Leeds United must beat Southampton to send a Wembley message


Daniel Farke, Manager of Leeds United gives a thumbs the fans after the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Stoke City at Elland Road on March 05, 2024 in Leeds, England.

If Saturday's Elland Road clash with Southampton feels like Leeds United's biggest game of the season, then the next time Daniel Farke's men face the Saints could yet be even bigger.

An incredible campaign comes to a head this weekend when the Whites host Russell Martin's men in a game they simply must win. Failure to do so will mean they are definitely in the play-offs, no matter what Ipswich Town do against Huddersfield Town.

We all know the drill. Leeds have to win and Ipswich have to lose. Against second-bottom Huddersfield. At home. The odds are very much against that happening, although while there's a chance, United have to go for it.

The most likely outcome, unfortunately, is that we're set for the thrills and spills of the play-offs, meaning a two-legged semi-final with the side that finishes in sixth place and, hopefully, a final date at Wembley against the winners of the fourth vs fifth tie.

Fifth and sixth place are still to be decided, with West Bromwich Albion seemingly doing their best to lose what had looked to be a cast-iron fifth place, and Norwich and Hull City desperate for a slice of the action.

Such is the gulf between the top four and the rest of the division, few would bet against either Leeds or Ipswich coming through any semi-final unscathed and joining Southampton at Wembey on Sunday, May 26.

Which is why Leeds United must send a message to Southampton by flexing their muscles at Elland Road on Saturday. Not only is a potential second spot at stake, but they have the chance to leave the Saints in no doubt over just how good they are.

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After all, Southampton could become the only side to do the double over Leeds this season should they grab an away win after Farke's men were soundly beaten 3-1 at St Mary's way back in September. Leeds are different side now but with the mind games that are sure to come into play around a Wembley final, they can't afford to have two defeats against the Saints in their results column.

Southampton have had a real slump of late, losing their last three games to see any chance of an automatic spot disappear. Leeds must not give them any sniff of redemption ahead of the play-offs.

They need to win for so many reasons, but even if things don't go their way at Ipswich, a victory on Saturday could yet prove vital in their promotion bid.

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