Brentford and Fulham will contest the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on Tuesday as the London rivals fight it out for a place in the Premier League.
The Bees (third) and the Cottagers (fourth) reached the Wembley showdown after strong, consistent campaigns, both overcoming Welsh competition in Swansea and Cardiff respectively in the semi-finals.
Thomas Frank’s Brentford side have become one of, if not the most entertaining sides to watch outside the top flight, while Scott Parker’s Fulham team are attempting to make an immediate return to the Premier League at the first time of asking following their relegation last season.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of the match.
Brentford back to their best
Questions were asked of Brentford after back-to-back defeats to Stoke and Barnsley in the final week of the season saw them blow their chances of automatic promotion. Concerns grew after they were then beaten by Swansea in the first leg of the play-off semi finals.
However, the Bees were back to their old selves in the second leg, overturning the deficit and signing off the last game at Griffin Park in style.
Frank was confident his side would do it and his side responded with a performance that will see them make the short trip to Wembley brimming with confidence.
“BMW” reaching top speed
5️⃣7️⃣ goals2️⃣0️⃣ assists— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) July 26, 2020
Brentford’s forward line rediscovered their scoring form in the second leg against Swansea, after going three matches without a goal.
Said Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins have scored 59 Championship goals between them this season after Watkins and Mbeumo found the back of the net at Griffin Park.
Benrahma’s eye-catching ability on the ball has brought him to the attention of Premier League clubs while Watkins, who played out on the wing last season, has demonstrated he is a top-flight forward in the making this season.
Centurion Mitrovic could emulate Saha
Fulham have their own goal machine in the shape of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who finished the campaign as the Championship’s leading scorer. With 26 goals the Serb became the first Fulham player to win the golden boot since Louis Saha in 2001.
Saha fired the Cottagers to the Premier League that year with 27 goals but Mitrovic has that target in his sights as he prepares to make his 100th appearance for the club at Wembley on Tuesday night.
It remains to be seen whether the 25-year-old will be fit to play given that he missed both semi-final games against Cardiff with a hamstring problem, although Fulham boss Scott Parker remains hopeful that he will recover in time.
Bees at the double
Brentford got the upper hand over their west London neighbours during the regular season by winning both matches. Mbeumo scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Griffin Park in December while, most recently, late goals from Benrahma and Emiliano Marcondes saw the Bees do the double with a 2-0 victory at Craven Cottage following the restart in June.
Recent history also favours Brentford, with Fulham having won only one of the last 10 league meetings between the club going back to 2014. The Bees have six victories during that time.
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