Talking Tactics

How Luton's direct approach can trouble Chelsea

22 Aug 2023

Adrian Clarke explains why Carlton Morris and his team-mates can hurt Blues on Friday

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 3.

Chelsea v Luton Town

Luton will feel they have a style of play that can cause Chelsea problems at Stamford Bridge on Friday.

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Set-pieces and counter-attacks are among their key strengths, so manager Rob Edwards will have been encouraged by the way West Ham United scored their goals against the Blues last weekend.

West Ham had just 24.3 per cent of possession but hurt Mauricio Pochettino’s side with goals from a corner, a quick transition and a penalty in the 3-1 win.

With Luton likely to have a similar share of the ball against Chelsea, they must try to match the Hammers’ efficiency inside the final third.

Morris an aerial threat

Striker Carlton Morris impressed in the 4-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on the opening weekend.

His physicality is an integral part of the way Edwards’ side play, with the goalkeeper and central defenders clipping a lot of long passes up to his head or chest from deep.

He is outstanding at winning those duels, linking play nicely and helping Luton gain territory.

Morris won 10 of 14 aerial duels against Brighton, meaning his average in this department is currently way more than any other Premier League player.

Premier League forwards' aerial duels 23/24*
Player Mins Aerial duels Aerial duels won Won/90
Carlton Morris 90 14 10 10.0
Taiwo Awoniyi 103 12 4 3.5
Jarrod Bowen 180 13 6 3.0
Michail Antonio 154 11 5 2.9

*Top stats for forwards with at least 90 minutes played this season

If Chelsea do not compete well enough against Morris in the air, he can be an influential figure.

When the Blues cannot win the initial header, they must ensure they pick up the second ball.

Pochettino will be aware that 25.6 per cent of Luton’s passes against Brighton were classified as long, with Morris a regular target, so he should put a plan in place.

Wide play

Chelsea are expected to monopolise possession and play most of this match inside the visitors' half.

However, when the promoted side break on them at pace, they must quickly adjust to protect the wide areas, especially if full-backs Ben Chilwell and Malo Gusto are stranded further up the pitch.

Many of Luton’s brightest moments at Brighton stemmed from swift turnovers where wing-backs Issa Kabore and Ryan Giles scampered forward at speed.

Manchester City loanee Kabore caught the eye with some menacing raids down the right. And left-sided Giles, who provided 20 Championship assists while on loan at Cardiff City and Middlesbrough across the last two seasons, will definitely need to be closed down.

Giles picked out the dangerous Morris with seven successful passes in Matchweek 1, including three inside the box.

Giles to Morris passes graphic

Giles also made seven open-play crosses, which puts him joint-top of the league’s rankings for his total per 90 minutes.

Most open-play crosses 23/24*
Player Appearances Mins Open play crosses Per 90
Lucas Digne 2 180 14 7.0
Ryan Giles 1 90 7 7.0
Raheem Sterling 2 171 11 5.8
Pedro Neto 2 180 11 5.5

*Top stats for players with at least 90 minutes played 

Set-piece danger

Chelsea conceded a soft opening goal at West Ham when Nayef Aguerd rose above Conor Gallagher from a simple James Ward-Prowse outswinging corner.

That will give Luton heart that they can follow suit.

Giles is a superb technician from corners and wide free-kicks, so Chelsea would be advised to limit the number of set-plays they give away.

Morris had a close-range header well saved by Brighton's Jason Steele from one of Giles’ accurate deliveries.

The 27-year-old is not the only danger man Luton have at dead-ball situations either.

Captain Tom Lockyer and Elijah Adebayo are two other players Chelsea need to mark closely.

Luton know they are overwhelming underdogs against their illustrious hosts, but their direct tactical approach has the potential to unsettle them.

They will try to take advantage of facing a new-look Chelsea, preying on any hesitation or communication issues.

Also in this series

Part 1: Will Klopp tweak his midfield ahead of stern Newcastle test?
Part 3: How Gross is stepping up to be Brighton's main midfield man
Part 4: Hamer is exactly who Sheff Utd need to disrupt Man City

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