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Lost and Won: Aston Villa vs Derby

Aston Villa and Derby County will clash this weekend as they bid to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The two sides finished fifth and sixth in the Championship respectively but Dean Smith and Frank Lampard will lock horns at Wembley in a bid to reach the rarefied air of the top-flight.

Villa have not been in the Premier League since 2016, while Derby dropped through the trapdoor in 2008.

How will the clash be settled, then? Football FanCast takes a look at where the game will be lost and won.

The key battle – Grealish vs Tomori

Jack Grealish has been in genuinely superb form this season and has inspired the club to the final.

Villa embarked on a 10-game unbeaten run following the attacking midfielder’s return from injury, having been on a five-game winless run prior.

His direct dribbling and ability to spot a pass could prove vital to Smith’s team; he has laid on two assists in the play-offs, both of which came in the first leg against West Bromwich Albion.

Fikayo Tomori, the on-loan Chelsea defender, could be given the job of marking Grealish out of the game.

A gifted defender, he won the club’s Player of the Year award and has missed just one Championship match thus far this term.

The key dynamic – Loanees vs Loanees

Both Villa and Derby have a number of players on short-term deals.

Villa, in particular, have five stars on loan – Axel Tuanzebe (from Manchester United), Tammy Abraham (from Chelsea), Anwar El Ghazi (from Lille), Kortney Hause (from Wolves) and Tyrone Mings (from Bournemouth).

Abraham, in particular, has been brilliant, scoring 26 goals in 41 appearances and firing the club into the play-offs. He scored in the first leg against West Brom.

The Rams, too, have Tomori and Mason Mount from Chelsea and Harry Wilson from Liverpool.

The latter two have scored a combined total of 29 goals this season – 11 and 18 respectively – while both laying on six assists.

It remains to be seen how many players can be kept for next season but they will certainly play a key role at Wembley.

The result may ultimately spin on which loanee performs best.

The deciding factor – Pressure

This is a massive, massive game.

Villa and Derby are each 90 minutes away from the Premier League but neither were ever really in contention to win automatic promotion to the top-flight.

If Villa fail, they will surely have to sell Grealish, with Tottenham Hotspur potential suitors.

If Derby fail, they may well lose all of their loanees, along with Lampard, who is sure to be a candidate for a number of top-flight jobs as they become available.

There can be nothing more riding on this encounter; whoever deals with it best will win promotion.

The impact subs – Jedinak vs Huddlestone

Experience is key.

Both sides have a number of exceptional young players but both Tom Huddlestone and Mile Jedinak, players with Premier League experience, will be vital, particularly if their respective side is winning.

They can be the calming influence, keeping their heads while all around them may be in danger of losing theirs.

After all, they may not get too many more chances to play in the Premier League again.

Article title: Lost and Won: Aston Villa vs Derby

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