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4 observations as Luton Town secure 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic

Luton Town made the journey up to the DW stadium for the second time this week, and walked away with a 2-0 win and 3 points in the bag, leaving the Town in 7th place and 2 points off them down the road in 3rd place, with a game in hand. Interestingly with the two wins at the DW, Luton Town have now won as many games at Wigans’ home ground, as Wigan have managed all season (2 wins). The only difference is Luton Town have done it in 5 days, whereas it has taken Wigan 15 attempts and spanned 6 months. Overall it was a game where Wigan tried something a bit different, dominating possession with 62% of the ball. However, this possession was in areas that wouldn’t trouble the hatters, and mostly after we had a 2 goal cushion and let them come at us. Wigan attempted 10 shots, only 1 hitting the target, a tame effort from Ashley Fletcher. After all it doesn’t matter what you do with the ball providing you hold onto it, create chances and score goals, which is exactly what Wigan were unable to do. Luton Town were wild animals out of possession and our first goal came from pressuring Wigan while they were casual knocking around at the back, before Cornick dispossessed Caulker, and hammered a shot in. Our second was a different beast, direct, but not like we used to play under Nathan Jones, the ball stayed on the floor during a beautiful 4 pass move that carved Wigan open and saw Elijah Adebayo wheeling away with 3 goals in 3 and 6 goals in all competitions for the season. These are four observations from our 2-0 victory over Wigan.

Keeping it on the deck

As shown by our second goal, the biggest change under Rob Edwards is the mandate to not aimlessly play a direct channel ball and have our forwards scamper after it, or try and control it. What was noticed yesterday was we will always endeavour to play a sensible ball out of defence on the ground, unless the pressure is too much, in which case it will get cleared. During the game only 23% of our 337 passes were long balls, which is very different from how we remember playing the Championship under Nathan Jones, sure it was effective, but it contributed to our rock bottom possession stats last season in the Championship. The clear change in keeping the ball on the floor and switching to a quick one-two touch slick passing style is very easy on the eye, and has indeed freshened up watching Luton under Rob Edwards.

Osho ignoring the stats

After appearing in a Whoscored lineup of the statistically worst players for the first half of the Championship season, Osho has silenced the critics and gone about his business with three solid back to back to back performances against Wigan. Yesterday he completed 81% of his passes and these weren’t just simple passes. The pass he played to Adebayo was instrumental in the second goal, a straight ball cutting through the Wigan midfield like butter. In addition to his passing he won 75% of his ground duels, made 4 recoveries and 5 clearances. Under Rob Edwards (formerly a centre back) he’s getting good guidance, and he has very much impressed in the right centre back role as a back up to Reece Burke. He’s still young and there is a long way to go. I hope we hold onto him to continue developing him.

I’m Harry Cornick, How may I assist you?

After a tricky opening of the season for Harry, where he hadn’t found the back of the net, after two matches against Wigan he now has 2 goals in 2 games, and scoring goal is the perfect tonic for a striker low on confidence, just look at Elijah Adebayo. Against Wigan in the league, Harry had a great game, running his socks off and finishing with a goal and an assist. This latest assist leaves Harry Cornick with 3 in the league this season, which considering his limited gametime which has seen him play 738 minutes, is a great platform for Harry to kick on in the second half of the season with games coming thick and fast, we will need all our strikers ready to go at a moments notice.

James Bree. Delivery.

If James Bree were to leave for Southampton we will have some job replacing his balls into the box from set pieces. As highlighted by Andy Burgess in his Put It In The Mixer podcast, James Bree manages to put in as good a ball as you’ll see at this level. Each free kick that James Bree delivered against Wigan was inch perfect, with swerve that tantalised the keeper before curling back into the path of the waiting mob in the penalty box. Bree has such a cultured right foot, it will take some effort from our recruitment department to replace him, because Bree has come a long way since Graeme Jones was shoehorning him in at left back.

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Jan 22, 2023

Hey Billy, Once again I find myself in agreement with your analysis, and enjoying your writing style - The intriguing thing I have noticed - very often Luton have struggled against the weaker teams (pace WIGAN at home back in September) and played our best football against the tougher opposition... we seem to have trouble doing both at the Kenny, and maybe Edwards has the key to making the place back into a fortress longer term. but on that weaker team issue - this time away - we went one better than the FA Cup - and that bodes well for the rest of the season... We have a good subs bench and youth players eager and talented - I would add to…

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