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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Luton Town

Mike Simmonds looks ahead to what The Hatters will bring

29 November 2019

This season saw Luton return to the Sky Bet Championship for the first time since the 2006/07 campaign – what have you made of what you’ve seen so far?

Although recent results have slightly skewed Town’s start to life in the Championship once more, they can on the whole be fairly pleased with how they have begun, against a division that is incredibly strong this season. Performances have generally been good, with Town looking excellent in beating Barnsley, Blackburn, Huddersfield and especially Bristol City.
They have been unlucky in a few outings as well, conceding a last-minute winner at Cardiff and getting beaten late on by a dubious goal at Birmingham too.
However, it’s results that ultimately matter and with 11 defeats from 18 games, then they do need to find a way to pick up some more points, particularly on their travels, while improving a record of just one clean sheet too.

At the time of speaking (before Saturday's game against Leeds United) the Hatters are on a four-match losing streak that has left them on the brink of the relegation zone. How much pressure is Graeme Jones under, would you say?

There is always pressure on a manager when he has lost four games in a row, such is the nature of football these days, but any that Jones is under would come from outside the club.
Most supporters would, or at least should, have expected it to be a relegation battle this term, after what is a huge step up in quality following back-to-back promotions from League Two.
The board are fully behind their manager having waited to appoint him after he left West Bromwich Albion last season, not wanting to rock the boat with Mick Harford doing a superb job in leading Luton to the Championship.
They will have a realistic approach, knowing that budget-wise, Town will be dwarfed by most clubs at this level, and aren't expected to do anything rash or panic even if the Hatters do suffer a run of defeats. 

This game marks the first occasion the two sides have met since the final day of the 2008/09 season, when Brentford finished as League Two champions, with Luton being relegated to the Conference. That must seem like a world away now…

Luton have gone through some very dark days since that season, having been relegated to non-league, a punishment that was incredibly harsh, given the penalties that have been handed out to other clubs since.
It still quite rightly angers supporters these days, who will never forgive the FA for their part in such a ruling. Although Town spent a good number of seasons more than they would have wanted in the Conference, it has seen a real spirit and unity built between the owners, 2020, who deserve huge credit for the way they have handled affairs since taking over, the team, and supporters.
It was always only a matter of time before the Hatters did get back into the league, a feat John Still managed, while once they had done so, the pressure was almost off in the Football League, and that has seen the club flourish since.

Which player has impressed you the most this season?

There have been a number of players to catch the eye at Luton so far this term, with James Collins making a fine start to life in the Championship, scoring five in his first nine matches, before enduring a mini-drought (which will have hopefully ended by the time this game comes around).
Striker partner Harry Cornick has also adapted well to the step-up in quality, but the player who is making Town tick at the moment is on-loan Chelsea attacking midfielder Izzy Brown (pictured above).
After arriving following a season of injury problems which wrecked his time at Leeds United, he appears to have put that behind him now, and has been Luton’s main creative source, with five assists. If he can stay fit, then he could be a huge player in the Hatters’ bid to stay up.

How is Graeme Jones likely to set up his side at Griffin Park?

He has shown that he can be flexible in his approach to games, happy to play a possession-based style, but also hit teams on the counter-attack as well. Depending on how the matches against Leeds and Charlton have gone, and the players available to him, then he could well opt for his preferred diamond formation, that can also quickly become a 4-3-3 as well when in transition, utilising the pace of players like Cornick.

What’s your score prediction for the game?

I think it could be quite an open game with chances for both sides, but would have to opt for a Brentford victory, 3-1.

We're expecting another bumper crowd on Saturday with availability very limited in the Ealing Road and limited in all other areas of the ground.

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