Leeds United and Southampton will face-off on the final day of the season at Elland Road. Could that be the tie that decides the race for the second automatic promotion spot?

Leicester City’s slip-ups in the last two rounds have opened the door for rivals in the intriguing race for promotion to the Premier League.

Looking to bounce back from the 3-1 defeat at Coventry City, the Foxes could only manage a 1-1 draw against second-placed Ipswich Town last time out.

It was the second time the top two sides had cancelled each other this term by the identical 1-1 score line, dropping four points in the process. That has helped the chasing pack close the gap at the top to manageable levels.

For Leicester City, what appeared to be a commanding lead at the top of the Championship table a few weeks ago has now been whittled down to just seven points. With 54 points still on offer, there are plenty of opportunities to eat further into the Foxes’ lead.

One thing is certain, though: there will be twists and turns before the promotion race is won and lost.

How it’s shaping up

As we slowly approach the business end of the campaign, four clubs, Leicester City, Ipswich Town, Southampton, and Leeds United, have nicely positioned themselves for the final tilt.

But for Ipswich Town writing the campaign’s Cinderella story and upsetting the applecart, pre-season predictions fingering the Premier League’s three most recent dropouts as the chief protagonists in the promotion race are looking spot-on.

Ipswich who have defied the odds all season, stubbornly continue to hold on to second, although their grip on the second promotion spot is increasingly looking tenuous.

How might things pan out

A seven-point lead in a title race is quite handy, but far from being unassailable, especially with plenty of football left to play. It only takes just a short sequence of results to alter the picture dramatically.

Although on the whole, Leicester have looked quite imperious this term, establishing themselves as favourites for the first automatic promotion spot, Enzo Maresca’s men have also shown in recent weeks that they too are just mere mortals. Leicester City’s frailties exposed by Coventry City and Ipswich Town will give rivals some encouragement that the leaders can be reined in.

That said, as things stand, the first automatic promotion spot is Leicester City’s to lose. That leaves Ipswich Town, Southampton and Leeds United, separated by just two points (although Leeds United have played a game more), in what is shaping up to be a three-way battle for the second automatic promotion berth.

Southampton have the bit between the teeth at the moment. They are now right in Ipswich’s slipstream and shaping up to overtake the Tractor Boys into second place thanks to a 18-match unbeaten run.

Do Ipswich have the temperament to hold off the relentless Saints, and indeed the notoriously temperamental Leeds United, or will the Tractor Boys buckle under pressure?

All ex-Premier League play-off?

Predicting how the promotion race will unfold is a hazardous exercise.  Yet, there is one scenario that is looking increasingly likely by the day; Leicester City winning automatic promotion back to the Promised Land leaving fellow Premier League dropouts Southampton and Leeds United to slug it out for the second automatic promotion berth.

To add to the intrigue, Leeds United and Southampton will lock horns at Elland Road on the final day of the season in a match that could decide the winner of the race for the second automatic promotion spot?

Observers will hasten to caution against writing off Ipswich Town’s automatic promotion claims. However, I can’t help but feel that a lack of experience will undermine Kieran McKenna’s men’s challenge and see them fall just short.

While I’m wary of making bold predictions, football logic dictates that Leicester City, Southampton, and Leeds United’s recent Premier League experience will stand them in good stead for the promotion race ruin-in. It’s up to Ipswich Town to tear up that script and gatecrash the party.

S.# Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Leicester City 28 21 3 4 34 66
2 Ipswich Town 28 17 8 3 16 59
3 Southampton 28 17 7 4 21 58
4 Leeds United 29 17 6 6 25 57
5 West Bromwich Albion 28 13 6 9 13 45
6 Coventry City 28 11 10 7 13 43

Date Fixture Time
Tuesday, 30th January Leicester City vs Swansea City 19:45
Friday, 2nd February Bristol City vs Leeds United 20:00
Saturday, 3rd February Preston North End vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Rotherham United vs Southampton 15:00
Stoke City vs Leicester City 15:00
Saturday, 10th February Ipswich Town vs West Bromwich Albion 12:30
Leeds United vs Rotherham United 15:00
Southampton vs Huddersfield Town 15:00
Watford vs Leicester City 15:00
Tuesday, 13th February Leicester City vs Sheffield Wednesday 19:45
Swansea City vs Leeds United 19:45
Bristol City vs Southampton 20:00
Wednesday, 14th February Millwall vs Ipswich Town 20:00
Friday, 16th February West Bromwich Albion vs Southampton 20:00
Saturday, 17th February Plymouth Argyle vs Leeds United 12:30
Leicester City vs Middlesbrough 15:00
Swansea City vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Friday, 23rd February Leeds United vs Leicester City 20:00
Saturday, 24th February Ipswich Town vs Birmingham City 15:00
Southampton vs Millwall 15:00
Saturday, 2nd March Huddersfield Town vs Leeds United 12:30
Birmingham City vs Southampton 15:00
Leicester City vs Queens Park Rangers 15:00
Plymouth Argyle vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Tuesday, 5th March Leeds United vs Stoke City 19:45
Sunderland vs Leicester City 19:45
Wednesday, 6th March Southampton vs Preston North End 19:45
Saturday, 9th March Hull City vs Leicester City 15:00
Cardiff City vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Sheffield Wednesday vs Leeds United 15:00
Southampton vs Sunderland 15:00
Saturday, 16th March Leeds United vs Millwall 15:00
Leicester City vs Southampton 15:00
Ipswich Town vs Sheffield Wednesday 15:00
Friday, 29th March Bristol City vs Leicester City 12:30
Watford vs Leeds United 15:00
Southampton vs Middlesbrough 15:00
Monday, 1st April Ipswich Town vs Southampton 15:00
Leeds United vs Hull City 15:00
Leicester City vs Norwich City 15:00
Saturday, 6th April Coventry City vs Leeds United 15:00
Leicester City vs Birmingham City 15:00
Norwich City vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Blackburn Rovers vs Southampton 15:00
Tuesday, 9th April Leeds United vs Sunderland 19:45
Millwall vs Leicester City 19:45
Southampton vs Coventry City 19:45
Wednesday, 10th April Ipswich Town vs Watford 19:45
Saturday, 13th April Leeds United vs Blackburn Rovers 15:00
Plymouth Argyle vs Leicester City 15:00
Ipswich Town vs Middlesbrough 15:00
Southampton vs Watford 15:00
Saturday, 20th April Middlesbrough vs Leeds United 15:00
Leicester City vs West Bromwich Albion 15:00
Coventry City vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Cardiff City vs Southampton 15:00
Saturday, 27th April Queens Park Rangers vs Leeds United 15:00
Preston North End vs Leicester City 15:00
Hull City vs Ipswich Town 15:00
Southampton vs Stoke City 15:00
Saturday, 4th May Leeds United vs Southampton 15:00
Ipswich Town vs Huddersfield Town 15:00
Leicester City vs Blackburn Rovers 15:00

I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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