Luton and Sunderland meet in the playoffs once again but who will make it to Wembley?
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One Step Away
Sunderland may have a one-goal advantage going into Tuesday’s second leg but their playoff clash with Luton is not done yet.
First Blood Sunderland
After squaring off at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Luton and Sunderland now have to meet once more. This EFL Championship playoff tie is neatly poised after the Black Cats earned a 2-1 win on home soil but now it is the Hatters who have home advantage.
One that Rob Edwards’ men will have to make full use of on Tuesday and after finding themselves ahead on Wearside nearly 72 hours ago, questions will be asked as to how they failed to return south with at least parity in terms of goals.
However, the time for soul searching is almost over and after finishing third in the regular season table, Luton will want to avoid joining the list of playoff nearly men after an impressive showing over 46 matches.
Of course, that is the lottery which is the playoffs. Four teams purchase a ticket knowing what the deal is. Two will get to the showpiece event at Wembley, one will eventually earn a place in the Premier League’s promised land.
A place that Sunderland has not been to since the end of the 2016/17 campaign – one that saw them finish bottom of the top-tier table and perhaps more importantly, suffer the first of two damaging relegations.
Although there is a sense of what goes down could also eventually return and just as this club suffered back-to-back demotions in the 16/17 and 17/18 seasons, they will look to achieve the opposite at the end of this.
Promoted out of League One 12 months ago, the Black Cats managed to scratch their way to a top-six finish on the final day of the Championship’s latest edition. Now though, they will look to claw themselves to Wembley.
While in terms of the promised land, Luton’s story is perhaps more remarkable. The Hertfordshire outfit are yet to taste the champagne that comes with the Premier League. They have also been more used to the lemonade that comes with the fifth step of English football.
There are questions regarding whether Luton are glamorous enough to mix it with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but that discussion will have to wait until the end of this current promotion process. The glamour that manager Rob Edwards cares about is on the field of play.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips and with Luton needing a win to have any chance of progressing, I am backing the hosts to win in 90 minutes and both teams to also find the net on Tuesday. This opening gambit is currently priced at 7/2.
While if Luton are to win and both teams are to score, I can also see extra time being required. The logical conclusion for this to happen would be a 2-1 home victory in 90 minutes and this score is priced at 15/2.
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