Championship Playoff Analysis

Well, Brentford have blown it. The team were on an eight-game winning streak, and needed only two points to pass West Brom and achieve automatic promotion. Both matches were against relegation candidates, Stoke City and Barnsley. Brentford lost both, ending its bid to advance without doing more. Now, Brentford are in the promotion playoffs and have another chance to make it to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history. But who is in the playoff?

Brentford – Swansea (July 26 and July 29)

Despite its recent losses, Brentford have reached new heights thanks to Danish coach Thomas Frank, and smart purchases have also helped tremendously. Ollie Watkins was bought for around $2 million from fourth-tier side Exeter City and is now the Championship’s second highest scorer. Algerian winger Saïd Benrahma was bought for under $2 million and has scored 17 goals and has nine assists and will almost definitely be sold to a top-tier team if Brentford don’t achieve promotion. They did finish third, which means that they will face sixth-placed Swansea.

However Swansea are no pushovers. Swansea were three points behind sixth-placed Nottingham Forest, who also had a goal ratio that was five better than the Swans. Swansea won 4-1 over Reading and Nottingham lost 4-1 to Stoke City, which means Swansea have a chance to return to the Premier League. This is an incredible achievement, as the Welshmen were eleventh in the table on matchday 37. If they were to make it to the Premier League, they might be in trouble. Rhian Brewster has arguably been Swansea’s best player, with ten goals since joining on loan in January, but his loan expires. If Swansea were to miraculously get promotion, they would have to look at a new striker. Edinson Cavani, anyone?

Fulham – Cardiff City (July 27 and July 30)

Fulham are the polar opposites of Brentford. They’ve been in the Premier League many times and even played Europa League soccer, and the reason the Cottagers are here is because they spent too much money on poor players. Still, Fulham are here now after going under-the-radar for majority of the season. Unfortunately for Fulham, they don’t appear to have changed much, as the club are reportedly ready to spend around $19.4 million to make Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert’s loan to Fulham permanent. He has three goals and five assists in 42 games. Benrahma cost 1/10 of that, is four years younger, and has contributed to 18 more goals.

In a move that makes my mom happy, there might be an all-Welsh playoff final! Cardiff have qualified for the playoff just a season after being relegated from the Premier League, thanks to a veteran squad where the team’s oldest player is only eight years younger than the coach. Cardiff have had a solid season but they will need to improve defensively, as the club have conceded 58 goals, more than all but one club in the top ten.

It might be good for a Welsh team to get back in the Premier League. This is the first season for a decade that a Welsh club have not been in the Premier League, and Liverpool won the league. Chaos.

No matter who gets promoted, the Premier League will continue to be a thrilling league to watch. Who are you rooting for?

Image Courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald / CC BY.

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