Championship play off final preview: West Ham Utd v Blackpool
Having both been relegated from the top flight last season, both Blackpool and West Ham have the opportunity this weekend to bounce straight back. With one place up for grab, one of the sides will be making a lucrative return to the Premier League leaving the losers enduring another long season in the Championship. Both sides experienced different semi finals with West Ham easing past opponents Cardiff with a convincing 5-0 aggregate scoreline against the Welsh side. Blackpool however secured a final place after battling brilliantly in the second leg to prevent Birmingham City place taking the tie to extra time. The Seasiders came out against the Midlands side winning 3-2 on aggregate. Both clubs will be eager to return to the big time which will make it a very entertaining game.
Ian Holloway took Blackpool to the promise land two years ago after beating Cardiff in the play off final at Wembley. His side gained many fans last year with his sides performances. Unfortunately they were relegated on the last day of the season after being narrowly beaten at Old Trafford by Manchester United. The Seasiders though are back again after just one season in the Championship. Two excellent displays in the semi finals against Birmingham ensured they made it to Wembley again, and even though they go into the tie with West Ham as underdogs, they will know anything is possible on the day. Wingers Tom Ince and Matt Phillips have really shone for them this year and with the experience of another Phillips, Kevin, they have impressed this season. Loan signing Stephen Dobbie will be making his second appearance for Blackpool in the play off's in three years after he helped gain promotion two years ago and will be looking for a repeat performance.
West Ham United:
Having been tipped for automatic promotion at the start of the season, the Hammers would not have expected to be in this position come the end of the season. Sam Alladyce's side had been around the top of the table for much of the season, but after a terrific run by Reading they were pipped to a place and had to settle for a place in the play off's. Their last appearance in a play off final came in 2005 where they beat Preston 1-0 in a tight encounter at the Millennium Stadium. West Ham have always been renowned to be a Premier League club and a return to the big time is a must. Players such as Rob Green, Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole are all proven at the top level and will not want another season in the Championship. Striker Ricardo Vaz Te has had an excellent season having moved to the Hammers in the January transfer market from Barnsley. The Portuguese forward has 21 league goals to his name this season, 11 of them coming in his time at Upton Park. Having previously played in the Premier League with Bolton, Vaz Te suffered an injury hit time at the Reebok and will want another chance to show he can prove himself in the top flight.