Coventry City vs Luton Town. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats and more
The legendary Wembley will witness dreams come true in a passionate contest – the promotion to the Premier League is only 1 hurdle away. But only those who will prove themselves worthy will get a ticket – can Coventry City make it to the elite for the first time since 2001? Or will Luton Town gift their loyal fans a fairytale by making it to the EPL for the first time ever?
What can we expect this Saturday night? Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.
Coventry City News & Current Form:
For the first time since 2001, Coventry City may finally return to the English Premier League. Before that, they have not left the elite division for 34 years and have managed to be remembered by all the fans of British football.
The Sky Blues, contrary to all sorts of circumstances and predictions, still got the long-awaited chance to once again be in the company of the strongest clubs in England. By the way, victory in the playoffs is worth at least £170m even if the winners finish bottom in the Premier League next season.
The task seemed quite difficult, but Coventry have overcome such a thorny path this season, not to give up in the face of difficulties at the most important moment for the team. And the way for the Singers was very difficult indeed, but first things first.
It all started out like a dramatic thriller. During a preseason friendly, team captain Liam Kelly suffered a hamstring injury and was sidelined until December. Despite the impressive results in these games, the team’s mood was pretty bad even before the start of the main competition.
After the away draw in the first round against Sunderland AFC, Mark Robins’ charges were waiting for the home game against Rotherham United FC, but the team never got to play. Coventry Building Society Arena pitch was in total disrepair after many matches of the city’s rugby team. The game was postponed indefinitely.
The Sky Blues celebrated their birthday on 13 August, the day the Singers football club, the ancestor of Coventry, was born in 1883. The festivities started beautifully – the birthday boys had a two-goal lead at Millwall FC, but before the final whistle they managed to squander the advantage and lost.
The next home game, and accordingly the tour, Coventry missed again, as the lawn was still not in good condition. And away the team continued to lose, this time losing to Hull City FC (2 – 3). The return to the home arena in the 6th round has also not added optimism, The Singers lost to Preston North End FC and occupied the last line of the Championship.
A real nightmare came to the minds of City fans after the painful defeat by Norwich City FC (0 – 3). One point after five games played insisted that Coventry would have to sit at the bottom of the table this season and fight for their salvation with all their might. And the strength at that time, it seemed, almost nonexistent.
The depressing start to the season without a captain, a stadium and with a lot of problems in psychological terms was compensated for a little by the end of September. Coventry players did not lose within 4 games, and in the fifth game they lost to the future champion Burnley FC. The team’s microclimate is beginning to improve, despite the fact that it is still not possible to move up in the table.
The next month was a real breakthrough, and perhaps the main catalyst on the way to eventual success. The Sky Blues scored 7 wins in 9 matches and significantly improved their standings. Finally, the team’s main hope, Viktor Gyökeres, started scoring. The Swedish Coventry international sent 6 goals to his opponents’ net in 28 days, most of which were game-winning goals.
The pause associated with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar played a very cruel joke on Coventry, which almost deprived the team of all chances and hopes of success. In eight league games, Robins’ men have won just one, with three draws and four defeats. If you add to this list the departure from the Emirates FA Cup by Wrexham AFC, then the picture is quite sad.
But that’s not even the worst part of the story. On Boxing Day in the game against Sheffield United FC one of the team leaders, Callum O’Hare gets a cruciate ligament injury. The midfielder leaves the field already in the 8th minute of the game and says goodbye to football for six months.
The club came to its senses from the hail of failure by the end of January, when no one even thought about possible participation in the playoffs at the end of the season. Despite the crazy density in the table, Coventry did not look like a candidate for the top six, there were enough worthy contenders.
On February 3, Coventry lost to West Bromwich Albion FC. After this, the fairy tale that the club’s fans have been dreaming of for decades happened. The Singers had a fantastic series in the final 17 games of the season, scoring 32 points. Jamie Allen and Kasey Palmer were in brilliant form, and Gyökeres continued to score a lot. Just one loss in the final stretch of the season allowed City to clinch the playoff spot.
Also, something incredible happened to City’s rivals at the end of the championship. And with all of them at the same time. Blackburn Rovers FC, Millwall, West Bromwich, Preston and Watford FC all at once fell ill with a still poorly studied disease and all together they failed the rest of the season.
