Henri Lansbury - Tenacity, Leadership and Quality
This article featured in the official Luton Town matchday programme for the game against Cardiff City (27/11/21), in the 'Dylan's Diary' column.
It’s fair to say that midfield maestro Henri Lansbury has adjusted to life at Kenilworth with ease since signing for Luton in the summer.
The former Arsenal youngster, who’s first experience of the Hatters came during the 2009 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final whilst on-loan at Scunthorpe United, has graced the Town faithful with some eye-catching performances and has proved to be a crucial cog in Nathan Jones’ well-oiled machine.
What makes the recruitment of Lansbury over the summer interesting is how it marked a deviation from the types of targets identified by the Town who could drive the club forwards in the long run – the likes of Admiral Muskwe, Allan Campbell and Fred Onyedinma, brought in as young, athletic players who fit the aim of adding ‘pace and power’ to the squad.
Lansbury doesn’t necessarily fit that bill. So why was he brought in?
“With all the youth and energy and all the qualities that we are bringing in, we felt we needed…that real know how at the level."
That's how Nathan Jones explained the signing of Lansbury, suggesting that he was brought in as someone who could provide the kind of leadership by example to support the addition several younger, less experienced, players.
But right from his first start of the season against Barnsley where his quick-thinking from a free-kick deep in his own half created what would prove to be Luton’s winning goal, it’s Lansbury’s quality and tenacious nature that has earnt the praise of the Hatters faithful.
When he picks the ball up it’s obvious that he sees pictures that nobody else does, be it a dangerous through pass, a flat switch of play into a wing-back or an ability to dictate and control possession from deep. He ranks as Luton’s best progressive passer, meaning that he’s frequently able to play into teammates higher up the pitch, crucial in the Hatter’s ability to break the opposition’s lines and get into goal scoring positions.
Combined with a tenacity and aggression that makes him the kind of leader by example that Nathan Jones was looking for, Lansbury makes Luton tick. He’s the fulcrum for the pace, power and athleticism of the rest of the team, linking them together and providing the quality in possession that they need to thrive – the recent defeat to Stoke City showed just how crucial he is to the Hatters.
The signing of Lansbury shows the importance of balance in squad building. Sticking to the overarching philosophy and direction that you want to go in is important, but slight deviations are necessary to ensure that those different pieces can be glued together. Lansbury is that glue, and he’s already looking like one of Luton’s smartest signings yet.