Aston Villa, like they were this time last season, are just one win away from a return to the Premier League after three long and arduous seasons in the Championship.
Villa fell at the final hurdle last year as they were beaten 1-0 by Fulham, but there is much more optimism in the air this time around than there was 12 months ago.
Back then Villa were playing defensive and boring football under Steve Bruce, but Dean Smith has got them playing attacking football that has seen them win 11, draw one and lose just two of their last 14 matches.
Frank Lampard’s Derby might have just scraped into the play-offs and might have been beaten by Villa 3-0 and 4-0 during the season, but their second leg performance against Leeds shows that Smith’s men cannot afford to show any complacency.
Here is our predicted Villa XI for tomorrow’s play-off final:
GK: Jed Steer
After his penalty heroics in the semi-final against West Brom there’s no way that Steer won’t be starting in goal.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady
Elmohamady has been in fine form as of late and will certainly be starting on Monday.
CB: Tyrone Mings
As Villa’s best defender, Mings will be one of the first names on Dean Smith’s teamsheet.
CB: Axel Tuanzebe
Tuanzebe has formed a great partnership with Mings, so we expect him to start tomorrow afternoon.
LB: Neil Taylor
Some Villa fans are calling for Kourtney Hause to start at left-back, but we reckon Smith will stick with Taylor.
RM: Andre Green
Adomah offered nothing in the two legs of the semi-final against West Brom, so we expect to see Green start on the right flank.
CM: Conor Hourihane
It’s a toss up between Whelan and Hourihane, but we reckon that Smith will go for the more attacking option.
CM: John McGinn
McGinn has had a fantastic season for Villa and will certainly be starting tomorrow afternoon.
CM: Jack Grealish
As Villa’s best player, there is absolutely no way that Grealish won’t be starting tomorrow against Derby.
LM: Anwar El Ghazi
El Ghazi has been playing well as of late so we expect to see him start on the left flank tomorrow.
ST: Tammy Abraham
There’s no way that Smith will be leaving out Villa’s top goalscorer.
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