We continue our series on the newly-promoted Premier League sides with this look at Luton Town’s attacking options for 2023/24.
The stats in this piece are taken from WhoScored, Fotmob and FBref.
WHAT IS LUTON’S GOAL-SCORING POTENTIAL IN FPL?
Luton’s fairytale story has been their meteoric rise through the divisions, being promoted four times in ten seasons, but their start to this particular campaign was slow. Just two wins arrived in their first nine matches, losing to Wigan Athletic, Bristol City and Preston North End along the way.
What pushed the Hatters up the league into a third-place finish was defence rather than attack. Their 57 goals were the lowest within the top six, Edwards’ side drawing a blank in 10 of their matches.
Not since Huddersfield Town went up in 2016/17 has a side scored fewer goals and ascended to the Premier League. Indeed, of the 42 teams to get promoted to the top flight over the last 13 seasons, Luton are ranked 41st for goals scored.
Interestingly, considering most post-promotion focus has been on their small, unfashionable stadium, Luton gained more points (albeit while scoring five fewer goals) away from Kenilworth Road.
|2022/23 total (rank v other Championship clubs)|
|Goals scored||57 (8th=)|
|Shots in the box||383 (8th=)|
|Shots on target||174 (11th)|
|Attempts from set plays||168 (5th)|
|Attempts from counter-attacks||11 (21st=)|
|Expected goals (xG)||58.2 (8th)|
Looking deeper into their underlying attacking stats, we can see that the tally of 57 goals was about right – close to the 58.2 expected goals (xG). They’re eighth for shots inside the box but rank even lower for total attempts and shots on target.
The article on Edwards discusses a playing style which tends to be direct and powerful using high pressing and long passing. It’s about getting the ball in shooting positions as soon as possible, so it’s no surprise to see them low on shots from counter-attacks (joint-21st) and amongst the best for set-piece threat (5th).
All in all, it doesn’t bode well for goals in the top flight.
2022/23: APPS, GOALS AND ASSISTS
|Player||Position||Starts (Sub apps)||Mins||Goals||Assists|
|Carlton Morris||FWD||44 (3)||3693||20||7|
|Elijah Adebayo||FWD||42 (3)||3523||8||5|
|Jordan Clark||MID||37 (4)||3390||3||4|
|Allan Campbell||MID||38 (5)||3273||3||2|
|Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu||MID||27 (6)||2394||3||1|
|Luke Berry||MID||4 (19)||695||3||0|
|Cauley Woodrow||FWD||5 (22)||741||2||1|
|Luke Freeman||MID||10 (16)||988||2||1|
|Harry Cornick*||MID||7 (12)||740||1||3|
|Cameron Jerome*||FWD||0 (21)||333||1||1|
|Henri Lansbury*||MID||6 (4)||458||1||0|
|Marvelous Nakamba**||MID||19 (1)||1726||0||0|
*has now left the club
The only player to reach double figures over these 49 matches is Carlton Morris, with no midfielder exceeding three goals.
Indeed, centre-back Tom Lockyer, profiled in our defenders article, scored on more occasions than any of his team-mates in the engine room.
Incredibly, Luton have reached the Premier League despite only twice spending over £1m on a player. Morris is one of these, arriving from Barnsley last summer for a club-record fee of almost £2m.
The acquisition of the 27-year-old has been a masterstroke, with Morris ending as the Championship’s third-top scorer behind Chuba Akpom and Viktor Gyokeres.
His 20 goals are considerably more than his xG of 15.00, suggesting he’s capable of making the most of limited opportunities – and they surely will be limited when he makes the step up in class.
Of the regular starters in the Luton squad, Morris had the best rate of shots and efforts in the penalty box:
|Player||Apps||Mins||Mins per shot||Mins per shot in six-yard box||Mins per shot in penalty area (excl. six-yard box)|
His rate of chances created (one every 69 minutes) was also better than any of the midfielders that finished the campaign as first choices in Edwards’ engine room, namely Jordan Clark, Marvelous Nakamba and Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu.
Morris could also be on spot-kicks: he took the latest in-match penalty and scored it, having seen Cauley Woodrow and Elijah Adebayo miss the previous two efforts from 12 yards.
As the highest scorer from all three promoted sides, expect an FPL starting price of around £6.0m.
A word of warning, though: he does like a yellow card, having been booked on 11 occasions in the campaign just gone.
Adebayo is, like his strike partner Morris, without Premier League experience, having been loaned out to several League Two teams whilst at Fulham.
Unlike Morris, his season’s xG has gone in the opposite direction: seven pre-playoff goals but with 12.90 expected.
This -5.90 underachievement was a league-high and partly explains why he’s so far down from his 16 goals of 2021/22.
Then, the 6ft 4in Adebayo combined well with Harry Cornick in a higher-scoring team but he is equally effective now alongside Morris, as his aerial threat is a huge asset.
He and Morris were ranked third and second for headed efforts in the Championship last season, as well as joint-first for shots in the six-yard box.
FPL will likely price him cheaper than Morris, perhaps at £5.5m.
Of the current crop, and before Luton dip into the transfer market, there really isn’t much appealing from the Hatters’ midfield from an FPL perspective.
With a lot of the creativity coming from the wing-backs and much of the goal threat provided by the front two, no Luton midfielder delivered more than seven attacking returns in 2022/23.
Jordan Clark, the scorer of their play-off goal at Wembley and semi-frequent set-piece taker, is probably the pick of the bunch. His 63 shots rank some distance behind Morris and Adebayo but way ahead of all others, while he also came third for xG (5.30) and key passes (48).
Those are middling figures in a wider context, though: wing-back Doughty created more chances in much less game-time, while almost half of Clark’s 63 efforts came from outside the area.
By the time of the play-offs, Clark had pushed Allan Campbell onto the bench and the Scottish international played just seven minutes of the three matches. A minutes-per-shot average of 105.6 suggests that even if Campbell did reclaim his place, he wouldn’t offer FPL managers much.
Elsewhere, the likes of Cauley Woodrow, Luke Freeman and Luke Berry are fringe players who can’t be considered good FPL options unless there is a Lundstram-style reboot in pre-season, whilst Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu hasn’t exceeded five goal involvements in any of his four Championship seasons and averaged less than one shot per game in the campaign just gone.
Marvelous Nakamba, an astute loan signing from Aston Villa, was deployed as the shielding number six and didn’t deliver a single attacking return.