In the first fixture of the new season, Luton Town make their return to the Championship at home to Middlesbrough, who replaced Tony Pulis with Jonathan Woodgate during the summer.
Luton’s rise back to the second division will be an emotional and electric affair. The hosts are likely to create a villainous atmosphere to help their team secure the first three points of the season.
It will also be Graeme Jones’ debut fixture as manager of a club. While his plans for the season may have been disrupted by various key players leaving the club, there are still ways that Luton can hurt their opponents. We look at three ways they can…
Supplying James Collins
The most obvious and clear strategy for Luton is to supply the striker who scored 25 goals last season. Collins 6’2 size and his versatile method of finishing are key traits to his style. As well as this, he showed last season he has he knowledge to put himself into a goal-scoring position through his use of moment off the ball.
Despite this, he will have a tougher experience finding the pockets of space in Middlesbrough defence with experienced Championship opposition. This will make it ever more important for the Hatters to supply their main striker with the right chances, and hope he can carry on his lethal form.
The LuaLua factor
Kazenga LuaLua has struggled to find the form in recent season that helped Brighton win promotion to the Premier League. However, he is still is a useful impact sub. His contribution of three goals and nine assists from 22 appearances helped to propel the Hatters to becoming champions.
His style allows him to create hysteria in the opposition’s defence through his zippy pace and innovative skill. His direct attacking mindset also injects optimism into crowd which will be crucial if Middlesbrough are able to quieten the atmosphere.
As said previously, the hostile atmosphere that Luton’s supporters are likely to create will play a deciding factor in this tie. A volatile stadium will breathe confidence into the Hatters and continue the momentum from last season.
Middlesbrough will most likely start numerous experienced players, like George Friend, Ryan Shotton and Darren Randolph, who will look to manipulate the atmosphere to suit them. Nonetheless, it could prove even more difficult for them to do this in this situation. The Luton supporters will be ready to make their return to the Championship a game to remember.