Coventry, you could say, is a coincidental playoff participant. Yes, the Sky Blues finished the season in fifth place, but they were in the playoff zone (top-6) for the least amount of days – only 17 days. By comparison, Sunderland was in the top-6 for 51 days, Luton for 104 days, and Middlesbrough FC for 130. In the meantime, poor Blackburn spent 211 days in the top-6, only to slip down the table and remain without the coveted playoffs.
The team’s results were influenced by Coach Robins’ long-term step-by-step work. He has shown himself to be a master at handling chaos and a miracle manager.
When he took over as coach of Coventry in March 2017, the team was at the bottom of League One, 13 points behind safety. A month later, a final EFL Trophy victory at Wembley Stadium in front of more than 43,000 Coventry fans reminded everyone of the club’s appeal.
Robins, who signed a new four-year contract last week, was quick to acknowledge the team’s need to build bridges with apathetic fans.
“The fans are very depressed, and attendance is down. Make no mistake, if we have a good season and things go in the right direction, the fans will come back because they want to support the club. The fans crave that positive vibe.”
Robins instituted rules such as banning cell phones in the locker room to encourage his players to develop relationships. He also wanted his players to be immersed in the community, and make connections with fan clubs.
He turned Gustavo Hamer and Viktor Gyökeres into two of the most coveted players outside of the top division. Another of their best players, Callum O’Hare, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December.
If Robins brings Coventry City back to the Premier League after 22 years of wandering, during which the club experienced serious financial problems and was even deprived of its own stadium twice, he will become the second head coach to take the team from the fourth to the top division in the Premier League era.
However, unlike Eddie Howe, who left AFC Bournemouth for Burnley and then came back, Robins has always stayed with the Sky Blues: yes, the coach left the club in 2013, but on his return in 2017 found the club in the same division.
This season, Viktor Gyökeres has become a real talisman for Coventry City. Literally an irreplaceable Swedish player who spent 4022 of a possible 4140 minutes on the field, appearing in the starting lineup in 44 games and only twice went out as a substitute. And during this time the Swede managed to score 21 goals and draw 10 assists, becoming the best footballer in the Championships in terms of scoring actions, ahead of Chuba Akpom (30) and Carlton Morris (27).
In a very pragmatic manner the Sky Blues got past a tough Middlesbrough side in the semi-final stage. They played both very dry Grandmaster matches against them, which ended 0 – 0 and 1 – 0.
Viktor Gyokeres is confident his team will show top-tier performance in this game:
“We are in the position we wanted to be, so now we must make sure we go up. We have to be confident, and I am confident in this team.”
Luton Town News & Current Form:
In 2013, you could see Luton Town on the headlines of all English newspapers, because then the humble club from the National League beat Norwich, the Premier League team, in the FA Cup. Ten years later, the Hatters now finish the season 10 spots higher in the Championship and 18 more points than Norwich. And to move up in the EPL, leaving the Canaries in the Championship, they need to win just three games.
The last 16 years for Luton have been truly unpredictable and full of both despair and unspeakable joy. Back in 2007, the club began their decline from the Championship, first to League 1, then to League Two and then to the National League – their lightning relegation was caused by a colossal 30-point penalty in the 2009/10 season due to financial irregularities.
After four years in the fifth division of England, the Hatters began to steadily move up from division to division. After returning to the English Football League in 2014, the club did not stop there and already played in the Championship in 2019.
Now the club is three games away from returning to England’s top division, but this season has already been historic for the club – the final third place in the Championships is the club’s best result in the last 31 years. And this despite the change of the head coach right in the course of the campaign: Nathan Jones left the post of head coach in November and was replaced by Rob Edwards, who was previously dismissed by Luton’s rival Watford.
By the time Jones left for Southampton FC, Luton was in ninth place after 20 games in the Championship, but still two points away from the playoffs. The Hatters were collecting 1.45 points per game, and if they had kept that rate, the playoffs would have been out of the question. Under Edwards, the team started scoring 2.00 points per game, third best in the league behind eventual champion Burnley and runner-up Sheffield United.
