Does momentum matter? The form of the last five Champ play-off winners

Quick Reads

Leeds United, West Brom, Aston Villa and Derby County are set to contest the Championship’s play-offs – but who are the likeliest to win promotion to the Premier League?

Aston Villa are undoubtedly form side this year, winning 10 games in a row before drawing with Leeds and resting players as they lost their last game, 2-1 to champions Norwich.

Leeds, meanwhile, have suffered their worst spell under Marcelo Bielsa, taking just one point from their last four matches. West Brom remain as inconsistent as they’ve been all season, while Frank Lampard’s Rams enjoyed an upturn in form to secure sixth.

Momentum is the buzzword that gets thrown about most often at this time of year, but how important is it?

We’ve taken a look at the last five sides to go up to the Premier League via the play-offs to see what kind of form they were in immediately before.

Fulham (2018)

Fulham were absolutely relentless in the latter half of the season, shooting up from a distant 12th shortly before Christmas up to third.

They went 23 games unbeaten, winning 18, before losing their final game of the league season to Birmingham, missing the chance to leapfrog Cardiff into the last automatic promotion spot.

They then went on to lose the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Derby, losing 1-0 before bouncing back with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage and then beating Aston Villa 1-0 at Wembley.

Huddersfield (2017)

David Wagner’s men somehow got promoted with a negative goal difference, scoring just once in three play-off games and coming through both the semis and final on penalties.

They had pushed Newcastle and Brighton for large parts of the season but fell to fifth after winning just five of their last 14 league games and losing six of the last 10.

Reading had moved up to third after winning seven of their last nine games but were defeated by the Terriers in the final, losing a penalty shootout after a goalless draw.

Hull (2016)

Fourth-placed Hull beat sixth-place Sheffield Wednesday in the final, but the memorable story was Brighton blowing it at the death.

The Seagulls, who were unbeaten in 14 league games, winning nine, had just been pipped to second place by Middlesbrough on goal difference after drawing their last two games.

They then slumped to a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the semis with a 2-0 defeat in the first leg at Hillsborough proving decisive.

Hull had won four of their last six games before the play-offs, recovering to end the season well after poor form in March and early April.

Norwich (2015)

Alex Neil’s third-place Norwich triumphed at Wembley with a dominant 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

They’d won six of their last eight games in the league, with their only defeat in that time a 2-0 defeat to Boro at Carrow Road.

QPR (2014)

Harry Redknapp’s QPR miraculously beat Derby 1-0 at Wembley, despite being reduced to 10 men and being utterly dominated in the game.

They’d fallen away from the top two after a poor run in the latter half of the 2013-14, winning back-to-back games just once after January. They won three, lost three and drew two of their final eight league games.

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