Here we go, Albion fans! It’s the first home game of the season; not only that, it’s the first game with The Hawthorns open to full capacity since the FA cup game against Newcastle United in March 2020. What a long 15 months it’s been.
In order to mark the occasion, we have compiled an essential game-day package all Albion supporters should read prior to kick-off on Saturday.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Luton Town, Saturday 14th August
Location: The Hawthorns, KO: 3pm
Luton TownEmbed from Getty Images
3-0 win at home against newly-promoted Peterborough United.
Style of play:
This is Luton Town’s third consecutive season in the Championship, and they are clearly settled in by now. Whereas before they would be categorised as a highly-organised defensive unit, reliant on counter-attacks and set-plays, their current style of play appears to be much more balanced.
It is worth noting their last league fixture came at home against newly-promoted Peterborough United; while no fixture is easy in the Championship, it is the one fixture most teams will be hoping to pick up three points from this season.
Nonetheless, much of their play centred around tricky-wide play, not too dissimilar from what we saw Bournemouth present Albion with last week.
Luton’s second goal against Peterborough could have come straight from the Valerien Ismael handbook. It started off with an intense high-press, forcing a mistake; this was followed by a quick ball into the box with Harry Cornick there to tap it home.
Their first and third goals came from the wings too, so Albion’s wing-backs will have to be alert to the wide danger Luton will inevitably present.
Star-man: Fred Onyedinma
The Luton forward scored the Hatters’ third goal against The Posh, capping off an impressive afternoon, having already registered two assists. He was by far Luton’s most dangerous player of the afternoon, coming in primarily from the left-wing with tricky feet and an impressive work-ethic.
Onyedinma comes off the back of an average campaign, having registered just two goals and two assists in 43 appearances.
Having already matched his assist tally for last season, though, Onyedinma clearly means business. Albion will need to be alert to his danger.
Subs: Shea (GK), Rea, Gomes, Lansbury, Kioso, Jerome, Muskwe
West Bromwich AlbionEmbed from Getty Images
2-2 draw away at Bournemouth.
Style of play:
After just one competitive game in charge of West Brom, Ismael seems to have made his mark already. Albion’s performance on the south-coast was impressive to say the least, and was categorised by high-intensity, maximum effort and shades of real quality.
There is no doubt that Albion will line up in Ismael’s preferred 3-4-3 formation and there is no doubt as to what you are going to get: a high line, intense pressing, quick build-up play and quality set-pieces into the box. The wing-backs will push up high, supporting the attack as often as they do the defence.
We already saw how dangerous the wing-backs will be in this system; Conor ‘Carlos’ Townsend registered an assist, while Darnell Furlong was unlucky not to get one himself. If Albion play as well as they did for periods of the Bournemouth game, we are in for a treat.
Star-man: Alex Mowatt
I just cannot believe Albion signed this man for free. Come the end of the season, if he continues the way he has started, he will no doubt be in contention for signing of the season.
Mowatt has added something that the Albion midfield has been lacking for some time: energy mixed with quality. Jake Livermore, Mowatt’s partner and Albion’s captain also deserves a mention, sticking to what he does best: the dirty work.
Mowatt, though, seems to be able to do everything: tackle, pass, press, send in dangerous dead-balls rivaling Albion legend Chris Brunt, and ultimately, create big chances.
There is no doubt Mowatt’s control over the midfield will be crucial to any success Albion get Saturday afternoon.
Subs: Button (GK), Reach, Kipre, Ajayi, Castro, Diangana, Zohore
History of the fixture:
Games played: 10
West Brom wins: 5
Luton Town wins: 2
The last time Albion beat Luton: 2-0 (01/02/2020)
The last time Luton beat Albion: 0-2 (02/04/1996)
Furlong vs. Onyedinma (LW) & Bell (LB).
The key battles will no doubt take place in the wide areas and once again, Albion’s wing-backs will be crucial to victory.
As noted, we have already seen how dangerous Townsend and Furlong could prove to be for Albion this season. If they can bomb it up and down The Hawthorns all afternoon, they are certain to achieve success.
The key here, though, is ‘up AND down’ – they will need to track back as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is particularly true for Furlong, who will likely face the on-form Onyedinma on the left wing. He will also likely be providing defensive cover for Luton’s left-back. If Furlong can get past Onyedinma and Bell, and neutralise their threat, Albion should win the game.
Despite losing in the cup mid-week, Luton will be riding the high of such an impressive result last weekend, and will no doubt feel comfortable as Championship regulars three seasons in. Albion’s quality should, however, prove too much for the Hatters.
West Brom 3-1 Luton