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Football | Wednesday, May 22, 2024 3:29 PM (Revised at: Sunday, May 26, 2024 11:20 AM)

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction: Team News and Lineups Preview

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction: Team News and Lineups Preview
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo: Southampton's Jack Stephens in action

Dubbed the most valuable single football match in the world, Jack Wright offers up a Leeds vs Southampton prediction, team news and lineups preview for the 2023/24 Championship play-off final.

Having suffered relegation last term, which of these two sides, both in their first season under new management, will seal an immediate return to the Premier League? The pair justified favouritism in delivering convincing semi-final wins to earn their place at Wembley for this end of season shootout.

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 1: Whites knuckle ride for Saints and sinners alike

England, Championship, Sunday, May 26th, 15:00 (UK)

As if there wasn’t enough at stake in this fixture, it is also dripping in narrative. After nine years, three promotions, and 309 appearances, many of which as captain (including in the play-off final of 2015) at Norwich City, Russell Martin had his contract terminated by mutual consent.

His head coach told him that with players over 30 years old, he either “had to go with them 100% or go without them,” and he was choosing the latter. Martin then trained with the Norwich U23’s also helping their coach Matt Gill. The guy to have called time on his spell in Norfolk then was, of course, Daniel Farke, the man in the opposition technical area on Sunday.

Martin has already gained an element of revenge twice this season, with Southampton being the only team to have completed a league double over the Yorkshire outfit despite finishing three points behind them in fourth. 

Saints will be the fourth side to have gone into this fixture in the last ten years having doubled their opponent in the regular season. In the aforementioned final of 2015, Norwich made light work of 4-0 and 1-0 defeats to beat a Middlesbrough side containing Patrick Bamford 2-0 at Wembley. 

It was a season when Leeds were beaten semi-finalists and saw Aston Villa complete a treble against Derby with a 2-1 win in the final. Most recently, in 2020, having beaten Fulham twice, Brentford suffered an extra-time defeat to the Cottagers and missed out on a first promotion to the Premier League.

Regurgitating Unders

So, taking recent history into account, we could rightfully regurgitate the well trotted out phrase of form going out the window. What is a common denominator, though, is all those games were tight.

Despite victories by 3-1 at St. Mary’s and 2-1 at Elland Road, I am going against us seeing a similar end-to-end shootout style and instead backing under 2.5 goals. It’s a trend which has been a profitable one to follow in recent Championship play-off finals. 

With so much at stake this match has historically been tight even when being graced with some incredible attacking talent as will be the case here. Let us not forget that despite both second legs seeing four goals, both these sides played out goalless draws in their respective first-leg ties with Norwich and West Brom.

The last 11 play-off finals have produced a total of 13 goals, with ten of those seeing success for under 2.5 bettors. The last four have all gone under, with only the aforementioned 2-1 defeat of Derby by Aston Villa going over thanks to a late consolation goal from the Rams’ Jack Marriott.

  • Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 1: Under 2.5 Goal Line (TRACKED BET)
  • Best Odds: 1.92
  • Bookmaker: bet365
  • Stake: 8/10

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 2: Tackle tally too tough to top?

A play-off final at Wembley, a place in the Premier League at stake and the untold riches that go with it means the tackles will be flying in right? Well not necessarily. 

It will be interesting how both sides set up here even more so given Southampton’s success in the two regular season games. It is likely Daniel Farke will stick with a tried and trusted formation, probably naming an unchanged side to the one which brought that 4-0 success against the Canaries.

Russell Martin has been more prone to change in recent weeks with the use of a false nine, top scorer Adam Armstrong off the right, and even switching to a back three. What doesn’t change is an obsession with possession, something synonymous with the MK Dons and Swansea sides managed by Martin.

The Saints averaged a league-high 66.1% of the ball throughout the campaign; however, in both meetings with Leeds, they actually saw less possession. With both sides boasting fearsome firepower, we could see something of a standoff, especially in the big open spaces of Wembley, even more so if the temperature becomes as hot as the atmosphere. 

