Championship Play-Off Final Betting Tips

Championship Play-Off Final Betting Tips

After missing out on automatic promotion, Leeds and Southampton have earned their date with destiny at Wembley in Sunday’s Championship Play-Off Final.

It is fitting that the teams that finished third and fourth respectively - and both with over a dozen more points than the next team in the table - get to fight it out for the last remaining promotion berth.

Only one win separated the clubs in the final analysis of two very different campaigns, with Leeds looking set to possibly win the title at one stage and Saints always coming up on the rails after taking two months to adjust to Russell Martin’s demands.

Daniel Farke has the edge on Martin in terms of experience and success, having twice led former club Norwich to the promised land, but it was Southampton who won both regular-season meetings.

Whether that gives the squad from St Mary’s any psychological advantage remains to be seen, but Leeds will be bursting with confidence again after their 4-0 demolition of the Canaries at Elland Road - hailed by many as their best display of the season.




Both Sides Expected To Score

Leeds are likely to be unchanged from that terrific home win with Farke’s decision to recall Joel Piroe for the game an inspired one.

The Dutchman, who scored 41 Championship goals in two seasons at Swansea under Martin, grabbed the all-important second goal to give the Whites early breathing space and generally led the line well in the absence of Patrick Bamford.

Despite Bamford’s return to fitness, Farke is likely to resist the temptation to bring back his England-capped number nine for this game and should send out the same attacking combination, with Georgino Rutter in the number 10 position flanked by Crysencio Summerville and Willy Gnonto.

Saints will look to the experienced Alex McCarthy again in goal as first-choice keeper Gavin Bazunu suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in April.

Stuart Armstrong’s creativity will again be missed, but Saints’ midfield trio of Flynn Downes, Will Smallbone and Joe Aribo has the sort of mobility that can trouble Leeds in that area.

Martin’s flexible 4-3-3 formation, which often becomes a 3-4-2-1 in possession, has brought out the best in winger David Brooks.

The Welshman was excellent in his side’s 3-1 semi-final win over West Brom and will supply the ammunition for 23-goal top scorer Adam Armstrong up front.

Fellow strikers Che Adams and Ross Stewart are battling to be fit for the Wembley showpiece, while Martin’s decision to revert to three central defenders in the starting line-up has brought more solidity to a side that shipped 20 more goals than Leeds in the 46-game season.

Goals are where the value lies in the markets for this match with both teams to score looking like a standout play for a contest that will feature so much attacking talent.

Not that the defenders on show are any slouches, but Armstrong has been deadly at this level for a number of years and Leeds’ fluid frontline boasts an ability to score from all angles. 

The Saints scored and conceded in 30 of their 46 league games and the second leg of their play-off semi against the Baggies too. 

And while only around half of Leeds’ regular season matches featured goals at both ends it is noteworthy that both of the clashes between these two clubs saw each side register. 


Both Keepers To Be Kept Busy

Saints actually outscored Leeds this season, hitting 87 goals to the Whites’ 81, but the defensive issues that saw them get off to a slow start were never truly fixed.

Martin’s side were beaten 5-0 by Leicester in April, but the head coach switched to a three-man defensive set-up against West Brom at The Hawthorns and they toughed out a 0-0 draw.

A repeat of that system could be on his mind again, but why change something that worked twice against this particular opponent in the regular season?

Southampton are a better team when they are on the front foot, pressing and bursting forwards from midfield, and they will likely create their fair share of chances against a Leeds side indebted to goalkeeper Ilan Meslier for a huge save against Norwich last week.

Had Canaries striker Josh Sargent scored his one-on-one chance to punish Ethan Ampadu’s error the second leg could have turned out differently. 

Over 2.5 goals landed in four of Leeds’ last five games and five of their six clashes with the sides that finished in the top four across the campaign.


Armstrong To Find The Net

Summerville finished as Leeds’ top-scorer with 19 in the 46-game campaign representing a superb tally for a winger who also provided nine league assists.

But the bulk of the Whites’ goals were spread around several different contributors, with Piroe and Dan James grabbing 13 each, while Gnonto and Bamford managed eight strikes apiece.

Southampton have been more reliant on two out-and-out goalscorers with Armstrong finishing second only to Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics in the Championship goalscorers’ chart.

Adams finished on 15 league goals for the campaign, but, after a brilliant start to April when he registered six goals in five games, the Scotland international has gone off the boil.

Armstrong, who took his league tally to 23 with a pinpoint strike against West Brom last week, has been a more reliable goalscorer at this level throughout his career.

He produced tallies of 16 and 28 league goals for Blackburn respectively in his last two full seasons in the Championship before this.

The Englishman has also scored four goals across his last three starts against Leeds, including three goals in two Championship appearances versus the Whites this season. 



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