Leeds United vs Southampton: Preview and Prediction

A spot in next season’s Premier League will be on the line when Leeds United and Southampton clash at Wembley on Sunday.

The 2023/24 EFL Championship season will end on Sunday, bringing the curtains down on an action-packed campaign. Wembley will host the promotion playoff final, with Leeds United and Southampton vying for the third spot to reach the Premier League.

Leeds United will be ruing the missed opportunity to seal an automatic qualification berth after having their fortunes in their hands. The Whites had climbed to the top of the table amid an incredible 14-match unbeaten streak to kick off 2024. However, a run of one win in six subsequent games left Leeds six points behind Ipswich Town, with all the top three teams refusing to cruise to the automatic positions.

That meant Leeds United had to take the scenic route to return to the Premier League. The Whites began their playoff journey with a 4-0 aggregate win over Norwich City to set up the date in the final with Southampton, with the Saints overcoming West Bromwich Albion with a 3-1 triumph. Interestingly, both first-leg semi-final matches ended in goalless stalemates.

Speaking of Southampton, they were always in the promotion picture but could not threaten the top three teams in the regular season. The Saints had a slim chance of sealing a top-two finish but won only one of their last four games to end up on the fourth spot in the standings.

Leeds United and Southampton locked horns twice in the regular season, with Russell Martin’s charges winning both fixtures. The match at St. Mary’s ended in a 3-1 victory, while the Saints clinched a 2-1 win in their final game before the playoffs. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Leeds United

Daniel Farke has a new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the EFL Championship promotion playoff final. Against Southampton on Sunday, the Leeds United manager will be bereft of the services of four first-team players.

Sam Byram is the latest absentee, with the full-back sustaining a hip injury. The 30-year-old has joined Darko Gyabi and Pascal Struijk on the sidelines, with the duo recovering from their respective groin injuries. In addition, Farke has ruled Patrick Bamford out of Sunday’s game due to a knee injury.

Illan Meslier is an automatic pick between the sticks, with Leeds United lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him against Southampton. The backline should feature Archie Gray, Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, and Junior Firpo.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Ilia Gruev and Glen Kamara in the double pivot. The duo will aim to keep things tight in the middle of the park while initiating swift transitions. Wilfried Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville will be the two wide attackers, with Georginio Rutter and Joel Piroe completing the numbers in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Gray, Ampadu, Rodon, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto, Rutter, Summerville; Piroe


Like his counterpart in the Leeds United dugout, Russell Martin has a few pressing issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Wembley. The Southampton manager will be without three first-team players on Sunday.

Gavin Bazunu (achilles), Juan Larios (hamstring), and Stuart Armstrong (thigh) are long-term absentees and have played their final games of the 2023/24 season. Meanwhile, Martin has been sweating over the fitness of Ryan Fraser, although the Scot should be fit enough to feature.

Southampton will line up in a 4-3-3 formation against Leeds United, with Alex McCarthy being an automatic pick between the sticks. The backline should feature Kyle Walker-Peters, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jan Bednarek, and Jack Stephens.

As for the midfield unit, Joe Aribo, Will Smallbone, and Flynn Downes pick themselves in the dynamic trifecta in the middle of the park. Finally, Adam Armstrong should lead the line for Southampton on Sunday, with David Brooks and Ryan Fraser being the two wide attackers.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Stephens; Aribo, Downes, Smallbone; Brooks, Armstrong, Fraser

Key Stats

  • Southampton were the only team to do the league double over Leeds United this season, with the second of those wins coming on the final day at Elland Road (2-1).
  • Leeds United and Southampton have met 100 times previously, with the Whites holding a superior head-to-head record with 48 wins to the Saints’ 30 victories (D22). Of the 19 opponents Leeds have played 100+ times, their win rate against Southampton is their greatest (48%).
  • Sunday’s match will be the third second-tier playoff final between two teams that were relegated in the previous campaign after Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace in 1995/96 and West Ham United 2-1 Blackpool in 2011/12.
  • Leeds United have lost their last two matches at Wembley Stadium, most recently in the 2008 League One playoff final to Doncaster Rovers (0-1), their only previous playoff game at the national stadium. The Whites’ most recent victory at the venue came in the 1992 Community Shield against Liverpool, winning 4-3, with Eric Cantona scoring a hat-trick.
  • Daniel Farke can become the third manager to win promotion to the Premier League three times after Steve Bruce (4) and Neil Warnock (3), following his two title-winning seasons with Norwich City in 2018/19 and 2020/21.

Player to Watch

Crysencio Summerville

Embed from Getty Images

While Leeds United faltered in the final phase of the 2023/24 EFL Championship regular season, one player can hold his head high. Crysencio Summerville was on fire throughout the campaign, amassing 21 goals and 10 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions.

Summerville’s exploits have captured the attention of several high-profile clubs in the Premier League. However, the Dutchman is eager to take Leeds United back to the top flight and remains committed to the West Yorkshire club. Expect a top-notch display from a motivated Summerville this weekend.


Leeds United 2-1 Southampton

Revenge will be on the mind of Leeds United when they lock horns with Southampton at Wembley on Sunday. The Whites lost both meetings in the regular season but cannot afford a similar result a third time. With a spot in the next season’s Premier League up for grabs, there is no room for error.

Meanwhile, Leeds have reached a playoff final for the fourth time, failing to win promotion in their previous three attempts (1986/87, 2005/06, 2007/08). However, after showing exemplary form in the playoff semi-final, they will fancy their prospects. On the other hand, Southampton will be eager to complete a rare treble on Sunday.

According to Betting Lounge, Leeds United have odds of 133/100 to win, while Southampton come at 21/10. The match should go down the wire before we get a winner, with extra time on the cards. In the end, Crysencio Summerville should rise to the occasion and deliver the goods, scoring the late winner to take Leeds United back to the Premier League at Southampton’s expense.

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