Can Luton Town cause a surprise and avoid relegation from the Premier League?
The new Premier League season is here and fans of the 20 clubs will be strapping themselves in for another nine-month rollercoaster ride of shifting emotions. One group of supporters who will be revelling in the atmosphere will be Championship play-off winners Luton Town.
The Hatters will still be pinching themselves from their penalty shootout victory over Coventry City at Wembley Stadium in May, which saw the Bedfordshire side become the first side in history to go from Non-League to the Premier League.
It’s been a remarkable rise to prominence for Luton, with their journey from the Conference to the Premier League taking just a decade. The fact they have done it while fighting in the face of adversity and on a shoestring budget makes the Hatters’ fairy-tale story all the better.
However, Luton’s top-flight dream could very turn into a nightmare as Rob Edwards’ side are being heavily backed to finishing rock bottom in the table by many fans and pundits alike, and that is fairly reflected in the Premier League relegation odds as they are as short as 4/11 to drop back down to the Championship at the first time of asking.
When you take into consideration everything like their squad, budget and so on, it’s no surprise to see Luton favoured to finish 20th this season. In fact, some have even gone as far as to state that the Hatters would do well to even better Derby County’s lowest-ever points tally (11) during their infamous campaign in 2007-08.
While it seems highly improbable that Luton will fail to pick up at least 11 points and, therefore, become the new worst team in Premier League history, even the most optimistic Hatter will be somewhat sceptical when asked about their survival hopes.
But is there a chance that Edwards could pull off the unthinkable and keep Luton in the Premier League beyond the conclusion of the 2023-24 campaign? After all, they’ve already overachieved by even reaching the pinnacle of English football and why would they stop believing now when once again faced with an uphill task?
Indeed, they might have what looks to be one of the weakest squads in the Premier League on paper. But again, that hasn’t stopped them in the past as they gained promotion to the top flight with what many deemed not a good enough squad to compete in the Championship and they could surprise a few again here by avoiding relegation.
That’s because they are well drilled and set up perfectly for every kind of opponent, while the unity and togetherness within the squad and in the dressing room at Kenilworth Road are much more important than the role of the players as individuals when they pull on the orange strip.
It will be interesting to see how someone like Ross Barkley slots into that. The England international arrived as a free agent this summer as he looks to get his career back on track after failed stints at Chelsea, Aston Villa and Nice. If he is really up for the task and willing to rediscover his best form, then this could prove to be a fantastic move for both parties.
Kenilworth Road itself could also be a defining factor. Opposition sides are going to find it very difficult to go to the small-confined stadium, with not much luxury in terms of facilities when it comes to the dressing rooms and the rowdy fans will be right on top of them from the first whistle. The more points they can pick up there the better, as it’s away from home they could be found out.
Then there are the sides around them. Fellow promoted side Sheffield United will surely struggle, while Nottingham Forest, Wolves, Everton and Bournemouth could also be involved in the relegation scrap. If Luton can pick up crucial points against their survival rivals, it will be a big boost to their chances.
Their chances of staying up do still remain slim, but Edwards has potentially built a squad with their summer recruits good enough to come straight back up again. Luton Town could be the new yo-yo club.