Leeds at the Hawthorns to see out the year

West Bromwich Albion v Leeds United; The Hawthorns, Friday 29th December 2023, 8.15pm

Albion’s final game of 2023 sees Leeds United visit the Hawthorns in a game between two of the teams currently occupying the play-off positions. Since the Baggies claimed a point at Elland Road in August, when Leeds boss Daniel Farke was still getting to grips with an unsettled squad, the West Yorkshire side have enjoyed an excellent run of form and are six points ahead of their hosts ahead of the game.

While the Whites have remained unbeaten at home, their form on the road has been less imperious and they have suffered a few unexpected defeats, not least losing 2-1 at Preston North End on Boxing Day. They will be without their first choice goalkeeper, Illan Meslier, after he received a red card for a petulant push in the face of Milutin Osmajić at Deepdale, meaning that former Newcastle ‘keeper Karl Darlow is likely to be between the posts after his summer move from St James’s Park. Injury also sees Leeds’ goalscorer from the game at Elland Road in August, Luke Ayling, ruled out, along with Jamie Shackleton and Stuart Dallas, but left back Sam Byram is available having been missing for a few weeks.

Tuesday’s defeat was their fifth on the road and it also means that Farke’s side have won only one of their last four having also been beaten at Sunderland and held to a draw by Coventry City at Elland Road. However, their one victory in that spell was an emphatic 4-0 demolition of Ipswich Town as they became only the second side, after Albion of course, to prevent Kieran McKenna’s second-placed Tractor Boys from scoring this season. Southampton’s victory on Boxing Day means that Leeds have dropped down to fourth, one place but six points ahead of the Baggies.

Leeds’ run before that last four games was mightily impressive winning nine of eleven matches from the beginning of October with a defeat to Stoke City and a draw at Rotherham United the only blemishes in that spell. However, with the top two registering in excess of 2.2 points per game, they remain eight points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

The Whites principle attacking threats are Crysencio Summerville, Joël Piroe and Daniel James who have scored 27 of their 42 goals between them. Summerville was one of the players, along with Willy Gnonto, who were guilty of disrupting the early season period with their desire to leave the club, but once he was persuaded to stay, he has knuckled down and arguably been their most important player and he leads the scoring charts with eleven goals. Piroe was a very astute signing from Swansea City and his excellent form and nine goals are keeping Patrick Bamford on the bench, while former Manchester United winger Dan James is also enjoying a very good campaign having scored seven goals already. Gnonto, whose desire to leave was much stronger than Summerville, has largely had to be content with a place on the bench.

For Carlos Corberán, he doesn’t have the luxury to have players of the pedigree of Gnonto and Bamford on the bench and better players in the starting line up. There is a chance, however, that his options may be improved for Friday’s game with the news that Daryl Dike is actively being considered for a place in the squad. Should he come through training this week with no ill effects, the club medical staff may give the go ahead for his inclusion. Whether it happens on Friday, or in one of the next couple of games, it will be a welcome boost with Brandon Thomas-Asante potentially in line for a call up to the Ghana squad.

John Swift and Jed Wallace were both on top form on Tuesday, and they will need to be so again if the Baggies are to prevail. Swift was withdrawn against Norwich having felt a little soreness in his calf so we can only hope that was just precautionary and he will be available to start. Pipa was missing from the squad on Tuesday having picked up an injury at the Riverside, and it is unclear whether he will be fit enough to be included.

Unless any other injuries come to light, I would guess Corberán’s main decisions will be around the front four. I suspect he will start the same four as on Tuesday if he is able to, but I guess Sarmiento may be in with a shout of a start and, of course, we are yet to see Tom Fellows from the first whistle this season. I don’t expect to see any other changes and I hope that Bartley’s withdrawal late on against Norwich was merely a precaution and nothing more sinister as regards his fitness.

Leeds are undoubtedly one of the best sides in the Championship and the Baggies have reserved some of their best performances for the games against the best. Games at Southampton and at home to Leicester City were lost, but not deservedly so, while Ipswich Town were well beaten. The result in each of those matches was down to the quality in both boxes at the right time – if Albion can produce that quality when needed, they are more than capable of taking another three points in front of another sell out crowd.


For the third season in succession in which the two clubs have shared a division, the Hawthorns fixture has fallen over the festive period. In 2019/20, the two clubs were battling at the top of the Championship and were level on points going into the New Year’s Day fixture with the visitors ahead on goal difference – Semi Ajayi scored at both ends on that day and the game finished 1-1. Almost a year later, the clubs were experiencing very different campaigns in the behind-closed-doors Premier League season and the game was, like this match, the final game of the calendar year. Sam Allardyce was still struggling to get a handle on his new team and the visitors ran out 5-0 winners, not surprisingly the Whites’ biggest ever win at the Hawthorns.

Leeds hold the edge in the head-to-head statistics with 38 wins to 33 in all competitions in a fixture that was first held almost a century ago in a Division One match at the Hawthorns in October 1924. A brace from George James and another from Joe Carter saw the hosts win 3-1. Leeds United had been formed in 1919 following the forced disbandment of Leeds City for illegal payments to players – they joined the Football League in 1920 winning promotion to the top flight in 1924.

With Albion winning the first four fixtures between the sides, Leeds finally prevailed in November 1926 in a match at the Hawthorns. George James scored another brace for the hosts but Tom Mitchell scored twice for the visitors while goals from Percy Whipp and Jack Armand made the final score 4-2.

The Baggies biggest win in this fixture came a few years later in October 1934 with the legendary Ginger Richardson the star of the day. He scored twice in the opening 16 minutes before Jack Milburn, the cousin of the Geordie favourite Jackie, pulled one back from the spot just after the half hour. Richardson completed his hat trick a few minutes later and all was quiet for a while until Wally Boyes made it 4-1 with 16 minutes left. Joe Carter made it 5-1 before Jack Mahon scored for the visitors to make it 5-2 with 10 minutes left. Richardson scored his fourth of the game but there was still time for Harry Duggan to score another for Leeds and make the final score 6-3.

Albion had enjoyed a good recent record over Leeds since the late eighties with the 3-1 home defeat in their first ever Premier League game at the Hawthorns in 2002 the only game they lost to the Whites between 1989 and 2019, the last game in that spell being a 4-1 win over Bielsa’s team in November 2018. That run was emphatically ended by the 4-0 thumping at Elland Road the following March and the Baggies have only claimed two points from the five games since.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L L W D L W
Leeds United W W L D W L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

18 Aug 2023 – League Championship
Leeds United 1 (Ayling)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Thomas-Asante)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

29 Dec 2020 – Premier League
West Bromwich Albion 0
Leeds United 5 (Sawyers (o.g.), Alioski, Harrison, Rodrigo, Raphinha)

Last win

10 Nov 2018 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 4 (Robson-Kanu, Phillips, Barnes, Gayle)
Leeds United 1 (Hernández)

Albion’s Record against Leeds United

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 81 29 17 35 110 127   40 20 6 14 68 55
FA Cup 6 3 1 2 10 12   3 3 0 0 7 2
League Cup 4 1 2 1 4 3   1 0 1 0 0 0
Total 91 33 20 38 124 142   44 23 7 14 75 57

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