So once more, I’ve drawn the lucky straw and got the preview for the same team I did earlier in the season. If you want to know how that went, I’m sure Mr Gowers will be kind enough to insert a link here.
Having read it back, I wasn’t far off. Luton, coming off a thumping at Cardiff turned over a very tired and depleted Norwich side at Kenilworth Road.
As I predicted, Nathan Jones shuffled his pack and put out a side that tactically outthought and physically outfought us on the night.
Luton recruited some impressive additional players in January with Wigan all-rounder Kal Naismith, much-travelled winger Tom Ince, and Walsall striker Elijah Adebayo all bolstering Jones’s options.
Far from struggling, as many predicted, Luton have chugged along comfortably winning 12, drawing 8 and losing 13, and currently sit in 13th place in the table.
They’re coming off two wins on the spin having beaten Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 at home last Saturday and then snatched a 1-0 win at Forest on Tuesday night, so confidence will be high.
Tactically, Jones continues to shuffle his pack according to the opposition, with the 4-1-2-1-2 employed at Forest having been preceded by a 3-5-2 v Wednesday and in the draw against Millwall before that, and before that they played with a 4-3-3 and a 4-1-4-1.
Ultimately there is no way of second-guessing what line-up and formation Jones will go with, but after last time, it’s safe to assume he will have done his homework on us and be plotting accordingly.
Defensively they have been struggling with injuries and Naismith, who usually operates in the midfield areas, has had to put in a shift at centre-back to cover alongside Matt Pearson who has previously split time between centre-back and right-back.
Whether they are up to handling Teemu Pukki’s movement could have a major bearing on the game.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a back three put out against us for that very reason, although I don’t see that leading to an “everyone behind the ball/ park the bus” scenario. Luton have a bit more belief and intent to them than that, and in 6ft 4in Adebayo, a big physical presence to use as an outlet.
As much as I respect Jones and his ability to get the most out of his squad, I think we’re just in too good a mental place right now to do anything silly.
With a relaxed squad coming off yet another confidence-bolstering win, I’m fairly sure we’ll make our ability count in a way we didn’t at Kenilworth Road.
If we score early it might even be a battering. Luton’s gameplan will be to keep it at 0-0 for as long as possible and anything else will be a bonus.