Date: Friday 25th August 2023
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Well, the last time our no.25 debuted, it has to be said it went a bit better.
We asked for it really didn’t we? It’s fair to say with the battle against Liverpool and signing Caicedo on top of that, we maybe got a bit carried away with ourselves. Liverpool though, as it turned out, was a bit of a false dawn because our trip to the London Stadium went the same way they too often do.
You know when you stride into the kitchen with purpose, look around, and then completely forget what you’re doing there? That was us against West Ham, clueless and as for the subs, it was like sending your forgetful old gran into the kitchen with you. The penalty? Dear me, back to gran in her slippers again…
Anyway, tonight we play host to new boys, Luton Town. Our first meeting since we met in the top flight at Kenilworth Road in December 1991, when the Hatters won 2-0.
Chelsea could begin a Premier League campaign without winning any of their first three games for the first time since 1998-99 and with the level of injuries we’re carrying impacting on options available, I wouldn’t be writing Luton off tonight.
Going into today’s game, Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, says “I was telling the players today in the meeting. We need to match the same will as the players of Luton. If we match all this, then we presume that we have better quality for us to win. But if not the game can be crazy. Maybe we can win or we can lose. That is football. It happens more here in the Premier League.
There’s nothing to lose (for Luton). We need to be brave. (But) I don’t want to give the Luton coach all the strategies. It can only happen in football. You can see basketball, NFL, you see the quality of the players and you say (one team) it’s impossible, you cannot do it. In football you can shoot 30 times and not score, and they can shoot only once and score. In other sports, it’s impossible. Football is about belief, being together and (showing) fight, and then the quality that you have, if you match this, it’s about the players. If you don’t match this, the game is going to be over.”
Luton manager, Rob Edwards, meanwhile, says “There’ll be an expectancy which we can play on, that’s fine, I don’t mind that, being the underdog, we can play on that and we can use that. We know what we’re going into this year, we know externally and I get it by the way, that we’ll be written off by a lot of people and we’ll be second favourites in a lot of the games that we’re going into. That’s understandable, that’s nothing to be taken personally, we’ll get our heads around that. I’ve got to be honest, I think it helps us, I do. I’ve said this previously building into the Brighton game, it probably helped us last year as well. We have our own standards, our own beliefs, I know what these players are capable of. I’ve got total belief and faith in them that we can be competitive in every game. I’m not saying we’re going to go and win every game, I know that’s not going to be the case, but I think we can compete.
We’ll use everything we can get. There will be pressure on them at home, they’ll be huge favourites and probably rightly so, but that’s fine by us. The fans will be turning up expecting them to turn us over and maybe convincingly so, but there will be some realistic fans who know it could be a more difficult game than what a lot of people think. That’s down to us, I can’t control all that and what they’ve done in the past. I just know they’re a really talented group of players, they’ve got a brilliant manager, and it’s going to be a very, very difficult game for us.”
For Chelsea, Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku (knee) are long-term absentees, Benoit Badiashile, Marcus Bettinelli, Trevoh Challobah and Armando Broja also remain out with Reece James (hamstring), and our obligatory injuries were added to with Carney Chukwuemeka (knee) at the weekend. Mykhailo Mudryk also picked up a minor injury in training and Romeo Lavia is not yet match-fit.
For Luton, Dan Potts and Jordan Clark are long-term absentees and Gabe Osho has been ruled out. Reece Burke is fit again after injury.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Sanchez; Disasi, Silva, Colwill; Gusto, Fernandez, Caicedo, Chilwell; Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson
LUTON (Possible line-up): Kaminski; Andersen, Lockyer, Bell; Kabore, Mpanzu, Nakamba, Chong, Giles; Adebayo, Morris
- Chelsea have won the past three meetings with Luton in all competitions.
- Luton have won one of their last seven league away matches against Chelsea.
- Chelsea’s only win in their past 16 fixtures in all competitions was against Bournemouth in May.
- Luton are without a win in their past 27 top-flight away matches.
- Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 11 Premier League games.
- Chelsea are without a win in nine home games in all competitions.
- Luton have won only one of their previous 35 top-flight away fixtures against London opposition.
- Chelsea dropped points in four of their six Premier League fixtures versus promoted opposition last season.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-0 Luton