Ahh, finally the elusive Premier League matchday is back. The inaugural fixtures gift us an enticing clash: Brighton & Hove Albion, led by the revolutionary coach Roberto De Zerbi, squaring off against the quintessential feel-good story of the Premier League, Luton Town.
All eyes are on De Zerbi’s squad as they strive to replicate their impressive late-season performance. On the opposing side, Luton Town, embodying the traditional English football club ethos, battled their way up from the Championship in true old-school fashion. They went toe-to-toe against formidable opponents like Watford, Sheffield, and Sunderland, culminating in a final-day showdown. Their journey continued as they triumphed over Coventry in a penalty shootout during the Playoff finals. Ah, the timeless allure of English football unfolds once again, where fairytales are woven in golden threads.
The game would take place at Amex stadium, 14:00 GMT with David Coote as match referee assisted by Mark Scholes and Timothy Wood with Robert Jones in the VAR hotseat.
The notable absentees from Seagulls squad would be Moises Caicedo who has been stuck as the victory prize in a Mexican standoff between Liverpool and Chelsea with Sheriff Brighton officiating. Totally understandable how that would play with anyone’s head and make them mentally unfit to join the Sheriff’s posse.
On the other hand, Luton has encountered a string of unfortunate injuries. Jordan Clark, their preferred winger, is currently sidelined due to an ankle injury. Similarly, their left-back Dan Potts has suffered a similar fate with an ankle injury of his own. Both players sustained these injuries during pre-season friendlies against Bochum last weekend, and according to Hatters’ manager Rob Edwards, they are expected to be unavailable “for the next few weeks.”
Adding to their woes, Luton is also dealing with defensive injuries to Gabriel Osho and Reece Burke.
The matchup between Luton and Brighton is perhaps the most interesting when it comes to tactical approaches this weekend. Luton has boldly adopted a strategy of deploying two forward players, complemented by a rapid and direct counter-attacking style. In contrast, Robert De Zerbi’s approach for Brighton revolves around a fluid possession-based game. The divergence in these tactical approaches promises an engaging spectacle.
Luton pre-dominantly used the 3-5-2 or 3-1-4-2 formation in the previous season with devastating effect. Their tactical approach involved wingbacks bombing up high. We can expect a similar approach here with the signing of Issa Kabore as RWB who with his exceptional athleticism will partner the ever-reliable Alfie Doughty at the LWB position.
Their goals last season stemmed from either a long ball from RCB or LCB to Carlton Morris upfront who would use his physical prowess and close ball control to run towards channels meanwhile the nearest advanced midfielder and wingback would make intelligent runs into pockets of spaces and thereafter it would be crosses into the box approach. Their reliance on wingbacks and crosses in attack is clearly visible from 161 crosses, the most in the Championship.
Brighton emerged as a shining example of possession-based football last season. Their approach was reliant on inviting the opposition press in their half and then playing out from the back towards the wingers using athletic midfielders in Caicedo and Mac Allister or a dropping back #10 in the form of Lallana who would pass on the ball to Mitoma and March who were excellent in 1v1 situations against opposition full-backs and this all would be accompanied by a vertical run by full-backs and forwards into the box for eventual ball from wingers.
Against Luton, it seems fairly certain Brighton would use a similar approach as Luton are a high-pressing team which is perfectly aligned with what Brighton wants. It is left to see how Billy Gilmour, Mahmoud Daoud and Pascal Gross fill the Mac Allister and Caicedo hole. Upfront we would see exciting João Pedro who impressed in the pre-season with his performance against Chelsea and other clubs occupying the # 10 role with Welbeck up top as the main striker.
The key players for Luton would be Carlton Morris up top who has been their primary goal threat. The loan signing of Issa Kabore from Man City would be another interesting prospect to watch out for in the match against Seagulls.
Meanwhile, Brighton would bank on the bright form that Joao Pedro displayed in the pre-season to continue along with the usual tricky wingers of Mitoma and Solly March. It would also be interesting to see how Mahmoud Daoud fares in the demanding midfield role for Brighton.
Brighton predicted lineup vs Luton Town: Jason Steele, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Pervis Estupinan, Pascal Groß, Dahoud, Gilmour, Pedro, Mitoma, March, Welbeck.
Luton predicted lineup vs Brighton: Thomas Kaminski, Issa Kabore, Tom Lockyer, Mads Andersen, Amarii Bell, Alfie Doughty,Tahit Chong, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Marvelous Nakamba, Elijah Adebayo, Carlton Morris.