Over the course of the season, Leeds games rank highly for tackles, averaging 37.02, but Southampton are well in the lower half. With an average of 29 per game in 2024, they fall well under the line set here.

Four of Leeds’ and all of Southampton’s last six games have seen under 34.5 tackles. Interestingly, the two league meetings saw 30 at St. Mary’s and just 23 at Elland Road only three weeks ago.

  • Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 2: Under 34.5 Match Tackles
  • Best Odds: 1.83
  • Bookmaker: bet365
  • Stake: 7/10

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 3: A player prop Bet Builder that looks great on recent form

Crysencio Summerville set the tone for a stunning campaign as he both assisted and scored in Daniel Farke’s first game in charge. It was he who slotted in the fourth and final goal in the mauling of Norwich to seal his side’s place at Wembley.

With an impressive 20 goals and nine assists to his name, the 22-year-old was a worthy winner of Sky Bet Championship Player of the Season despite some seriously hot competition. The pace and trickery of the Dutchman has been a constant menace to defences across the campaign.

Summerville has fired in 133 attempts at goal in the league this season with 54 on target. He has had at least one on target in each of his last five appearances and I am taking that to continue in a game that is certain to bring the best out of him.

After a dip in form recently, Georginio Rutter was back to his best last time out in his favoured, slightly withdrawn role. It is quite possible if in the same mood, he could run riot at Wembley.

Therefore one of the key battles on Sunday will be how Southampton go about nullifying his threat. It could be a case of midfielder Flynn Downes tasked with sitting on him or what I feel is more likely a Saints centre back pushing forward to close that pocket of space. 

If the latter proves to be correct, that player is likely to be Jack Stephens. The Saints skipper, who can also slot in at left-back, has made 22 tackles in his last nine starts for the club, with at least two in each of his previous five.

When these two sides met on the last day of the regular season, the 30-year-old made three tackles. 

  • Leeds vs Southampton Prediction 3: Crysencio Summerville Over 0.5 Shots on Target and Jack Stephens Over 1.5 Tackles (TRACKED BET)
  • Best Odds: 1.90
  • Bookmaker: bet365
  • Stake: 8/10

Leeds vs Southampton Prediction odds via bet365 as at 11:00, May 22nd, 2024. Odds may now differ.

Leeds vs Southampton Team News and Possible Lineups

Daniel Farke is likely to keep faith with the same starting lineup that swept Norwich aside in the semi-final second leg. There are tactical tweaks possible with Archie Gray a candidate for a midfield role if Sam Byram is fit enough to start at right back. Jaidon Anthony offers an attacking alternative but is unlikely to displace any of the front four after that last impressive showing at Elland Road.

Che Adams has been working around the clock to be fit for the Wembley showpiece. Although it is likely that if he does recover as expected from his calf issue, he will start on the bench alongside Ross Stewart. Russell Martin must decide whether to stick with the back four that was successful in the second leg against West Brom. Or revert to the back five, which brought three points when the two sides met at Elland Road on the last day of the season. In which case, Ryan Manning and James Bree will battle it out for a place on the left side of defence.

Leeds possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Kamara, Gruev; Gnonto, Rutter, Summerville; Piroe

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Harwood-Bellis, Stephens; Smallbone, Downes, Aribo; Fraser, Adam Armstrong, Brooks. 

Match Stats: Could Leeds take to the air to beat pass masters Southampton?

  • Southampton won the fewest aerial duels (460) in the Championship this season. 
  • Only Bristol City (71) picked up fewer than Leeds’ 75 yellow cards in the Championship this season. 
  • Southampton made the most passes of any side in the Championship with 31816 which was over 3000 more than their nearest rival Leicester and 18000 more than Rotherham with the fewest passes.
  • Ethan Ampadu was involved in more clean sheets than any other Championship player this term with 21. 

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