Luton boss urges his players to deal with rare favourites tag against Sheffield United
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Luton boss Rob Edwards has urged his players to deal with the rare tag of being favourites going into a Premier League contest this season when hosting Sheffield United at Kenilworth Road later today.
The Hatters have been the underdogs in all 22 of their top flight fixtures so far, as was expected when coming up against some of the best sides in world football this season, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal to name just three. However this afternoon, Town face a Blades side who have struggled badly this term after winning promotion from the Championship, with just two wins all season, and none away from home, as they sit rock bottom of the division, already 10 points from safety. It means that there will be an expectancy on Edwards’ side, who are as high as 7/10 with some bookmakers to claim all three points, with the visitors way down at 19/5.
It is something new for Luton to contend with, but the Hatters boss, who has led his side to three wins and two draws from six, as they remain unbeaten in all competitions this calendar year, knows they can’t afford to let things slip performance-wise, even against a side who are already looking certainties for relegation, saying: “We’ve got to be able to deal with that and that’s understandable I suppose at the moment. I wouldn’t say we’re big favourites, there’s not loads separating the two teams, but we’re going in in good form and we’re confident, recognising that it’s a really big challenge ahead.
"There’s no game that’s easy in the Premier League and if we step off it at all we can get punished. So like I keep saying, it’s foot down to the floor and making sure that we’re doing all the right things that we've been doing better, especially these last few months. That will give us an opportunity and a platform and a chance to win the game, but if we don’t, if we step off, we’ll get punished. From early in the week, we’ve talked about the importance of this game, so hopefully the players respond to that and do things right.
"To win in the Premier League is really difficult, so I don’t expect a drop off in performance. The message all week has been no let up, fully focused, carry on doing what we’re doing, learn and get better. Improve on the bits that we got wrong against Newcastle, show the good stuff, go and try to replicate a lot of the good things and brush up on the areas that we got wrong. I’ve got no interest in what the bookies do at all, that’s up to them, we just concentrate on our performance.”
A victory for the Hatters could see them open up a four point gap over third bottom Everton, who head to Manchester City in the early kick-off, with the potential of climbing as high as 15th, should Brentford lose at Wolves and Nottingham Forest fail to beat Newcastle United in the evening game. With that in mind, asked if it was deemed as a must-win game by those at Kenilworth Road, Edwards added: “We want to win, we know it’s a really big game, but they all are.
"We recognise how important every game is and this one ahead of us next, two teams that are trying to avoid relegation and stay in the league, so it’s a big one. We don't go into any game right now saying it’s a must win because they’re not, for us, it may get to that stage, later on, further down the line, if it is then it is, but I recognise, we all do, how big a game it is. You’ve got to be clear in what we do, which I think we are and we’ve got a good way about ourselves at the moment.
"A lot of it is us and then we have a feeling which way they’ll go. We don’t exactly know what personnel, so we can have a plan for that, but this is the same as any game, you’ve got to have something to fall back on. You’ve got to have a real understanding of what our plan is and how we play and then try and commit to that and then on the day you’ve got to make good decisions. But in training, what we try to do, we try to make a lot of it about decision-making, try to give players problems to solve and then hopefully they can go and do that when it really matters on the match day.”