Hatters chief is keeping one two new formations 'up his sleeve' as he plots Premier League survival

Edwards believes Town can play a few more shapes in bid to stay up
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Luton boss Rob Edwards insists he is keeping another few formations ‘up his sleeve’ as he bids to mastermind Luton’s Premier League survival this season.

The Hatters started off life in the top flight by sticking to the principles that enabled them to reach the promised land last term, an attacking 3-5-2 system, but that simply led to heavy defeats against Brighton (4-1) and Chelsea (3-0).

They stuck with the same methods in the 2-1 home loss to West Ham, but frustrated at the level of chances Town were gifting their opponents, Edwards then tightened things up with the loan signing of Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga, also operating with just one upfront when out of possession in the 1-0 defeat at Fulham

Hatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam SmithHatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam Smith
Hatters boss Rob Edwards - pic: Liam Smith

But for Carlos Vinicius’s winner, the Cottagers barely threatened all afternoon, which was the same against Wolves on Saturday in a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road.

Pedro Neto fired the visitors in front from their first shot on target, but bar one corner that saw keeper Thomas Kaminski forced into a double save, Gary O’Neil’s side never seriously looked like scoring.

With Lokonga now out for a sustained period of time, on whether he will move away from the system which has begun to bring Luton some joy and opt for someone like Tahith Chong to add a more attacking flair to proceedings, Edwards said: “Since we’ve made the shift we’ve had two of our best performances.

"We know the other shape very, very well and we know we’ve got the personnel to play that, so we’ve got both strings to our bow.

"I still think we’ve got one or two others that are up our sleeves that we want to get working on as well, but I think we’ve got two good options there.”

Last weekend, the Hatters looked like their old selves in the early stages, storming at their opponents from the first whistle, with the kind of performance home fans had been used to seeing on their way to and in the second tier last term.

Engaging the crowd and flooding men forward, with Alfie Doughty and Chiedoze Ogbene in eye-catching form on the left hand side, whether they can roll up that kind of approach and take it with them to Goodison Park when they face Everton tomorrow, Edwards continued: “It will be different, we’ll have to be ready for how they start and their crowd, but we’ve got to manage that.

"I would love us to still start on the front foot and be aggressive, but recognise that we’ve got to be ready for that and we might have to manage the game.

“I’d like us to try to find a balance between our last couple of performances between Fulham and Wolves.

“We know what’s coming, we know they’ll be out of the traps quickly.

"We’ve got to be ready to match that, but similar to last week, we’ve got to give them something to think about as well.

“We can work on it as a plan, we can train it.

"We were very aggressive last weekend and almost went man for man in our press.

"I think we’ve got to choose the right times to do that.

“There’s times when we can go and we can be brave, like we were probably at all times last year, but in the Premier League you’ve got to make sure you pick your moments and choose the right times to go and press.

"Likewise, when you commit bodies forward it’s making sure we don’t get hurt on the transition, because they’re a very good counter-attacking team as well, Everton, like we got done last week against Wolves.

“So, we’ve got to make sure we keep that back door shut as well when we have got the ball and we’re attacking.”

One thing that Luton’s two shapes hasn’t led to far is an improved goal return, with the Hatters managing to find the net just three times in the league all season, and only once from open play, that being Mads Andersen’s stoppage time header against West Ham.

Carlton Morris has the other two from the penalty spot, but with 20 attempts mustered against Wolves, it means Edwards isn’t too concerned just yet.

He said: “It’s been a bit of a topic now for the last few weeks, the last few games, because we have created chances but not quite been able to take them.

“I would be more concerned if we weren’t creating the chances, so all we can do at the moment is keep believing in what we’re doing, keep arriving in the right areas, when we’re out there (in training) keep practising it.

“If you’re shying away from it and not getting in the areas to score then that’s a concern, but we’re getting into areas and good positions, we’ve just got to make that final bit count.

“Whether that’s the final pass, whether it’s the shot, we’ve got to be more clinical.

"That’s me, that’s all of us, not just the forwards because anyone could be getting chances.

“We’ve had defenders that had big chances against Fulham, for instance, so it’s all of us as a collective.”

One thing that was highlighted in Saturday’s draw was the level of defending Town are going to be coming up against this season.

Whereas Luton had to make just five clearances, with no blocked shots, the visitors managed a massive 33 clearances and blocked eight, as time and time again when the Hatters went to pull the trigger, a defender was there in the nick of time.

Edwards knows that will be the case all year, as he added: “That’s the level we’re at now, so that’s the level we’re going to get judged against and that’s fine, that’s no problem.

"That’s for me and all of us to get better and keep improving, we are and that’s the reality of it.

"I think everyone did give us the pat on the back when we got promoted, ‘well done Luton Town, an amazing journey.’

"Now we are here, we get judged as a Premier League team.

"We’re up against world class players in every single game.

"Every team has got them, they've paid a lot of money for them, so that’s all right, that's fine.

"That’s for us to keep improving, and it makes us better.”