Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Championship Final preview: Aston Villa v. Derby County

Leave a comment

Nineteen spots in the 2019-20 Premier League season have been clinched, and Monday will see the final berth awarded to either Derby County or Aston Villa.

It’s the richest game in football, and two historic English clubs will see it as their way back to a rightful place in the top flight.

[ MORE: Everton adds Lossl ]

Aston Villa was a mainstay of the PL for the first 24 years of the league’s existence, but has spent three seasons in the Championship.

Derby County has spent seven years in the top flight across two separate spells, and twice won the top flight in the 1970s.

Separated by just two points on the table this season, fifth place Villa beat Derby decisively in both league matches.

Three different scorers marked their names in the 3-0 decision at Pride Park in November before Villa bettered the score line with a 4-0 triumph at home on March 2.

Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson has been the scoring star for Frank Lampard‘s Rams, bagging 15 goals. Fellow loanee Mason Mount of Chelsea has also been key with eight goals and five assists, while Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn have chipped in plenty.

Another Chelsea loanee, Tammy Abraham, is the clear threat for Villa, having potted 26 goals this season. Transfer market mainstay Jack Grealish has been in focus, too, for Dean Smith’s men. Smith is becoming just as big a star, having charged Villa up the table since taking over in October.

Monday morning’s match will change the fortunes and legacies of many players and both managers. And Lampard is already being tipped as a possible Chelsea boss.

Everton adds keeper depth with Lossl

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Everton has added goalkeeping depth beyond Jordan Pickford.

Danish keeper Jonas Lossl will sign a three-year contract with the Toffees on July 1, staying in the Premier League after his release from Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup rewind ]

Lossl, 30, was initially on loan to the Terriers from Bundesliga outfit Mainz, but the deal was made permanent before last season.

The Dane had an outstanding loan campaign but wasn’t as strong this season as the Terriers were mowed down by Premier League competition and relegated to the Championship.

He was one of five players released by Huddersfield earlier this month.

Pickford also had a rough season between the sticks for Everton, but played all 38 Premier League matches for the club. Maarten Stekelenburg was his backup.

Why Aston Villa deserve Premier League promotion

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 27, the richest game in soccer will see one of Aston Villa or Derby County promoted to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest Championship news ]

Which club deserves a spot in the English top-flight, and the estimated minimum $120 million it will generate, more?

You can use metrics such as fanbase, stadiums, players, historical success and quality of coaches to try and sort this out, but the fact of the matter is, the playoffs are always a complete, and utterly brilliant, lottery.

The path Villa and Derby took to get to the final this season proves that.

Here’s a look at why Villa deserve to return to the PL after a three-year absence, while tomorrow we will focus on Derby…


Everything about Villa is a Premier League club.

Their incredible home at Villa Park is among the most historic and boisterous in England when it gets going and the Holte End is the jewel in its crown.

European champions in 1982, Villa are the biggest club from England’s second-city, Birmingham, and their fanbase is loyal, if not overly pessimistic as most Brummies are. The fact that there are no PL teams from Birmingham is astonishing. It is like having no top level sports teams in LA.

For three years they’ve now fought to get back into the top-flight after several seasons of struggle as former American owner Randy Lerner cut costs wherever he could. Under manager Dean Smith, a lifelong Villa fan who took charge midseason, they now play wonderfully attractive soccer and have youngsters like Jack Grealish, Andre Green and Tammy Abraham leading the way.

Previous manager Steve Bruce was known for his pragmatism and trusting veterans to be steady in pressure situations. All of that is out of the window at Villa Park, assistant coach John Terry alongside Smith to provide some steel to their flamboyant possession-based style.

Villa would be fun to watch if they were promoted to the Premier League. That much is sure. They’ll concede a lot of goals, but they would score a ton too.

There is also the potential for Villa to emulate Wolverhampton Wanderers. Seriously.

Their ownership group has strengthened in recent months with Chinese businessman Tony Xi selling 55 percent of his stake in the club to Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and American billionaire Wes Edens.

If Villa come up the financial fair play shackles which restricted them in the Championship in recent years will come off. The potential for them to spend big is there, but they have a team full of players on loan from PL clubs who have formed a bond and could likely be kept together and bought permanently this summer.

Quite simply, Villa are a top 10 team in the Premier League. They have suffered due to Lerner’s decision to pull out his investment but they have now rebuilt themselves with a strong core of young talent and have a manager in place who is progressive and ambitious both with his style of play and where Villa can get to in the PL.

Under Bruce, Villa lost to Fulham in the playoff final last season at Wembley. But with local lad Grealish leading their charge there is a sense that failure last year was a blessing in disguise. This Villa side are young and hungry and they are exciting to watch.

That is why Villa deserve to be promoted to the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

Man Utd set to add $20M Swans winger James

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United’s first signing of the summer will be a Welsh international forward, but not that one, presuming the clubs sort out the transfer fee.

Swansea City winger Daniel James has agreed to terms with United, according to Sky Sports.

The 21-year-old is expected to cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men about $20 million.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

James scored five times with 10 assists for Graham Potter in all competitions this season, totaling 2800 minutes for Swans.

Only Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was fouled more per game than James, who was taken to the turf 2.7 times per match. He mostly played on the left wing this season.

Twice-capped by Wales, James turns 22 in November. How long will it take him to make the jump from Championship star to Premier League contributor?

USMNT midfielder Williams not retained by Huddersfield Town

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Danny Williams‘ tenure with the Terriers is complete.

The 30-year-old German American midfielder was one of five players released by Huddersfield Town on Friday, days after their final Premier League match.

[ MORE: Williams with our own JPW ]

Williams was a significant factor in the Terriers’ beating the drop in 2017-18, but injuries and a coaching change combined to limit him to just six appearance this season.

He scored an FA Cup goal for Huddersfield last season, but made just one start before suffering a knee injury in his sophomore campaign.

Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl and forward Laurent Depoitre were two other notable names not retained by Huddersfield, who also axed Erik Durm and Jack Payne.