Leeds United play-off hat-trick prediction: YEP's pre-match Wembley verdict vs Southampton

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The YEP’s Leeds United journalists Graham Smyth, Lee Sobot and Joe Donnohue offer their verdicts on what they think will happen during Sunday’s play-off final against Southampton.

Lee Sobot

Southampton were the only team to do the double over Leeds during the regular season, but I fancy the Whites to have the last laugh in Sunday's play-off final.

The Saints are likely to prove a totally different proposition to Norwich City who Leeds absolutely walloped 4-0 in the play-offs semi-final second leg at Elland Road. That said, my feeling would be that Leeds will also get the job done against Southampton if they produce a performance anything like the one witnessed at Elland Road in the second leg against the Canaries. It's a big 'if' after the run-in Leeds had, with results like the recent capitulation at QPR a particular worry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the Whites definitely seemed to have a real spring in their step in the second leg win against Norwich with attacking stars shining and a second consecutive clean sheet banked. Confidence should be brimming. Southampton deserve the utmost respect and an early Saints goal would be a massive worry as to how Leeds react. Twenty-three-goal striker Adam Armstrong rates an obvious danger. Plenty will also point to United's awful record in the play-offs but what happened in 2006 against Watford and the like really should not make any difference to these players. That was then, this is now and Leeds might just have too much going forward, the stage perfectly set for the Championship's player of the year Crysencio Summerville to shine, the winger often proving a man for big moments. Extra time would be a worry, let alone penalties, but I'd fancy Leeds to get it done inside 90 minutes, backed by what is sure to be incredible support as part of a Whites invasion in the capital in the hope to finally lay the club's play-off demons to rest.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Southampton 0.

Graham Smyth

Predictions are for mugs, because this game has a habit of making us all look like one. That much is never more true than when a one-off game like a Wembley play-off final crops up. The setting, the occasion and the prize of Premier League football could easily draw magic or the unknown from any number of players on the pitch on Sunday and make a mockery of whatever it might say on paper beforehand. With that said, Leeds have sufficient star power and match-winning ability in their ranks to get this job done.

Bengal Brasserie Arena Quarter.

Will Smallbone is a worry, Adam Armstrong is too and the likes of Joe Aribo could produce something special, but if Leeds play with the intensity they used to blow Norwich City away and if the front four that their confidence from that game into this one, they can win this game. It was vital for Leeds to return to their confident, controlling best before the final and they did. That makes it easier, or rather more comfortable, to predict a Whites win by the odd goal in three. It will surely be tight, both sides will have spells of dominance and you could easily see a cagey start.

Prediction: Leeds 2-1 Southampton.

Joe Donnohue

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At the risk of sounding like a mug (thanks, Graham), the play-off final is a tough one to call even though Southampton have had Leeds’ number twice this season. The first game at St. Mary’s, United’s back four was - right to left - Shackleton, Struijk, Cooper, Byram. A midfielder at right-back, left-footed centre-half on the right of the centre-back pairing and a right-back at left-back, never mind the obvious differences in personnel we’re likely to see tomorrow. 

It’ll be Gray, Rodon, Ampadu and Firpo in defence at Wembley, and while three of those started in the fixture between these two at the start of this month, Leeds’ approach is expected to be a bit different. They had to go for it on the final day - this time it’ll be cagier, and Archie will be back on the right in Byram’s place, you’d imagine. Firpo’s form in the second half of the season has given rise to terrace chants - who’d have thought that ever possible? - and he’s not likely to commit the same error he did in the game at Elland Road on May 4 that led to Southampton’s second. 

This is a team rejuvenated by the 4-0 win over Norwich in the semi-final, a result which wiped the slate clean of the past few weeks. With the best will in the world, the players probably knew the final day meeting with the Saints was a dead-rubber - this match-up couldn’t be more different and they’ve got previous turning up for ‘spotlight’ fixtures this season.

That said, Southampton’s record with and without Flynn Downes is fairly telling (they are much stronger with him) while the availability of Ché Adams and Ross Stewart in attack bolsters Russell Martin’s options at the top of the pitch. It’ll be hard to separate them but as legs begin to tire in the closing stages, perhaps if the tie goes to extra time, you’d bank on the likes of Dan James off the bench, Willy Gnonto, Cree Summerville or Georgi Rutter to be the difference.

Prediction: Leeds 3-1 Southampton - after extra time.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.