Saturday’s Premier League action starts with a ‘David vs Goliath’ clash at Kenilworth Road as newcomers Luton Town take on high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.
When the Hatters stunned Goodison Park into silence with a 2-1 triumph against Everton last weekend, it looked like they could be gaining a foothold in their first top-flight experience in over three decades.
But another harsh reality check came in no time as fellow promoted rivals Burnley defeated Rob Edwards’ team 2-1 at this stadium on Tuesday, overshadowing their first-ever Premier League victory.
As we predicted in our 2023/24 Luton season preview, a campaign-long fight against the drop is a near-certainty for the home side, even though they commence this round a place above the relegation zone.
Following a late heartbreak against the Clarets, Edwards stated he and his players ‘are left deflated’ via Burnley Express, but they’ll need to shrug off the stress to stand a chance against a rampant Tottenham side.
Joel Matip’s last-gasp own goal propelled Spurs to a 2-1 home win over nine-man Liverpool last weekend, sealing their joint-best seven-game start to a new Premier League season (W5, D2).
One of the most bizarre VAR errors in a long line of controversial calls saw referee Darren England give Ange Postecoglou’s side a decisive nudge by disallowing what would’ve been Luis Diaz’s opener.
While the under-fire match official duly paid the price, the north London giants have climbed up the ladder, moving within a single-point distance of pacesetters Manchester City.
As the likeliest candidates to suffer the drop come May 2024, you’d expect Luton to mainly rely on their home fixtures in pursuit of much-needed points.
However, it has not been the case in the early goings, with Edwards’ strugglers picking up just one point in their opening three Premier League outings at Kenilworth Road (D1, L2).
Luton’s defensive frailties have proved the biggest obstacle to their progress in the elite society as they come into proceedings seeking their first clean sheet of the season.
The Hatters’ notoriously slow home starts have seen them concede the opening goal in all three home league matches this season, so it stands to reason Edwards would expect more urgency from his men early on.
Tottenham’s outstanding start to life under Postecoglou has exceeded our 2023/24 expectations, but the Australian manager has to go a long way to halt Spurs’ 16-year title duck.
From where Postecoglou stands now, the sky seems to be the limit after the victory over Liverpool saw him become the first Spurs boss to see his side net 2+ goals in his first seven Premier League games in charge.
Playing on the road shouldn’t bother Tottenham, considering they’ve fared reasonably well outside their stadium this season (W2, D2), including a 5-2 demolition of Luton’s midweek executioners, Burnley.
Delivering action from the get-go, the visitors have found the back of the net before half-time across all four top-flight travels this term, highlighting the potential for a quick-fire start.
Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga has been the latest Luton player to pick up an injury, joining long-term absentees Gabriel Osho, Dan Potts and Jordan Clark in the treatment room.
Meanwhile, the injury crisis at Tottenham has yet to subside, with Bryan Gil, Ryan Sessegnon, Rodrigo Bentancur and Ivan Perisic still recovering from niggling fitness problems.
Postecoglou can at least hope to have summer arrival Brennan Johnson back from a minor hamstring issue.
Luton Town potential starting line-up:
(5-2-2-1): Thomas Kaminski; Issa Kabore, Reece Burke, Tom Lockyer, Teden Mengi, Alfie Doughty; Marvelous Nakamba, Pelly Rudock Mpanzu; Chiedozie Ogbene, Elijah Adebayo; Carlton Morris.
Tottenham Hotspur potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Guglielmo Vicario; Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie; Pape Matar Sarr, Yves Bissouma; Dejan Kulusevski, James Maddison, Richarlison; Heung-min Son.
We Say: Luton Town 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham’s backline hasn’t exactly been a force to be reckoned with during Postecoglou’s early regime, with Burnley and Sheffield United managing to beat Guglielmo Vicario.
We back the only remaining newcomers to trouble the scoreboard, which would likely be a consolation goal unless they can disrupt the perfect chemistry between James Maddison and Heung-min Son.
That looks far-fetched, though.
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