-offs so far but one was a mismatch on paper and the other became it when one of the teams were a man down after half an hour. I don’t expect that to be the case here and with both teams likely to be able to adopt the style they like to play with I fancy both teams can score in this final. Forest will dominate the play and you’ve got to think at some point they’ll get in. Luton could have had four or five against Huddersfield in the semi-final. At the other end there is a lot of space to exploit on the counter so chances should come regularly and as such I’ll back both teams to find the back of the net.
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