Hatters chief not preparing any special plans to combat prolific Cottagers forward Mitrovic

Town boss knows his side will have to defend well against Serbian international

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Saturday, 11th December 2021, 10:42 am
Aleksander Mitrovic celebrates scoring one of his 21 goals for Fulham this season in the 7-0 win at Blackburn
Aleksander Mitrovic celebrates scoring one of his 21 goals for Fulham this season in the 7-0 win at Blackburn

Luton boss Nathan Jones won't be coming up with any specific plans to defend against the Championship’s leading marksman in Fulham’s Aleksander Mitrovic this afternoon.

The 27-year-old Serbian international is top scorer in the division, with 21 efforts thudding into the opposition net from just 20 appearances, including two hat-tricks against Swansea and West Bromwich Albion.

He scored in seven successive league matches recently, and managed four in his two appearances against Luton during the 2019-20 season, including a treble at Craven Cottage.

With the Cottagers on a massive 50 team goals for the season too, an average of just under 2.5 per game, when asked about preparing for the prolific forward, Jones said: “No, you just have to defend very well.

"Their front three are really potent, they’ve got people they can bring in that we haven’t got the luxury to do.

"I would imagine Mitrovic’s yearly wage is not far off our entire budget, so that’s what we come up against, but that’s no problem.

“We have to defend, it’s a test and if you don’t defend well against Mitrovic's, (Dominic) Solanke's or (Elijah) Adebayo's then you’ll concede goals and that’s the challenge.”

As expected, Marco Silva’s side are the frontrunners for promotion this term, having come down from the Premier League in the summer, adding Liverpool’s Harry Wilson for £12m to a squad already brimming with talent for the second tier.

They are currently on a 10-game unbeaten run, although have drawn their last three after a seven match winning streak, where they put four past QPR, Nottingham Forest and Barnsley, hammering Blackburn Rovers 7-0 at Ewood Park as well.

On the test ahead of his side, Jones continued: “It’s the hardest game in the league and the reason it’s the hardest game in the league is because right now they are the best team in the league.

"The reason they’re the best team in the league is because they’re top of the league, so they’ve been very consistent.

"They have a Premier League squad and they're either in the Premier League or top of the Championship, that’s their more recent history.

"We know it’s going to be a very, very tough game, they are the highest scorers in the league, they have some of the best players and they have a fantastic squad.

"But this is why we wanted to get to the Championship, to test ourselves all the time.

"If we wanted, with the greatest respect, to play Morecambe again, or whatever then we probably wouldn't have bothered getting promoted, so these are the games that we love playing in.

"A fully Kenny on a Saturday afternoon, we probably would prefer it to be a night game as we love a night game here, but a full Kenny against the favorites to go up, the ones with the biggest budget, probably the strongest squad, what a great afternoon and we’re going to relish the challenge.”

With Town favouring a high press approach against their opponents this term, when discussing if they will be able to do so and potentially leave themselves open at the back against such a potent strikeforce, Jones added: "We’re a better side now, every year we’ve improved every level of our attacking, of our defending and our pressing, so we’ll wait and see.

"I don’t want to say what we’re going to do as you never know who’s listening, watching or tuning in, but we’ll be ourselves, whatever version of ourselves that is.

"We’ve worked tactically and it’s a wonderful game.

"If you get things wrong, or you don’t perform well against Fulham you’re going to get punished as they’ve got threats all over, but the challenge is for us to get it right.”