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Leeds, Norwich, WBA & Saints prepare to do battle

Championship playoff preview

2024/05/10 17:04
E2

Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United have already made it through to Wembley Stadium where they will meet in the League One playoff final, whilst Doncaster Rovers and Crawley Town have comfortable leads after the first-legs of their League Two playoff semi-finals against Crewe Alexandra and Milton Keynes Dons, respectively.

A week after those two finals at the ‘home of football’ will see the FA Cup final followed by the Championship playoff final as four teams prepare to do battle to get themselves promoted into the Premier League.

Leeds United, Norwich City, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion are a quartet full of pedigree and four teams that will believe themselves to belong in the top-flight.

So, without further ado, this is our brief preview and rundown of all four teams as well as a prediction for what may happen over the course of the next couple of weeks…


LEEDS UNITED

Manager: Daniel Farke

Captain: Liam Cooper

League position: 3rd 

Last season: 19th (relegated from the Premier League)

Trips to Wembley: 9 (FA Cup final 1965, FA Cup final 1970, FA Cup final 1972, FA Cup final 1973, Community Shield 1974, Community Shield 1992, EFL Cup final 1996, League One playoff final 2008)

Playoff past: 0 promotions from 5 attempts (Championship finalists 1987, Championship finalists 2006, League One finalists 2008, League One semi-finalists 2009, Championship semi-finalists 2019)

Following their relegation last season, Leeds United went into the season on the back of a turbulent summer transfer window in which a lot of players departed Elland Road. After a slow-ish start, Daniel Farke got the Yorkshiremen into a fluency and flow that appeared destined to send them up as champions before a very dodgy end to the campaign.

Leeds’ 2-1 defeat at home to Southampton on the final day of the season means they managed to collect just eight points from their final eight games after the March international break. They look fatigued and have lacked cohesion in that time but will surely be reinvigorated to attack the playoffs over the next week or so. 

 

 

NORWICH CITY

Manager: David Wagner

Captain: Grant Hanley

League position: 6th 

Last season: 13th 

Trips to Wembley: 4 (EFL Cup final 1973, EFL Cup final 1975, EFL Cup final 1985, Championship playoff final 2015)

Playoff past: 1 promotion from 2 attempts (Championship finalists 2002, Championship winners 2015)

@Getty /

Former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner, where he propelled the Terriers into the top-flight, there have been major issues in the fanbase at Norwich City with discomfort at the continued employment of Sporting Director Stuart Webber as well as a lot of scepticism and a general disconnect of and with Wagner for much of the campaign.

The Canaries, though, managed to finish in the top six despite a final day loss at eventually relegated Birmingham City last week. Norwich’s loss at St Andrews means they enter the end of season playoffs on the back of just one win in their final five games since an ‘Old Farm Derby’ win against Ipswich Town and just two wins in seven. 

SOUTHAMPTON

Manager: Russell Martin

Captain: Jack Stephens

League position: 4th 

Last season: 20th (relegated from the Premier League)

Trips to Wembley: 8 (FA Cup final 1976, Community Shield 1977, EFL Cup final 1979, Full Members’ Cup final 1992, EFL Trophy final 2010, EFL Cup final 2017, FA Cup semi-final 2018, FA Cup semi-final 2021)

Playoff past: 0 promotions from 1 attempt (Championship semi-finalists 2007)

 

@Getty /

Southampton also embarked upon a busy summer transfer window following their relegation from the Premier League last season. The Saints decided to take the gamble on the appointment of Russell Martin, who plays an extremely progressive and sophisticated, complex style of football that is wide open at both ends of the pitch.

Saints’ 46 games in the regular season consisted of 150 goals with the third best attack in the league and a defence that conceded more goals than 17th placed Stoke City. They, like West Brom, ended a three-match losing streak which ended their automatic promotion push, by winning on the final day against Leeds United last week. 

WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Manager: Carlos Corberan

Captain: Jed Wallace

League position: 5th 

Last season: 9th 

Trips to Wembley: 9 (FA Cup final 1931, FA Cup final 1935, FA Cup final 1954, EFL Cup final 1967, FA Cup final 1968, EFL Cup final 1970, League One playoff final 1993, Championship playoff final 2007, FA Cup semi-final 2009)

Playoff past: 1 promotion from 4 attempts (League One winners 1993, Championship semi-finalists 2001, Championship finalists 2007, Championship semi-finalists 2019)

@Getty /

West Bromwich Albion began this season in a fair bit of financial turmoil that still does exist to an extent. The Baggies could only make a few signings but the impressive coaching of former Huddersfield Town boss Carlos Corberan has managed to cultivate a strong and cohesive, effective side that have been comfortable in the top six for much of the season.

They finished the season strongly, too, with a 3-0 hammering of Preston North End at the Hawthorns last weekend. However, prior to that loss, when already firmly tucked in the top six and no hope of pushing for a top two finish, they had suffered three successive losses so they will hope to have rediscovered their form with that victory against Preston. 


Playmaker prediction: Leeds to beat West Brom at Wembley

Leeds United vs Norwich City provides a very Championship feel for the first semi-final and it also pits Daniel Farke against the club where he won the second-tier title twice. Leeds, on paper and at their best, should win the playoffs. However, their poor form does open it up a bit. There has to be an expectation, though, that they will rediscover something that made them so good, especially with the quality of personnel and a high-scoring two-legged victory does still seem likely. The other semi pits a Southampton side with a holistic energy about them and the way we play against a West Brom team that have got the absolute most out of themselves with efficiency at both ends of the pitch. The ceiling of Saints is higher but there is a glass jaw there ready for a team like West Brom to take advantage of. A Leeds-West Brom final at Wembley may not spark much excitement with the likelihood being Leeds eventually do get over the line and avoid falling part… again.


The dates:

Sunday 12th May | 12:00 | Norwich City vs Leeds United

Sunday 12th May | 14:15 | West Bromwich Albion vs Southampton

Thursday 16th May | 20:00 | Leeds United vs Norwich City

Friday 17th May | 20:00 | Southampton vs West Bromwich Albion

Comments

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motivo:
2024-05-10 18h21m by ocollinsworth
As a football fan, I can't wait for the League One playoff final between Bolton and Oxford at Wembley. And let's not forget about the comfortable leads held by Doncaster and Crawley in the League Two semis. But the real excitement comes with the FA Cup final and the Championship playoff final, where Leeds, Norwich, Southampton, and West Brom will fight for a spot in the Premier League. It's going to be a thrilling week of football at Wembley.
2024-05-10 17h43m by mfosterfield
As a football fan, I am buzzing with excitement for the upcoming playoff finals! Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United have already secured their spots at Wembley, but who will join them Doncaster Rovers and Crawley Town have strong leads in their semi-finals, but anything can happen in football. And let's not forget about the FA Cup final and Championship playoff final the week after - a chance for four teams to fight for promotion to the Premier League. Leeds, Norwich, Southampton,

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