Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Reading FC Season Review | 2020/2021

When your season starts with your manager having to watch your opening match from the hotel because he's not been hired in time to beat the quarantine, anything above getting relegated should probably be classed as a success. And Reading exceeded surely even the most optimistic of pre-season predictions. Veljko Paunovic Veljko Paunovic almost exclusively utilised a core group of players in a 4-2-3-1, only changing things when enforced. One of the consequences of that is that Reading had more players play over 3,000 minutes than any other side (roughly three-quarters of the season). That consistency is often seen as a good thing, but in a condensed season, it surely contributed to the injury woes. It can't have helped that the manager also used the second-fewest number of players over the course of the season. His substitutions were often categorised as late (Reading's subs played just 16 minutes on average, only Norwich's played fewer) or non-existent (Reading were 19t

The Big Man Cometh

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself a bit of an Andy Carroll sceptic. Reading have a penchant for signing players that spend the majority of their time in the physio room, and Carroll aligns with that transfer policy to a tee. It must be said that given the lack of other options, and a short term deal that has no real risk for the club, there isn't any big downside in gambling on the Geordie. With that being said, even I was calling out for the introduction for The Big Man at half-time on Saturday. Reading had a heap of possession just outside the box in the opening forty-five but couldn't translate that into chances. Drinkwater had a tame shot saved after good work from Yiadom, but the best chance of the half fell to Puscas after a fortuitous deflection off a Forest player. The flag went up for offside but it didn't matter as the striker couldn't convert anyway. Both managers had done a fairly good job at negating the other side's strengths. Forest'

"We’ve never been so flat"

There have been some abysmal Reading performances this season, I don't really need to list them out. But in that dirge, there are two performances that I haven't fully come to terms with my feelings on. The visits of Sheffield United and Luton to The SCL are a clash between feeling like the concept behind the tactics was  reasonable and the implementation clearly not working. But there's one issue with my reading of the game; Veljko himself wasn't happy with either performance. In fact, he used the exact same word to label both - 'flat'. Reading's three in midfield meant they could cover SU attacking midfielders and wing backs And yet, the set-ups for both seem to perfectly explain why the team may be flat. Against The Blades they switched to a 4-3-2-1, with Ejaria dropping deeper to form the three alongside Drinkwater and Laurent. That trio were effectively tasked with stopping McGoldrick and Gibbs-White from being able to come central. On Wednesday we may