West Ham form can see them past play-off specialists Blackpool
Blackpool’s aggregate success at Birmingham last night set up their second Championship playoff final in three years, but they will travel to Wembley as 5/4 underdogs for promotion.
They will meet West Ham at the national stadium, who are 3/5 favourites to make an immediate return to the Premier League, after an emphatic 5-0 aggregate triumph over Cardiff in the playoff semi-final.
The Hammers must fancy their chances to beat Blackpool, in light of two emphatic victories over the Tangerines during the regular league season, where they racked up eight goals and conceded just once.
Sam Allardyce’s men have also won three of the past four meetings between the sides, and are unbeaten in each of these matches, averaging close to three goals per game.
Four back-to-back wins, and five successes in their last six outings also appear to stand the Iron in good stead to bring Premier League football back to Upton Park next season.
Those who do fancy Ian Holloway’s men to achieve a second playoff success in three years though, will be buoyed from the fact that his side have not lost in their last nine matches heading to Wembley.
Cardiff stood in Blackpool’s way in their last appearance in the Championship showpiece, and the Tangerines won that game despite not beating the Welsh side during the league season.
Also, their superb recent record in playoff matches should not be discounted, as a 2-2 draw at St. Andrew’s last night represented the first time they have failed to win a game of that format in ten.
Both sides have been free-scoring this season, racking up a total of 160 goals between them, though four 1-0 results in the last seven playoff finals suggests that a cagier affair could be in store on neutral ground.
Indeed, West Ham’s last playoff final appearance resulted in a 1-0 Hammers victory, ironically against fierce Blackpool rivals Preston.