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Sunderland v Luton - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Luton fan Ian is predicting a fifth consecutive 1-1 draw between his side & Sunderland!

We caught up with Ian from the We Are Luton Town fan page ahead of today’s massive game in the Championship playoffs. What can Sunderland expect from Rob Edwards’ side?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Luton were eliminated in the semi-finals of the playoffs - what feels different from last season?

Ian Robertson: We don’t have an endless list of injuries, that helps of course, but also we just snuck in on the last day of the season - lots of parallels with how you’ve gone about your entry into the play-offs.

I’d also say that we’ve improved the squad over the last two windows, we’ve got more depth and much more solid as a unit, we have so many factors in our favour this time around - but that doesn’t mean jot in the playoffs and we are fully aware of that.

With only two league defeats in 2023 and a current unbeaten run of 14 matches, is it safe to say that confidence is sky-high amongst the players and fans?

IR: Confident but humble, we know the task ahead of us and I think it’s more nerve-racking knowing we have a better chance than we did last season with a fully fit squad and in such a good run of form.

It’s a weird feeling too, emotions are so up and down, last season it was a bonus we got 6th place and a chance, this season we know we’re a force but also know football isn’t as simple as that.

Luton Town v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Kenilworth Road
Rob Edwards has won 15 of his 29 matches in charge of Luton so far.
Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images

When Luton fans saw that Sunderland were the team they would be facing, what was the general reaction like?

IR: For the most part, I think we knew it didn’t matter who we were going to face as it was always going to be a difficult fixture, but there were murmurings of wanting a closer game, Millwall would have been ideal.

Sunderland are without all of our senior fit recognised centre-backs and Tony Mowbray said we probably have the smallest defence in Britain - do you think that could be heavily exposed against a Luton side that is known for its physicality?

IR: I know it’s said a lot, but it is like a cup game and anything can happen - I’m not sure how much personnel is going to matter on the night and it’s more about who wants it more and having that bit of luck.

This was evident against Huddersfield in last season's playoffs, we were down to the bare bones and many neutrals thought we should have won, that one move or one decision might just be the difference.

Luton Town v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship
Enjoying the best goal scoring form of his career so far, Carlton Morris will be the player to watch for Luton.
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Rob Edwardsside finished the season with the joint-second-best defensive record in the league, what is it that makes your defence so solid?

IR: We’ve had our injuries at the back too, we’ve only just got three of them back, but we are a team and despite the players we’ve had available they’ve done really well.

That’s partly down to our shape, but also down to Marvelous Nakamba who is like having another whole line of defence in front of our actual back line - he’s incredible.

You highlighted last time we spoke the form of Carlton Morris, who has now reached 20 goals for the season, what are the factors behind his majestic run of goals?

IR: Pretty much what I said last time, his hold-up play and ability to score with both feet and his head gives him a decent head start, but he’s good on the ball too, strong and can take players on.

With Nakamba coming in, it’s given Morris and Adebayo a little more freedom to press without tracking back as much as they did previously.

Luton Town v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship - Kenilworth Road
Marvelous Nakamba joined Luton on loan from Aston Villa in January, who bought him for 12 million euros in 2019.
Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

The match has now sold out with over 45,000 fans set to be inside the Stadium of Light, do you this could be intimidating for the Luton players or something that they will relish playing in?

IR: I think they’ll relish the moment, if we can keep you at bay for the first half I think that’ll play into our hands.

With the final leg being played at Kenilworth Road, how do you think Edwards will approach the match tactically?

IR: I’m fairly sure he’ll be going out to win both legs, he likes taking a few more risks than Nathan Jones did, and he won’t want to have any regrets about not going for it.

Sunderland v Luton - Sky Bet Championship
Amad equalised from the penalty spot when the two sides last met at the Stadium of Light.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Are any players missing and which eleven players do you think Edwards will go with?

IR: In terms of players missing it is just Cauley Woodrow.

The starting eleven that I believe Edwards will go for is: Horvath (GK), Drameh, Lockyer, Osho, Bell, Doughty, Nakamba, Mpanzu, Clark, Adebayo, Morris.

The last four games between the two sides have ended 1-1 - what is your score prediction for this time around?

IR: 1-1 - Can’t see past it, also think both teams will be happy with that given your away form.


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