The second Championship play-off semi-final on Sunday takes place at the Hawthorns. We look ahead to this clash with our West Brom vs Southampton prediction and preview.

West Brom vs Southampton Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer rates West Brom as the most likely winners of this first leg (41.9%), but Southampton are nevertheless favourites over the two legs to make it through to the final at Wembley (55.5%).
  • Southampton have won seven of their last eight meetings with West Brom, although WBA’s only win in this run did come at the Hawthorns.
  • West Brom had the oldest average starting XI age in the Championship this season (28 years, 175 days old).

Match Preview

Russell Martin’s Southampton side were always there or thereabouts in the automatic promotion race this season, but the quality of Leicester City and Ipswich Town told in the end.

They won 87 points and still placed outside the top three – something only Charlton Athletic (88 in 1997-98) have done in EFL second-tier history. It was also Southampton’s third-highest points tally in a single league season, after winning 88 in the Championship in 2011-12 and 92 in the third tier on the way to promotion a season earlier.

Martin has become known as a coach for his possession-based style of play, and Southampton are now arguably the best side outside the Premier League at keeping the ball. Across the top four tiers in England this season, only Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City averaged more successful passes and successful passes in the opposition’s half, open-play sequences of 10+ passes, and build-up attacks (open-play sequences of 10+ pases ending in a shot or a touch in the opposition’s box) per game than Southampton in 2023-24.

Championship Playing Styles 2023-24

There’s little doubt Southampton will have more possession than West Brom over both legs of this semi-final, but Carlos Corberán’s side are tricky opponents for them to face, especially at the Hawthorns.

Only Ipswich (54), Leeds (53) and champions Leicester (52) won more points at home in the Championship than WBA this season (49), with the Baggies’ 15 home wins their highest total at the Hawthorns in a single league campaign since 2009-10 (16).

An interesting tactical sidenote for this game is how Southampton are one of the Championship’s best sides this season in terms of pressing high up the pitch.

No team has forced more high turnovers than them (70), while they have the best PPDA – opposition passes allowed per defensive action – in the league (10.4). West Brom, on the other hand, don’t press high up the pitch that often – only Millwall and bottom club Rotherham attempted fewer shots following high turnovers than they did in 2023-24 (39).

West Brom – who had the oldest starting XI on average across the 2023-24 Championship (28 years, 175 days) – ended the season in poor form, collecting just nine points from their final eight games. In fairness, they were near-enough confirmed as play-off certainties before a three-game losing streak in mid-April.

Southampton ended the regular season on a high, though, as they beat Leeds United 2-1 away from home thanks to goals from Adam Armstrong and Will Smallbone. That followed a three-game losing streak, with the south-coast side a more fragile proposition for West Brom than earlier in the season when they went on a club-record 25-game unbeaten run between September and February.

West Brom vs Southampton Head-to-Head

Southampton enjoyed wins both home and away against West Bromwich Albion in the regular Championship season.

Their 2-0 win at the Hawthorns in February came courtesy of Ryan Fraser and David Brooks. That was three months after Southampton enjoyed a 2-1 home win versus WBA with Armstrong scoring a winner 11 minutes from time after Kyle Bartley had equalised 14 minutes earlier.

West Brom’s last victory over Southampton came in April 2021, with a 3-0 success at home in the Championship. That result was an anomaly in the recent head-to-head, however, with Southampton winning the other seven of the last eight meetings.

Players to Watch

West Brom: Alex Mowatt

West Brom’s qualification for these play-offs is arguably down to being a strong team unit rather than due to their squad’s individual talent, but midfielder Alex Mowatt is a creative spark to keep an eye on.

His penalty in the final-day win over Preston North End was just his second goal of the season for the Baggies, while he has only assisted five of their 70 goals – Grady Diangana (8) has more. However, he leads the team rankings for chances created both overall (59) and from open play (40), while his expected assists (xA) total of 5.1 is another leading total in the WBA squad.

His importance to WBA’s build-up play is displayed by the fact that he’s been involved in 36 more open-play sequences leading to a shot than any other teammate this season, including a team-high 82 where his only involvement has been in the build-up rather than the chance creation or the shot attempt itself.

Southampton: Adam Armstrong

Armstrong has had another good season in the Championship, firing in 21 goals – the second most in the competition – and adding another 13 assists to bring his goal involvement tally to 34, which is more than any other player in the league.

Armstrong is a great Championship-level player, with 89 goal involvements in 132 second-tier appearances since the start of 2019-20 (65 goals, 24 assists). Only one other player has more than 80 Championship goal involvements over this period – that’s current West Brom midfielder Jed Wallace (82).

No player in the competition this season has been involved in more open-play sequences ending in a shot – either in the build-up, chance creation or taking the shot itself – than Armstrong (256).

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

West Brom vs Southampton Prediction

West Brom vs Southampton Prediction

West Brom are predicted to win this match by the Opta Supercomputer, as they defeated Southampton across 41.9% of pre-match simulations. The Baggies will hope to continue their excellent home form this season and take a first-leg victory to Southampton for the second leg on 17 May.

Southampton won 31.4% of the pre-match sims, and they have a decent chance of taking a positive result back to St Mary’s for the second leg – a draw is rated at a likelihood of 26.7%.

As it stands, before either of the two play-off semis have got under way, Southampton are second favourites to win the Championship play-offs (26.4%) behind Leeds United (33.2%). Saints progressed to the final in 55.5% of simulations ahead of the weekend, with WBA making it to Wembley 44.5% of the time.

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