We’re on the midway stage of the Championship playoff semi-finals and we’re starting to get a really feel for who can be becoming a member of Norwich and Watford within the Premier League subsequent season.
Bournemouth took on Brentford on the Vitality Stadium whereas Swansea travelled to face Barnsley and as if the monumentally excessive stakes weren’t sufficient, the return of followers of their numbers added to the strain.
Having pushed the highest two all the way in which and completed robust in third place, Brentford have been many individuals’s favourites heading into the playoffs, however their hopes have been hit by Jonathan Woodgate’s resurgent Bournemouth who edged to a 1-0 victory.
Brentford noticed extra of the ball than their hosts, however the Cherries have been nicely drilled and environment friendly with the possession that they had. They broke on the favoured guests with regularity and took the lead ten minutes into the second half when Arnaut Danjuma coolly completed off a counter-attack.
The Bees ought to have equalised via Bryan Mbeumo however the Frenchman one way or the other despatched one vast on the again publish and left his group questioning what on earth they must do to get promoted to the Premier League.
As for the opposite recreation, Swansea weren’t fairly again to their greatest at Barnsley however Steve Cooper’s group knew what they have been doing on their travels.
They have been restricted to little or no by their extra expansive hosts, however the ever dependable Jordan Ayew got here up with the all vital strike within the first half. They now take a one-goal lead into the second leg on the Liberty Stadium.
Barnsley are removed from out of it and after a robust season that noticed them end fifth within the Championship desk, they will not be writing themselves off. However Swansea have misplaced simply 5 residence video games all season, and can be assured of seeing it out in south Wales and going all the way in which to Wembley.
It is laborious to foretell a lot primarily based on two cagey video games, however it’s arguably Swansea who come out of the primary legs trying strongest. Their kind in direction of the tip of the Championship season was patchy at greatest, as they blew a commanding lead on the prime of the division and completed some 11 factors off the promotion spots.
However right here they appeared like a group with a plan that’s well-suited to knockout soccer.
They ran themselves into the bottom at Barnsley with Jamal Lowe specifically masking the laborious yards from a wide-left place, and it appears they’re nicely up for the combat to regain their Premier League standing.
Brentford completed as the perfect of the remaining within the Championship by a good distance and it is fairly wonderful that Thomas Frank’s group have by no means been capable of take the ultimate step prior to now. They might achieve this but, however they’ve left themselves with loads of work to do once they return to west London.
And as for Bournemouth…nicely, you would not look previous them if they’ll negotiate that second leg and make the ultimate. As we have seen with Fulham and Aston Villa’s victories lately, Premier League expertise counts for lots within the playoffs, and the Cherries have a variety of it within the likes of Asmir Begovic, Steve Cook dinner and Jefferson Lerma.
However whereas it is primarily cup soccer any further, there isn’t any escaping the very fact they completed the league season with three straight defeats. There’s a collapse in them, and whereas Woodgate has carried out a wonderful job in getting them again into the combat, you are feeling there’s a fragility there which may be uncovered at some stage.
If we have been to select a winner now, it could be Swansea…however there’s a lengthy, lengthy technique to go.