All you need to know: Chelsea vs Luton Town

From the official Chelsea FC website:

The weekend action begins early at Stamford Bridge as one of the Premier League’s ever-presents take on the division’s newest entrant. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton prepare for a Friday night under the lights in SW6…

Chelsea contested Sky Sports’ inaugural Friday Night Football on 11 December 1992 at Ayresome Park, and will now host its most recent edition. It is the first ever Premier League meeting between the Blues and Luton Town, though the two recently met in successive FA Cup campaigns in 2021 (a 3-1 win at the Bridge) and 2022 (3-2 at Kenilworth Road).

The Hatters might have anticipated their maiden Premier League visit to Stamford Bridge would take place three decades earlier, but they were relegated from the old Division One in May 1992. Pointedly, Middlesbrough, our Friday night hosts back in 1992, were among the clubs who had replaced them.

This is the first of a series of three matches back-to-back at the Bridge, with Wimbledon the Carabao Cup visitors on Wednesday, and Nottingham Forest in the league next Saturday. That winnable treble hands the crowd a chance to play a huge part in kickstarting the season after last weekend’s setback at West Ham.

The Blues have not scooped all three points on home soil since a 1-0 win against Leeds in March and are in a run of three straight draws, including the season-opener against Liverpool.

That same opening weekend, Luton lost 4-1 at Brighton. As they also failed to win on the road throughout their final Division One season in 1991/92, the Bedfordshire side are currently winless in 27 away matches at this level.

Team news

Mauricio Pochettino is happy with much of what he’s witnessed from his team so far and the evidence is there for all to see. Despite the eventual outcome there was plenty to savour from a dominant first-half performance in east London, and who knows how the game might have unfolded had Enzo’s penalty found its target. (That was our first miss from the spot since Jorginho at home to the same opponents in April 2022.)

As against Liverpool, the team showed organisation, invention, and incisiveness, creating 11 shots inside the Hammers’ box. Raheem Sterling arguably had his best day for Chelsea with six successful take-ons.

So far, the metrics gathered for attacking aspects of the game this season – expected goals, touches in the opposition box, successful pressing and passing, moves ending in penalty area action – are more promising than 2022/23. It seems embers are burning, the team just needs to catch fire.

However, we has been less brisk at putting the coach’s plans into action at the start of each half. Chelsea have now fallen 1-0 behind in six consecutive Premier League games. That has never happened seven times in succession in the club’s history.

Yet another player lost to the operating table was not on anyone’s wish list, but the consolation of Carney Chukwuemeka’s knee damage was that the attacking midfielder’s majestic goal, his first in the famous royal blue, had just shown the potential he can regain when fit again.

Meanwhile, should Moises Caicedo need inspiration after conceding a penalty in his bow for the Blues he need look no further than difficult league debuts for Marcel Desailly at Coventry in 1998, Wayne Bridge against Liverpool in 2003, or Thiago Silva, whose error at the Hawthorns in 2020 also led to an early setback. All went on to have trophy-laden Chelsea careers.

Scouting the opposition – Luton Town

Luton were promoted to the Premier League thanks to victory over Coventry in the play-off final. After their scheduled match at Kenilworth Road last weekend was postponed because of stadium issues, they will become the second promoted club to play both their first two Premier League games away from home. (The only others were Blackpool, relegated in 2010/11).

The Hatters were beaten 4-1 on the opening weekend at Brighton, with errors leading to two late goals for the hosts as tiredness took its toll. A defence-minded Town conceded 12 shots on target against the Seagulls, who also hit the goalframe three times.

Rob Edwards set up with a back three plus wing-backs, who were put under extended pressure from the hosts’ wide players. Brighton dominated possession and won the midfield battle, regularly winning the ball from the visitors, though the Hatters managed to counter attack with some success.

The head coach, who said he would like to take advantage of a Chelsea side ‘not at their best’, is likely to be without Reece Burke, Jordan Clark, Gabe Osho and Dan Potts on Friday.

With a little over a week before the transfer cut-off, though, one-time Blue Ross Barkley, now 29, has been signed on a free transfer after his release by Nice, and 35-year-old goalkeeper Tim Krul has joined from Norwich.

Chelsea vs Luton – the history

Luton will be the 50th different club Chelsea have faced over the course of the Premier League. We have beaten each of the previous 49 except Oldham Athletic. The Blues are unbeaten at the Bridge in six meetings with Town, stretching back to a Mike Newell brace in a 3-1 September 1986 defeat.

The Londoners’ biggest league victory at home to the Hatters was 4-1 in 1956, with homegrown teenager Tony Nicholas contributing a brace. That scoreline was matched the last time this league fixture was played, almost exactly 32 years ago on 31 August 1991. Graeme Le Saux, Andy Townsend, Kerry Dixon and Dennis Wise scored Chelsea’s goals.

Although there were FA Cup clashes in 1927 and 1936, this was first played as a league match on Easter Monday 1956, and neither side troubled the scoreboard. Chelsea were defending champions of Division One whereas Luton, as now, were top-tier novices. Three days earlier, on Good Friday, the pair had drawn 2-2 at Kenilworth Road.

The first of the Hatters’ four wins in 19 league visits would come in November 1957, but 20 years later an early goal for Steve Finnieston and a 25-yard drive from 18-year-old left-back John Sparrow earned an important Division Two victory for the Blues.

The media dubbed that sensational strike ‘Sparrow’s arrow’ and the result – another Easter present – restored faith in promotion for manager Eddie McCreadie’s young side. Correctly so, as it turned out a few weeks later. But when Chelsea and the former full-back failed to agree contract terms in summer 1977, the departed Scot came close to replacing Harry Haslam at Luton.

TGI Friday

On 3 February this year the Blues finished the working week at the Bridge with a 0-0 draw against Fulham, making it three wins, four draws and two defeats from all our Friday Premier League matches.

In 2016/17 we played two fixtures on this day: a 2-1 home defeat by Liverpool and, of course, West Bromwich away on 12 May, where Michy Batshuayi clinched the victory that secured our sixth league title success.

In times past, a match-packed Easter weekend could make or break a club’s campaign and Good Friday loomed large in the football calendar. None more so than the promotion showdown with Manchester United during our first season on 13 April 1906, where a record crowd for the Metropolis – 67,000 – witnessed a 1-1 draw that dented the Pensioners’ chances.

Another promotion tussle with Mancunians, this time City at Maine Road on Friday 4 May 1984, was televised live. The Blues were already going up, and goals from Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin ended City’s chances.

In 1992, goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock helped secure a 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough on 11 December. It was meagre fare for the Premier League’s first live broadcast match on a Friday, but the result temporarily lifted the Blues to second in the Premier League table.

Chelsea’s proud record against promoted clubs

Between 2001 and 2020, 57 promoted teams played at Stamford Bridge and only one – Bournemouth in 2015/16 – left with all three points.

Since then, Chelsea have been humbled on two further occasions – the 4-1 beating by Brentford on 2 April 2021, and the 5-2 against West Bromwich a year and a day later, both on Thomas Tuchel’s watch.

In October 2021, though, the Londoners registered our biggest league win since December 2012 with the 7-0 thrashing of summer newcomers Norwich.

Chelsea vs promoted clubs at the Bridge

66 played
51 won
12 drawn
3 lost
165/198 points taken

One Blues player who especially relishes playing teams new to the top tier is Raheem Sterling. The England winger scored three and made two against such opponents last season.

Mauricio Pochettino has won 34 of his 40 previous encounters with Premier League arrivals (losing two).





‘Chelsea Supporters Group’ can also be found on Twitter and Facebook

Related Images: