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Scout Report: Luton Town

Luton have struggled in their first season back in the Championship. Last season the club won back-to-back promotions, masterminded by Nathan Jones. Jones left, controversially, halfway through the year to see out a disastrous ten-month spell with Stoke. Club legend Mick Harford took over on an interim basis and finished the job of winning the league by basically doing exactly what Jones had done, but he was never planning on taking over on a permanent basis. So in the summer, Luton fell back on their tried-and-tested method of appointing an untried-and-untested Jones, this time in the form of Graeme.

Over the course of the season, he made some interesting decisions - like playing twenty goal-a-season striker James Collins in a deeper role - and it was unsurprising that he was shown the door during lockdown with the OG Jones available again, especially considering he can save Luton from relegation before he ever has to face fans. Both Graeme and Nathan have combined to create a six-match unbeaten run that spans the suspension of the league - a win and a pair of draws before lockdown, and a win and a pair of draws after lockdown. 

This is a best guess at how Luton could line up

It's difficult to know how Luton will line up, given the new manager and the amount of rotation since the restart. On the whole, they've stuck with the 4-4-2 diamond that got them to this level, but Nathan Jones' star full-backs - Jack Stacey and James Justin - both secured moves to the Premier League after their promotion last season. Enter Dan Potts, who has been at the club for half a decade, and one of the newcomers, Martin Cranie and James Bree. Against Leeds they did go to a back five, but I find it highly unlikely they'll need to against Reading.

Simon Sluga's form has mirrored the club's. Costing them key goals, up until this run of form that has seen him pick up four clean sheets in nine matches. The fact he didn't have to make a save against Middlesbrough being slightly evened out by the fact he allowed 3 goals on 2 shots on target in the very next match. Either way his save percentage over the last nine games has rocketed to .818, substantially eclipsing his .650 over the course of the whole season.

Cameron Carter-Vickers has been crucial to the improvement of the side after his loan move on the final day of the January transfer window. Luton went from shipping goals for fun to a neutral goal difference, conceding less than a goal a game, over the nine matches he's played in. (For reference his centre back partner, Matty Pearson, is on -29 over the season so far).

Going forward James Collins leads their scoring charts. The Republic of Ireland striker gets in the right positions, and often capitalists. He's scored four goals inside the six-yard box - only one fewer than the entire Reading side. He doesn't do too much in the build-up, he's not too skilful or too quick, but he's an 'old-fashioned' centre forward. Much like Watkins midweek, I'd expect Moore and Morrison to be in for a bit of a battle.

Talking of Morrison, I'd be worried about him dwelling on the ball when Harry Cornick is about. The former Cherry has been crucial for The Hatters since the restart, often deployed to some effect on the counter. His goal at Leeds is a great example. The home side lose the ball, Tunnicliffe takes one touch then plays a great ball for Cornick to run onto. The defending is a little suspect - he shouldn't even have the option to bend it into the top corner, but it's exactly what he manages to do.

Izzy Brown drifts wide on the right hand side, before putting in a wonderful ball for Collins to get on the end of

The final key piece of the Joneses' squads has been Izzy Brown, the side's main creator. The Chelsea loanee plays the most key passes, completes the most dribbles, and has the most assists. He is, however, injury-prone, so they've been without their best player for large parts of the year. Another classic Luton ploy was evident at The Liberty Stadium when Brown on the right crossed for Collins to head home. In some ways, Brown is the player you want Ejaria to be, seemingly more direct and happier to play at a higher tempo.

It's difficult to do any proper analysis given so much has changed at the club. Elliot Lee, a mainstay of N Jones' team - made his first start since the opening day in a post-lockdown win at Swansea. Last time out I hyped Luton, and they failed to deliver. I'd be very surprised if we see the same sort of performance this time.


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