If you lack a balanced game plan, the Premier League is so ruthless and unforgiving that it will eat you up and spit you out.
Luton’s season needs to start on Saturday, at home to Wolves. They have sleepwalked to the bottom of the table after four defeats in which they have mustered a measly seven shots on target and now is the time to wake up.
I’ve seen a whole-hearted dedication to defending from Rob Edwards’ team, but nowhere near enough commitment to attacking. There needs to be a better balance and this is the beginning of a three-game run against opponents in the bottom five — Wolves at home, Everton away, Burnley at home — which will shape their season.
Luton need to cut loose and show some of the personality and character which got them to the Premier League in the first place. More shots. More crosses. More headers.
Against Fulham last weekend, there was not enough attacking intent and they didn’t press high up the pitch. Instead, they retreated to within 10 yards of their own box, which allowed Fulham to dictate the play, grow in confidence and attack freely.
Luton Town have a whole-hearted dedication to defending but they must show more commitment to attacking
Jacob Brown was so hellbent on tracking Timothy Castagne that he was practically playing the role of a sixth defender
Jacob Brown, playing up top with Carlton Morris in Luton’s 5-3-2 system, was so hellbent on tracking Fulham left back Timothy Castagne that he was practically playing the role of a sixth defender. When you sacrifice attackers to that extent, any chance of hurting your opponent on the counter becomes nigh on impossible.
It only takes one mistake to undo all of your hard work, which happened when Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski spilled the ball to Carlos Vinicius for Fulham’s winner. On the very rare occasions when Luton tried to make use of their front players, they posed problems. But the attackers were surviving on scraps.
Luton can take inspiration from other promoted clubs who adapted to the Premier League, and Brentford boss Thomas Frank was a fascinating listen on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. Brentford use five at the back against the ‘top six’ opponents, but when they feel they can go after teams, they use four.
Brentford’s Thomas Frank serves as inspiration for finding a way to adapt to the top flight
Maybe now is the time for Luton to move away from a back five with a run of games against opponents in the bottom five
Maybe now it is time for Luton to move away from a back five. This season, they have averaged 31 per cent possession — the lowest in the Premier League — and are only completing 206 passes per game on average. Luton’s ultimate aim is to make sure they are better than just three other teams and survive.
We have seen signs of life from Burnley, who are sticking to their beliefs under Vincent Kompany, but now it is Luton’s turn. Kenilworth Road wasn’t ready for the start of the season. The team hasn’t looked ready, either. But if they are to stand any chance of surviving, Saturday needs to be the game in which they show some attacking intent. There is no time to lose if they’re going to stay up.