AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to maintain their excellent recent form when they host Championship rivals Luton Town at Vitality Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The Cherries climbed to the top of the table thanks to a hat-trick of wins, with Scott Parker’s team beating Barnsley, QPR and Cardiff City in the space of eight days.
Luton arrive in Dorset having drawn their past four games – at home to Sheffield United (0-0) and Swansea City (3-3) and on the road at Blackburn Rovers (2-2) and Bristol City (1-1).
The Hatters conceded an injury-time equaliser against the Swans – the Welsh outfit clawing back a 3-0 half-time deficit to claim a share of the points at Kenilworth Road last Saturday.
Nathan Jones’s team are currently 13th, having taken ten points from eight games. Their two wins came against Peterborough (3-0) and Barnsley (1-0), while their two defeats came at the hands of West Brom (3-2) and Birmingham City (5-0).
Jones, in his second spell at the club, guided them to a 12th-place finish last season, the Hatters triumphing 1-0 at Vitality Stadium in January thanks to a goal from Leicester City loan star Kieran Dewsbury-Hall.
Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Mike Simmonds who follows the fortunes of the Hatters in his capacity as sports editor for the Luton News.
LUTON TOWN PROFILE
Ground: Kenilworth Road
Nickname: The Hatters
Manager: Nathan Jones (appointed May 2020)
Club captain: Sonny Bradley
Current league position: 13th
Leading goalscorer 2021/22: Elijah Adebayo and Luke Berry (three in the Championship)
Last game: Luton Town 3-3 Swansea City (Championship)
afcb.co.uk: How has the season started for the Hatters?
MS: The season has started pretty well. They picked up two wins early on, beating Peterborough at home and winning at Barnsley, and were playing some really good football.
They then suffered a 5-0 defeat against Birmingham which rocked them a bit. But they bounced back the following week by drawing with Sheffield United which was a good result.
They have drawn their past four games, with stoppage-time equalisers at Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City, before conceding their own one against Swansea last weekend. They should have beaten Bristol City and were 3-0 up against Swansea at half-time before being pegged back.
It’s been an okay start to the season but, with the past two games, they definitely could have had another four points.
afcb.co.uk: How would you assess Nathan Jones’s second spell as manager?
MS: His second spell has been excellent. When he came back, he kept them up and I don’t think anyone else would have done that in the way he did. They looked dead and buried but he managed to save them.
They finished 12th last season with their second tier best points tally since 1981/82. They were never in danger of relegation and it was an excellent season.
He’s looking to build on that this season and they have started quite well. He’s probably got one of the best squads since he’s been at the club so his return has been really good. He’s a good fit with the club.
afcb.co.uk: Give us your take on the extraordinary incident involving Henri Lansbury (pictured above) against Swansea?
MS: It was an interesting one!
Ryan Manning tried to stop him taking the free-kick. It looks bad because he connected with the defender but he had kicked the ball out of his way as he was going to take it so I guess Lansbury had every right to try to take a quick free-kick.
Both players were booked which I think was probably fair. It’s not something I’ve seen before.
afcb.co.uk: How has former Cherries winger Harry Cornick (pictured above) started the season?
MS: He’s started really well and has scored two goals in his first two games. It took him until April to score his first goal last season.
Scoring in his first game was a real confidence booster and a weight off his shoulders. He’s played really well in the past few games.
He should have had more assists, he’s created a number of clear chances which have been missed by his team-mates.
He had a great chance to make it 4-0 against Swansea when he went one-on-one with the goalkeeper but hit the post. And he hit the bar in another game.
If he starts to take those chances, he will become an even better player.
afcb.co.uk: What has Cameron Jerome (pictured above) brought to the table?
MS: He’s brought some real experience to the team. He scored on his debut in the Carabao Cup at Stevenage and then came on against West Brom and played really well.
He offers experience and leadership to the young strikers like Elijah Adebayo who has said how much he is learning from him on the training ground and the tips he’s given him. Cameron has had a fantastic career and Elijah is just starting out.
His performances have been good. He has missed a couple of chances but he has looked good for a 35-year-old. He looks very fit and can lead the line very well. It’s been a good deal for Luton.
afcb.co.uk: Who is Luton’s one to watch?
MS: At the moment, it’s Elijah Adebayo (pictured below).
He scored twice against Swansea, a really good penalty and a good finish after a great team move. He had an illness and missed a game recently but he looked back to his best against Swansea.
He held up the ball well and was always a threat up front. He was good defensively as well.
His confidence will have been boosted by two goals because he hadn’t scored since the first game of the season.
He’s good in the air as well so if they can create chances for him, he will be looking to tuck them away.
afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either suspended or injured against the Cherries?
MS: There are no suspensions at the moment but they have a long injury list.
Fred Onyedinma and Allan Campbell are both out with ligament damage.
Danny Hylton missed the Swansea game with a calf injury so he’ll be a doubt as is Sonny Bradley with a hip problem.
Admiral Muskwe has missed the past two games so he’ll be touch and go as well.
Onyedinma and Campbell are definitely out and the other three are doubts along with Dan Potts who hasn’t featured for a while.
They have a lot of injuries which have hampered their start to the season because Nathan Jones hasn’t been able to pick from his strongest squad yet.
afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?
MS: I will go with a 3-1 win to Bournemouth. I just think with the way Bournemouth are playing, they may have too much for Luton.
I know Luton won there last season, but I think with all the injuries, the Cherries might just come out on top this time.
You can follow Mike on Twitter – @LutonNews_LTFC
Officials: Tim Robinson (referee), Lee Venamore (assistant), Michael George (assistant), James Linington (fourth official).