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First Team

Media View: Expert insight on Luton


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to pick up three points when they face Luton Town for the first time in the Premier League at Vitality Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm kick-off).

The game will complete the set of the teams having locked horns in all four divisions as well as the FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy.

It has been rescheduled having been abandoned with the score level at 1-1 after Hatters captain Tom Lockyer collapsed on the pitch in December.

Since then, Luton have collected 12 points from 11 games in the top flight, beating Newcastle (1-0), Sheffield United (3-2) and Brighton (4-0) as well as drawing with Burnley (1-1), Newcastle (4-4) and Crystal Palace (1-1).

Ahead of Wednesday’s clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Simon Oxley who covers the fortunes of the Hatters for BBC Three Counties Radio.


Founded: 1885

Ground: Kenilworth Road

Nickname: The Hatters

Record appearances: Bob Morton – 562 games (1948-64)

Record goalscorer: Gordon Turner – 276 goals in 450 games

Manager: Rob Edwards (appointed November 2022)

Club captain: Tom Lockyer (pictured above)

League position: 18th

Leading goalscorer: Elijah Adebayo (nine in the Premier League)

Last game: Crystal Palace 1 Luton Town 1 (Premier League)

afcb.co.uk: How would you assess their current form?

SO: Given all the injuries and some of the recent opposition, they are doing as well as could be expected and, arguably, better.

They started picking up some positive results, beating Brighton 4-0 and drawing 4-4 at Newcastle but then there was a setback against Sheffield United.

Then, they had a tough run of matches where they acquitted themselves well but came out on the wrong end of results against Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa and against Manchester City in the FA Cup.

There were positives to take from all of them, leading at Anfield and having a right go at City. Villa won late in the second half and it was a really difficult one to take having come back to 2-2.

But then you balance that with on Saturday when they were probably second best for most of it against Palace and scored right at the death.

It’s an absolute rollercoaster of varying emotions but they have given themselves a chance.

Points deductions notwithstanding, they are still in with a chance of staying up, which is probably more than people expected by this point.

afcb.co.uk: According to Opta, the Hatters are likely to be relegated with 31.08 points – what do you think?

SO: I think home matches are going to be key. They have got to play like they did for 40 minutes of the second half against Villa in all of every game, particularly at home.

That performance for the most part of the second half you would hope would lift them above that total. But it’s going to be difficult.

They have learned the hard way because I think everyone thought they would get three points against Sheffield United and they lost 3-1.

They have got to start picking up points at home because it’s all well and good saying, we’re in there, but the games are running out and before you know where you are they will have gone.

Home matches are going to be especially important because after Bournemouth, they have got trips to Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City.

The away games aren’t particularly helpful so it’s going to have to be done at home which was probably always going to be the way. I’d like to think they will get a few more than that but it remains to be seen.

afcb.co.uk: How do you think Rob Edwards has adjusted to life in the PL?

SO: It’s been a learning process for everybody and that would include him. He has adjusted the way the team plays and has been front and centre of everything that Luton have done on and off the pitch.

He has impressed everybody with his honesty and integrity. It was always going to be a test and he has had a huge amount to deal with.

Seeing his club captain collapse on the pitch in front of him, you can’t learn how to deal with that on any coaching course.

You can go on all the courses you like and prepare for all eventualities but there are some things you just can’t prepare for and that would be one of them.

He has impressed everybody at the club, players, officials and supporters, with the way he has handled himself.

afcb.co.uk: Give us a word on Andros Townsend (pictured above)? 

SO: He has had to be patient to get up to full match fitness. But he is one of those who is having an impact off the pitch as well as on it.

On it, he has played some important roles, including the cross for the stoppage time equaliser against Palace.

He is another one who is proving his value off the pitch within the group, passing on his experience and the way he conducts himself. There is a lot he is adding both on and off the pitch.

afcb.co.uk: Who is their rising star?

SO: Issa Kabore (pictured above), who is on loan from Manchester City.

He has coped very well with coming back to the English game having spent time away in France playing at Marseille last season.

He has had difficult moments and was probably at fault for the winning goal against Aston Villa.

But at the same time, he has had some outstanding moments particularly in that game up until that point and he played very well against Palace.

He had to cope with going away to AFCON with Burkina Faso.

Sometimes you are never sure with a loan player whether they will feel it in the same way.

But from what we have seen, he certainly is. He is a Luton player who happens to belong to Manchester City! He is very much part of everything Luton are doing.

afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either injured or suspended against the Cherries?

SO: Lots!

At the moment, injuries are the issue. They are missing Tom Lockyer’s influence and Sambi Lokonga, Elijah Adebayo (pictured above) and Jacob Brown have all been out recently.

Longer term, Marvelous Nakamba is pretty much missing for the rest of the season.

There are a few defenders who have been missing so people have had to slot in.

It is a case of seeing who is fit before he picks the team, particularly with an extra game thrown in.

It’s something we were used to in the Championship but you become used to the Premier League being mostly weekend to weekend.

It’s a difficult balancing act. You want people back as soon as possible but, at the same time, he might have half-an-eye on the game at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday as to who comes in and who has to bide their time for a bit longer.

afcb.co.uk: How do you see this one panning out and what’s your score prediction? 

SO: It’s difficult to know.

The Palace game will have taken a lot out of them but, at the same time, it ended on a high and it must have felt like winning to get that late equaliser. Hopefully, that will carry on.

They have got to start better than they have done of late. That has been a weakness.

Bournemouth are coming into it after being caught by Sheffield United and had to come back themselves so they will want to start as they finished on Saturday as well.

It was a draw when it was called off in December and I think Luton would take the same outcome over 90 minutes.

You can follow Simon on X (formerly Twitter) – @SimonOxley9

Officials: Sam Allison (referee), Marc Perry (assistant), Steven Meredith (assistant), Simon Hooper (fourth official), Michael Oliver (VAR).

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