Luton Town begin their first ever Premier League season this weekend as they travel to the Amex stadium where they will attempt to defeat the high-flying Seagulls. Brighton & Hove Albion are heavy favourites going into the tie and Roberto De Zerbi (RDZ) will demand nothing less than three points and a dominant performance. The most recent competitive meeting between the two sides dates way back to 2009 in the EFL Trophy semifinals, where the Hatters progressed on penalties after two draws.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton are such an exciting side to watch and unless you are a Crystal Palace fan, it is almost impossible to not enjoy the football they produce. Since taking over the manager role from Graham Potter in October, RDZ has elevated the Seagulls performances to another level. Their fearless approach earned them a European spot for the first time in the clubs history, as they finished in 6th place, a major achievement for the club and even the city.
When watching the Seagulls, it is clear that attacking is their main priority and the numbers serve as evidence to further back this point. They scored the fourth highest amount of goals last season with an average of 1.89 goals per game. Furthermore, Brighton’s ability to score remained consistent both away from home and when hosting, scoring 35 and 37 respectively. However, they were much more secure defensively at the Amex, which will give the team confidence going into Saturday’s opener. RDZ has also reinforced his squad with astute signings despite Levi Colwill returning to parent club Chelsea and Alexis Mac Allister moving to Liverpool.
Brighton will dominate the possession and the majority of attacking statistics versus Luton, but it is vital that they turn their opportunities into goals. New £29.5 million signing, Joao Pedro, will certainly help with this, whilst also providing an alternative dimension to the attack in terms of physicality, pace, and power. The Brazilian is also versatile which enables the forwards to be interchangeable, which may be key to unlocking Luton’s inevitable low block set-up.
After a successful yet intense ending to the 2022/23 Championship season, the Hatters opening game which starts their life in the Premier League couldn’t be much more difficult. Rob Edward’s goal for the season will be to remain in the English top flight and in order to achieve that, Luton’s defensive resilience must reach high standards. After facing Brighton, their season will be disrupted with a postponed game versus Burnley due to uncertainty that work at Kenilworth Road would be completed in time. This could be negative or positive depending on the result at the Amex, as it could either stop momentum or give Edward’s more time with his squad.
Luton had the second best away record in the Championship last season, which was mainly due to their impressive defensive record of only conceding 18 goals in 23 matches. The Hatters also won 11 of those away games, highlighting their ability to grind out results which will be vital throughout the Premier League campaign. However, what will concern the Luton faithful is that they haven’t acquired a first choice goalkeeper yet after Ethan Hovarth’s loan deal ended.
On Saturday, Luton will be prepared to endure long spells without possession which only underlines the importance of being effective and efficient when they do have the ball. A high press on Brighton’s backline and keeper is impossible, which means Luton have to bring physicality and intensity to central areas. However in possession, they will adopt an approach of firing long balls into the channels for last season’s top scorer Carlton Morris and his striker partner Elijah Adebayo, who will both have a major role to play at the weekend by giving the team a continuous out-ball.
Brighton are a side that has an abundance of quality and with their never-ending amount of depth, I expected them to be relentless from the first minute to the last. Luton will attempt to harness the Seagulls creativity but it is unclear how much attacking threat they will oppose themselves. Brighton will win this game and if they score early, Luton will have no choice but to commit players forward which only plays into the hands of RDZ.
The final prediction is Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Luton Town.