EFL Play-Offs Predictions & Best Bets
We've put together a massive $53* play-off multi for you to get stuck into!
The Championship - Aston Villa
Momentum, momentum, momentum. That’s the name of the game here. It’s perhaps a cliché, but momentum counts for so much in the play-offs.
In the Championship, Leeds United may have finished 3rd, but Aston Villa are my clear favourites to win the play-offs. Few will forget Villa’s defeat at Wembley last year at the hands of Fulham, but they look well-equipped to go one better this time around.
Dean Smith’s men enter the play-offs on the back of 10 wins from 12, and face a West Brom outfit in the semi-finals who have been treading water in the upper echelons of the league for months.
Villa are the best of the four sides, and should they make it to the final, I’d be confident of them beating the technically inferior Derby or the ostensibly fragile Leeds.
League One - Charlton Athletic
The League One play-offs look absolutely fascinating.
While most were enjoying Portsmouth and Sunderland’s four-way promotion battle with Luton and Barnsley, Charlton’s run of two defeats since December saw them ghost into 3rd place at the eleventh hour, securing Doncaster as their next opponents – leaving Pompey and The Black Cats to do battle in the semis.
Lee Bowyer’s men have won seven of their last eight matches, and the only side capable of stopping them, in my opinion, are Portsmouth in the final.
Pompey have already tasted glory at Wembley this season, of course—beating Sunderland on penalties in the EFL Trophy final—but Charlton’s solidity, which saw them keep seven clean sheets in their last nine matches, might prove the difference.
League Two - Newport County
Finally, in League Two, I’m backing Newport to reach the English third-tier for the first time in their history.
Michael Flynn’s men went 10 unbeaten to round the season off, qualifying for the top seven with an 87th minute equaliser at Morecambe on the last day. They face Mansfield in the semi-finals, who suffered final day agony against MK Dons, falling out of the automatic promotion places after suffering three consecutive defeats. There’s no doubt Mansfield have had a stronger season overall, but if The Stags falter at Rodney Parade—a place where Newport have kept 10 clean sheets from their last 12—then my money is on the Welsh side to go all the way.
Forest Green or Tranmere are their prospective opponents in the final, and while they’re both arguably stronger sides than Newport on paper, there’s not enough in it to vehemently claim they’ll overcome beat The Exiles.
Newport $4.50* outsiders for promotion, but the propulsion at which they burst into the play-offs gives them as good a chance as anyone, and look a cracking value bet for this treble.