Championship Play-off Final 2023/24: Leeds United & Southampton chase Premier League spot

Leeds United and Southampton face a date with destiny at Wembley Stadium when they meet in the 2023/24 Championship play-off final on Sunday.

A coveted place in the Premier League is up for grabs and both sides will be eager to claim it having spent just one season in the second tier.

Leeds demolished Norwich City 4-0 on aggregate to book their place in the final, while Southampton recorded a 3-1 win overall against West Bromwich Albion.

Read on as we preview the EFL Championship play-off final, before predicting which team we think will be plying their trade in the Premier League next season.

Leeds aiming to prove they are not falling apart again

The chant ‘Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again’ has been sung with relish by opposition fans whenever the Whites have failed to live up to expectations.

A poor run of form resulted in Leeds being mocked relentlessly towards the end of the regular season as their automatic promotion hopes went up in smoke.

The Yorkshire outfit may have the last laugh if they can emerge victorious from the blockbuster clash with the Saints this weekend.

However, a quick look at the Leeds and Southampton head-to-head this season will probably send shivers down the spines of the Whites’ fanbase.

Southampton completed the double over their promotion rivals, winning 3-1 on home soil in September and 2-1 at Elland Road earlier this month.

The Whites were ruthless against Norwich in the second leg of their semi-final tie and a similar performance would undoubtedly boost their chances of victory at Wembley.

Martin guides Southampton to the cusp of the promised land

After making a promising start to season, the wheels fell off for Southampton as they crashed to four successive defeats during September.

Disgruntled fans called for new manager Russell Martin to be axed, but the club kept the faith and were rewarded with a remarkable 22-game unbeaten run in the league.

Eight defeats in their final 16 matches scuppered their hopes of automatic promotion and left them facing the lottery of the play-offs.

Saints were far too good for West Brom in the second leg of their semi-final and will fancy their chances of claiming their third victory over Leeds this season.

Their expansive style could cause Leeds problems at Wembley, although doubts over the fitness of Che Adams and Ross Stewart are an unwelcome distraction.

However, they have held the upper hand over Leeds this term and could be a good bet to make an immediate return to the Premier League.

Predicted starting line-ups

  • Leeds United: Illan Meslier, Archie Gray, Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu, Junior Firpo, Illia Gruev, Glen Kamara, Wilfried Gnonto, Georginio Rutter, Cryscencio Summerville, Joel Piroe.
  • Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Kyle Walker-Peters, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, Downes, Will Smallbone, Joe Aribo, David Brooks, Adam Armstrong, Ryan Fraser.

Championship play-off final prediction

Southampton and Leeds played their part in a thrilling race for automatic promotion, but were ultimately fended off by Leicester City and Ipswich Twon.

Picking a winner this weekend is no easy task, with both teams possessing plenty of quality in their respective squads.

Leeds will be keen to make a fast start, as they have tended to struggle in games when things fail to click inside the first 20 minutes.

Southampton have the ability to play around Leeds – a point evidenced by their two victories over them during the regular season.

Leeds United 1-3 Southampton.

Championship Play-off Final 2023/24: Leeds United & Southampton chase Premier League spot

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