By Ben Evans
After the 2020/21 Championship campaign was wrapped up on Saturday, all focus will now be on the four sides who will battle it out for promotion in the play-offs at Wembley.
The Bees missed out on automatic promotion yet again, finishing just four points off Watford in second. Another impressive season for all at Brentford, especially for top scorer, Ivan Toney, who finished on 31 goals, making him the record goal scorer in a single Championship season.
There is no doubt that several clubs, especially those in the Premier League will have their eyes on a transfer for Toney, but he will certainly be focusing on getting his current side into the topflight for the first time.
Brentford outscored the rest of the league this season, scoring 79 goals and finished on the second highest goal difference, behind champions Norwich.
Their goal threat is clear but the same can’t be said for their defence after conceding 42 goals throughout the campaign.
Manager, Thomas Frank, who also led his side to a League Cup semi-final, will look to continue their 12-game unbeaten streak against Bournemouth in their two legs on the 17th and 22nd of May.
The Swans made up for just missing out on the play-offs in the previous year with a terrific fourth placed finish. The South Wales club finished on 80 points, with 23 wins and 56 goals scored.
Star-man, Andre Ayew, lived up to the title yet again, netting 16 times for his side, making him the club’s top scorer, with new signing, Jamal Lowe, close behind with 14.
Another player who stood out for Swansea this season was Wales full-back, Connor Roberts, who in his 48 appearances this season found the back of the net five times, also finding seven assists from right-back.
They remained towards the top end of the table throughout the duration of the season and will hope that they can get the better of Barnsley in their play-off semi-finals, despite just one win in their last five.
Their manager, Steve Cooper, said after their final day defeat to Watford:
“Going into these play-offs, we should fear nothing and go for it.”
In Swansea’s previous league games against Barnsley, they managed to get the best of them on both occasions, winning 2-0 home and away.
Arguably the most surprising to reach the Championship play-offs this season is Barnsley. A draw against champions, Norwich and a defeat for Bournemouth against Stoke meant the Tykes finished in 5th position.
Their first time finishing in a Championship play-off place and rightly so. 23 wins, 58 goals scored and some big results in a difficult season for everyone this year.
Cauley Woodrow finished on 14 goals this season for Barnsley, making it another impressive season for the 26-year-old. Another man to make a statement since joining in February was Daryl Dike who initially joined on loan from MLS side, Orlando City.
“I really hope we can now get a big reward in the play-offs because, when you believe in something, you can achieve some great results”, said manager, Valerien Ismael, after his side’s final game.
Barnsley’s biggest weakness is their rocky defence who conceded a hefty 50 goals. The Tykes take on Swansea at Wembley on the 17th and 22nd also.
The side no one is shocked to see in a play-off place. Some may be shocked to see that the Cherries finished 6th and not higher but manager Jonathan Woodgate got the job done despite a difficult finish.
After Eddie Howe’s departure after their relegation from the Premier League, Bournemouth fans hoped for a quick return and after experiencing 13 loses in their return to the Championship, a play-off place should satisfy them.
The Cherries managed to keep a hold of most of their players despite relegation and they made the clear difference. Joint-top goal scorer, Dominic Solanke who netted 15 times, along with teammate, Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld.
There’s no doubting Bournemouth’s quality but after their final day loss to Stoke, a sixth placed finish means they will play high scoring Brentford at Wembley.
73 goals this season means we could be in for a memorable play-off semi-final. The league meetings this season saw Brentford do the double over Bournemouth, making them the favourites in this tie.
Which teams will make it into the final at Wembley and which side will win the star prize of Premier League football?