West Bromwich Albion vs Southampton: Preview and Prediction

Southampton will be keen to draw first blood against West Bromwich Albion in the EFL Championship playoff semi-final first leg on Sunday.

West Bromwich Albion and Southampton will face off in the first leg of the Championship playoff semi-finals on Sunday afternoon, as both teams aim for promotion. Finishing in fifth and fourth place respectively, these two sides concluded the regular season with victories, setting the stage for an intense playoff battle.

While Southampton once harboured hopes of automatic promotion, their inconsistent form dashed those aspirations, forcing them into the playoffs after a three-match losing streak. However, a 2-1 win over Leeds United on the final day provided a much-needed boost, lifting their spirits as they head into the playoffs.

Despite this recent victory, Russell Martin’s side faces a daunting task against West Brom at The Hawthorns, where they secured an away win earlier in the season. Having lost just one of their last six visits to the stadium, the Saints have history on their side in the first leg.

On the other hand, West Brom boast an impressive home record, winning 15 out of their fixtures and conceding just 17 goals throughout the campaign. Although they suffered a setback with a heavy defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, they responded emphatically with a 3-0 win over Preston North End to secure their playoff spot.

With both teams eager to secure a first-leg advantage, Sunday’s clash promises to be an intriguing battle between two determined sides. Curiously, neither side have ever managed to qualify via the playoffs in the second tier of English football.

Southampton failed once before while West Brom have fallen short on three previous occasions. But then the teams that have defeated the Baggies in those years have gone on to secure promotion. Southampton will hope to keep that streak going. The Hard Tackle delves into the potential elevens and tactics for this highly-anticipated clash.

Team News & Tactics

West Bromwich Albion

John Swift is anticipated to continue providing depth from the bench, while Jayson Molumby and Daryl Dike remain sidelined due to injury for the Baggies. Carlos Corberan has an otherwise fully fit squad at his disposal.

Southampton have lost three of their last four Championship games this season, with the lone win coming against a Leeds United side that were in freefall. Despite their poor run of form against the Saints in recent years, the Baggies have enough reasons to be confident ahead of the first leg at home.

They are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will aim to choke the visitors off possession in the middle of the park. Corberan is expected to retain the bulk of the XI that started against Preston North End on the final day of the regular season.

Alex Palmer should start in goal behind the back four of Darnell Furlong, Kyle Bartley, Cedric Kipre and Conor Townsend. Okay Yokuslu and Alex Mowatt should form the double pivot, freeing up Jed Wallace, Grady Diangana and Michael Johnston to push forward. Brandon Thomas-Asante is set to start upfront for the Baggies and will hope to make a difference on the night.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Palmer; Furlong, Bartley, Kipre, Townsend; Yokuslu, Mowatt; Wallace, Diangana, Johnston; Thomas-Asante

West Bromwich Albion vs Southampton: Preview and Prediction.


Southampton’s poor end to the campaign saw them throw away a shot at closing the gap on second placed Ipswich Town for an automatic promotion spot. The Saints now have to do it the hard way and will hope to get over the line.

Assuming Che Adams is declared fit, Southampton may opt for the same starting lineup, with Ross Stewart returning to contention from the substitutes’ bench. However, Gavin Bazunu, Juan Larios, and Stuart Armstrong remain unavailable due to injury for Southampton.

The 5-3-2 formation brought Southampton joy against Leeds United, ending their three-game losing streak in the league. Russell Martin is likely to retain it on the night as he seeks to secure an advantage to take home for the second leg.

Alex McCarthy should start in goal behind the back five of Kyle Walker-Peters, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, and Ryan Manning. Walker-Petets and Manning will be entrusted with providing the width down the flanks.

Flynn Downes, Joe Aribo, and Will Smallbone will be entrusted with holding the fort in the middle, with Che Adams and Adam Armstrong leading the line upfront.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Stephens, Manning; Smallbone, Downes, Aribo; Armstrong, Adams

West Bromwich Albion vs Southampton: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • West Bromwich Albion have lost both of their regular season games against Southampton this season in the EFL Championship.
  • Southampton have lost just one of their last six visits to the Hawthorns. This came all the way back in 2021.
  • West Bromwich Albion have failed to qualify through the EFL Championship playoffs thrice. Notably, the teams that have defeated them these years have gone on to secure promotion and play in the Premier League.
  • This is just the second time that Southampton have been involved in the EFL Championship playoffs.
  • West Bromwich Albion have won 15 home games in the league this season, their highest tally in one campaign since 2009/10.

Player to Watch

Adam Armstrong

Embed from Getty Images

The Southampton man has been the go-to player for goals this season, netting 21 strikes for the visitors in 2023/24. Alongside Adams, the duo have a total of 37 strikes in the league this season. It is fair to say that the duo hold the key to Southampton’s fortunes in the remaining games.

West Brom have been solid defensively at the Hawthorns, and the visiting strikers will need to be at their clinical best. As long as Armstrong turns up, the Saints have a shot at taking a lead back to St. Mary’s for the second leg.


West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Southampton

Neither side are expected to go all out in the first leg, and it could prove to be a game of fine margins. Southampton will not be carried away by the win over Leeds United and will be aware that they are far from their best. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw on the night, with all to play for in the second leg.

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