You could say that Luton finished the season quietly with a 5-point lead over fourth-placed Middlesbrough and 11 points over seventh-placed Blackburn. But such a gap became possible largely due to the incredible play of Luton in defense: only Burnley conceded fewer goals and had a lower indicator of expected conceded goals. Luton have only 39 conceded goals and 44.6 expected conceded goals in 46 games in the Championship.
Compared to most teams in the table, Luton certainly doesn’t score many goals, their summer rookie Carlton Morris has scored more than a third of the team’s goals for the season, 20 of 57. Straightforward football, quick delivery of the ball to the opponent’s half, of a team that leads the league in ball movement rates (1.81 m/s) is skillfully combined with high pressing: no team in the Championship this season has committed more provoked fumbles than Luton: 390 or 8.5 per game.
Luton Town beat Sunderland 2 – 0 thanks to goals from Gabriel Osho and Tom Lockyer in last Saturday night’s return playoff semifinal match. The first game of the semifinal stage, however, was left to Sunderland as the Black Cats beat the Hatters 2 – 1 on May 13.
The game was full of intrigue, drive and pure emotion, so the spectators who preferred this match to the Milan derby in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League should have been pleased.
The teams acted in opposite styles, Sunderland tried to play from the bottom and carefully play the ball, and Luton’s actions were more vertical and playing up top. Both teams created a fair amount of chances, but only Luton scored, and both of the Hatters’ goals were scored by the center-backs after set-pieces.
When it comes to the absent players, a promising alternative to Jordan Clark in midfield could be none other than Allan Campbell. Meanwhile, for the back three, should Edwards deem it necessary to bolster the team’s physicality in order to effectively handle dangerous Gyökeres, the option of deploying Reece Burke becomes a viable consideration.
However, it’s unfortunate to report that Cauley Woodrow, due to a knee injury, has been unable to make a timely recovery and therefore won’t be able to join the substitute players.
Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, signed initially on loan from West Ham United FC, and helped the club towards the Conference Premier (now National League) title in 2014. The midfielder, now 29, has been there ever since. He has clocked up more than 300 league appearances for Luton and has three promotions to his name. He could make it four, and make history, on Saturday.
Tom Lockyer reflected on his journey:
“Mine and Luton’s journeys have mirrored each other and if we can make that next step together, that would be amazing. We need to have one eye on the bigger picture. We don’t just want to go to Wembley and have a day out.”
Coventry City form guide: D-W-W-D-D-W
Luton Town form guide: D-W-D-D-L-W
Coventry City vs Luton Town Head-To-Head Record:
- December 8, 2020: Coventry City 0 – 0 Luton Town (Championship);
- March 16, 2021: Luton Town 2 – 0 Coventry City (Championship);
- September 29, 2021: Luton Town 5 – 0 Coventry City (Championship);
- March 8, 2022: Coventry City 0 – 1 Luton Town (Championship);
- September 14, 2022: Luton Town 2 – 2 Coventry City (Championship);
- February 11, 2023: Coventry City 1 – 1 Luton Town (Championship).
Coventry City vs Luton Town Predicted XI:
Coventry City possible starting lineup (3-5-1-1): Wilson; McNally, McFadzean, Doyle; Norton-Cuffy, Hamer, Kelly, Sheaf, Bidwell; Godden, Gyokeres.
Luton Town possible starting lineup (3-5-2): Horvath; Osho, Lockyer, Bell; Drameh, Clark, Nakamba, Mpanzu, Doughty; Adebayo, Morris.
Statistical preview of the match Coventry City vs Luton Town:
- Coventry are without a loss in their last 9 games.
- Luton are unbeaten in 15 of their last 17 games.
- Luton are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with Coventry in all competitions.
- This is Luton’s first-ever appearance in a Football League play-off final.
- Coventry are looking to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2000-01.
- In the last 5 games, Coventry conceded an average of 0.40 goals per game, but scored an average of 1.20 goals per game.
- In the last 5 games, Luton are conceding an average of 0.80 goals per game and scoring an average of 1.20 goals per game.
- Top scorers of Coventry City – Viktor Gyokeres (22+11), Gustavo Hamer (10+10), Matt Godden (8+4).
- Top scorers of Luton Town – Carlton Morris (20+8), Elijah Adebayo (10+4), Tom Lockyer (5+1).
