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Preview: Luton Town vs Chelsea – prediction, team news, line-ups

Saturday’s Premier League programme commences at Kenilworth Road with a high-stakes clash between Luton Town and Chelsea. 

Despite spending most of their top-flight adventure in the drop zone, the Hatters could enter the new calendar year outside the bottom three with a win. 

Rob Edwards’ side paid tribute to convalescing captain Tim Lockyer with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph against Newcastle United in their last home league outing. 

Lockyer collapsed on the pitch during Luton’s trip to Bournemouth, causing the abandonment of the game at the Vitality Stadium a fortnight ago. But it also proved a spark they needed to get back on track. 

Buoyed by an unexpected win against the Magpies, Luton came from behind to beat fellow promoted rivals Sheffield United 3-2 on Boxing Day, closing the gap on 17th-placed Everton to a single point.

With a game in hand, they are in a decent position to find a way out of the relegation territory, though Chelsea won’t touch down in Bedfordshire to make friends. 

Mauricio Pochettino’s underachieving squad eked out a last-gasp 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night to regain some confidence after a dismal 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Losing at Molineux in the first Premier League fixture held on Christmas Eve in almost three decades marked the Blues’ fourth consecutive league loss on the road. 

Staring down the barrel of a five-match losing streak in away top-flight action for the first time since 2000, Chelsea will be out to make amends and bolster their pursuit of the European spots.

Match Preview

Luton’s last three Premier League matches at Kenilworth Road have seen them lock horns with this season’s Champions League participants, namely Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle. 

But while they outscored Eddie Howe’s injury-ravaged team, the Hatters lost to the other two via a single-goal margin despite taking the lead on both occasions. 

Another evenly-contested affair could be on the cards, considering none of Luton’s nine home league games this season has yielded a full-time margin of more than one goal (W2, D2, L5). 

That was also the case when they faced Chelsea in last season’s FA Cup last-16 as they succumbed to a 3-2 defeat before being humbled 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge this term.

Given Chelsea’s immense struggles on the road, Kenilworth Road looks like a perfect environment for the visitors to post their first Premier League win outside London for the first time since early October. 

In search of good omens, the Blues’ last league victory away from the capital saw them thump another promoted side Burnley 4-1 at Turf Moor in arguably their best away performance of 2023/24.

However, Pochettino can’t take anything for granted. Despite overcoming Palace in midweek top-flight action, Chelsea have set an unwanted club record, conceding 59 league goals in one calendar year. 

Their defensive woes have been the main stumbling block on their recent travels, with the London outfit allowing a worrying average of 2.5 goals per game across their last four league trips. 

Team News

In addition to Lockyer, Luton will be without long-term absentees Dan Potts, Issa Kabore and Reece Burke. But the rest of Edwards’ squad is fit and ready.

Robert Sanchez, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Reece James, Carney Chukwuemeka and Enzo Fernandez are still out injured for Chelsea. 

Romeo Lavia made his Blues debut on Wednesday, coming on as a second-half substitute, but he’s more likely to start on the bench again.

On a more positive note, Cole Palmer returns from a one-game ban. 

Luton Town potential starting line-up:

(3-4-2-1): Thomas Kaminski; Teden Mengi, Gabriel Osho, Amari’i Bell; Alfie Doughty, Ross Barkley, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ryan Giles; Andros Townsend, Jacob Brown; Elijah Adebayo. 

Chelsea potential starting line-up: 

(4-2-1-3): Djordje Petrovic; Malo Gusto, Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill; Conor Gallagher, Moises Caicedo; Mykhailo Mudryk, Cole Palmer, Christopher Nkunku; Nicolas Jackson. 

We Say: Luton Town 1-1 Chelsea

As the most profligate attack in the Premier League, Chelsea’s best hope of taking home three points is to keep Luton at bay.

But given their propensity for conceding cheap goals and the Hatters’ free-scoring home form, we can envisage a scoring draw. 

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