First league game of the year is a big one for the Clarets
Our last league game was the 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa on 30th December last year and now our league campaign continues into 2024 with the visit of Luton Town.
No matter what happens tonight, we will not move in the table but a win would take us within a point of Luton while a defeat would take them seven points clear of us and above Everton, dropping them into the bottom three.
There is no such thing as a must win game in January, surely, but this game is undoubtedly a really important one for us. Just three wins in our first twenty games has left us with a mountain to climb in the second half of the season when, let’s face it, the home form just has to improve. To date, it’s nine defeats on the Turf, just one away from equalling the most home defeats in a Premier League season, with only that 5-0 win against Sheffield United breaking this dreadful run.
We’ve scored just ten goals in those ten home games, with half of them coming in that win, and we’ve conceded 24 and that’s something that must be addressed in the remaining nine home games.
Those nine games kick off with Luton, a team promoted with us last season having finished in third place, 21 points behind us. Although we’ve won on each of our last four visits to Kenilworth Road, their record in the games at Turf Moor is better. They are unbeaten on their last seven visits with three draws and four wins. The last time they were beaten at Burnley was back in March 1995 when goals from John Mullin and Gerry Harrison brought us from a goal down to win 2-1.
“We have taken a massive step towards being collective as a team, now we just need that small percentage so we score in the chances that we get, we keep defending how we do. It’s not easy but we’ve done that for a couple of games now and that’s very, very positive. The offensive things will come, it’s a matter of repetitions and believing in everything that we do and grab the moment when it’s there. We’ve done it before. We’ve shown it against good teams as well.”
Manager Vincent Kompany wasn’t giving much away in terms of injuries this week but it’s likely we will be without some of our squad with Charlie Taylor potentially joining Jordan Beyer on the list of injured defenders while Lyle Foster is apparently being assessed for the forward position. The one piece of good news is Sander Berge’s availability following his suspension that kept him out of the cup tie at Spurs.
Our team last time out in the league at Villa two weeks ago was: James Trafford, Vitinho, Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Josh Brownhill, Sander Berge, Wilson Odobert, Zeki Amdouni, Lyle Foster. Subs: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Hannes Delcroix, Aaron Ramsey, Nathan Redmond, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Mikle Trésor, Jay Rodriguez, Michael Obafemi.
Luton had a difficult start to the season, losing their first five games, but picked up their first victory, a fortunate 2-1 win at Everton just before we met at Kenilworth Road. They’ve won three times since, beating both Crystal Palace and Newcastle at Kenilworth Road and winning 3-2 at Sheffield United, where they came from 2-1 behind to win with two own goals. Since picking up their first win they’ve flitted in and out of the bottom three and have been either 17th or 18th occasionally going ahead of Everton.
Their manager Rob Edwards, who replaced Nathan Jones during last season, said ahead of the game: “They will be confident now they’re playing at home but we showed in the second half of the first game we could hurt them which was encouraging.
“We’re a bit more streetwise since and form’s important, and we’re in good form. The big thing now for us that we know we can compete at this level; we’re difficult to beat and getting points off. We see every game as an opportunity for three points and if we can get that, and just out (of the bottom three) for a few hours at least, then great, but there’s a long way to go in this season.
“We’ll concentrate on this game, it’s a good challenge, a difficult game. Burnley have hurt bigger and better teams than us this year.”
Luton’s most recent game in the league was a 3-2 defeat against Chelsea at home. The Luton team was: Thomas Kaminski, Teden Mengi, Gabriel Osho, Amari’i Bell, Issa Kaboré, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ross Barkley, Alfie Doughty, Andros Townsend, Jacob Brown, Elijah Adebayo. Subs: Tim Krul, Mads Andersen, Chiedozie Ogbene, Carlton Morris, Cauley Woodrow, Tahith Chong, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark, Ryan Giles.
Two of that team might have been Burnley players ahead of this season. Albert Sambi Lokonga was heavily linked with a loan move from Arsenal and he recently confirmed he had the option of joining Burnley. Andros Townsend was initially offered a contract with us but when that was withdrawn he eventually joined Luton on a short term contract which has recently been extended.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Luton’s last top flight game at Burnley came in January 1975, 49 years ago next Thursday, when a Billy Ingham goal gave us a 1-0 win to complete the double over them.
They’ve made twelve visits for league games since, losing only three of them. The most recent of those games was our first home game of last season which ended in a 1-1 draw.
On a day when we had eight players going on to make home debuts, it was Luton who struck first with just five minutes gone with us making a shocking start. We failed to deal with a long throw and only half cleared it. The ball was returned to our box on the left with Amari’i Bell chipping it to the far post. They won a header, there was a scramble and the ball ran loose for Dan Potts to smash home.
The game changed and in the opening minutes we won three corners. From that third corner, taken short, Ian Maatsen and Benson linked up with Benson getting the ball into the box. Luton made a mess of trying to clear their lines and Ashley Barnes picked up the ball. He knocked it back for Josh Brownhill whose sweet shot from just outside the box gave the Luton goalkeeper no chance.
Maybe we should have gone on and won the game, but we never looked likely to concede again and it all ended at 1-1.
The teams were;
Burnley: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Charlie Taylor, Ian Maatsen, Jack Cork, Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill, Samuel Bastien (Manuel Benson ht), Dara Costelloe (Vitinho 82), Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, CJ Egan-Riley, Luke McNally, Owen Dodgson, Adam Phillips.
Luton: Ethan Horvath, Gabriel Osho (Henri Lansbury 84), Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, James Bree, Jordan Clark, Harry Campbell (Reece Burke 67), Luke Freeman (Cauley Woodrow 67), Amari’I Bell, Elijah Adebayo, Harry Cornick (Carlton Morris 59). Subs not used: Matt Macey, Tom Lockyer, Luke Berry.Follow UpTheClarets:
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