What has been said before the match:
Boss of Coventry City Mark Robins ahead of the decisive Championship game:
“We’re all excited and we need to make sure everyone keeps their feet on the floor. It’s a special occasion and we’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to be a really interesting game, on the day, between two teams who want to get into the Premier League. We are both really well-supported teams and it will be noisy at Wembley.”
“It will also be very hot and nothing will prepare the players for the noise. Liam Kelly is the only player that will know what is coming when they walk out. It will make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up.”
“It is going to be a really special atmosphere and hopefully we can come out of it on the right side of the result. Regardless, we have done exceptionally well this season, and so have Luton Town.”
“It’s a romantic story, the journey of both of the Clubs has been one. They were in the National League with a points deduction to deal with. It took them five years to return to the EFL and what a run it has been since.”
“They have always been a year ahead of us but now we meet here on the biggest of stages. We’re both on the same pitch at the same time, it’s a phenomenal story, that’s for sure.”
“The Club have kept me in post when they could have removed me during difficult periods but we’ve come out the other side by staying focussed, both the Club staff and the supporters. The relationship between the players and the supporters is incredible. That is what will make Saturday so special.”
Luton Town boss Rob Edwards about how his team accomplished the impossible this season:
“Our away form was just as good as our home form and we’ll have over 36,000 people behind us, I feel we’ll be supported even more. I know Coventry will have the same, but it will make for a great atmosphere and so far this season, the lads have really risen in those big games and big occasions, it’s brought the best out of them.”
“Last week was a good example of that, Watford here or Sheffield United away, they’ve done well in big games and hopefully one more we can perform in, in the biggest of them all.”
“It shows you can achieve something, and you can get there, but you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to have consistency, you’ve got to recruit well, you’ve got to be savvy and then know what you are and try to be good at it, that’s what we’ve done really well.”
“When you come into the club, you try and make yourself really aware of the players and you watch a lot of footage so I’m prepared when I have my interview etc. when I’m talking about the squad.”
“What I could see was a really good group of players who were very competitive and were in a good position in the league, but you don’t see everything behind the scenes and all the great people that are here that put so much time and effort to make the club run really smoothly. Brilliant people here, I’m around good people.”
Coventry City vs Luton Town Prediction:
Considering the stats of the opponents and the status of the match – bearing in mind that this pairing will determine the third EPL entrant – it is logical to expect a lot of yellow cards. In such a crucial encounter, no one will be tidy, it’s all or nothing. Coventry City are averaging 2.2 bookings per game, while Luton Town are receiving 2.1 yellow cards per 90.
Apart from the fact that the teams will be under immense pressure and will be wary of making a fatal blunder, it should be understood that the goalkeepers of these teams often manage to keep their goals intact. Golden-Glove Ben Wilson (Coventry City) boasts 20 clean sheets from 43 matches played (46.6%), while his counterpart – Ethan Horvath – accounts for 19 on-zero matches, which is 43.2% of all outings played. This is just another reason to believe we won’t see many goals in this match.
That said, the sympathy of our editorial team falls to Luton Town. A wonderful story could happen: this club has never appeared in the Premier League, but dreams of getting there are real and they truly deserve it. In 31 seasons of EPL’s existence, the club has been through all the circles of hell. They have been de-pointed, spent 9 years in the third-ranked division, 6 years in the fourth and 5 outside the elite leagues.
In the short years since their arrival in the Championship, the Hatterboys have made tremendous progress with meager resources (for example, they huddle in the league’s smallest stadium — Kenilworth Road — with a capacity of just 10,000 people). And they also reached the playoffs last season but were eliminated in the semi-finals.
Now they are closer to triumph than ever. Luton have been steady throughout the current season and were on their way to another attempt to break into the elite of English football. The Orange and Blue have shown more balanced football while boasting the second most reliable defensive performance in the Championship (conceding just 0.85 on average per 90 minutes). They also maintain a strong grasp on the history of head-to-head encounters – Luton have not lost in nine games (four wins and five draws). We believe the Hatters can find their way to the Premier League of the 23/24 edition.
Parimatch News staff prediction:
We say: Handicap Luton Town (0) – Yes; Yellow cards total will be over 3,5 – Yes.