Luton Town make two changes to the XI that started the 3-0 defeat at Chelsea this time last week. Alfie Doughty and Mads Andersen come in form Issa Kaboré, who drops to the bench, and captain Tom Lockyer, who is missing from the squad altogether.
West Ham make two changes from the starting XI named for the 3-1 win at Brighton last Saturday. Nayef Aguerd and Said Benrahma replace Angelo Ogbonna, who drops to the bench, and the suspended Tomas Soucek. Box-fresh signing Mohammed Kudus is named as a sub.
Luton Town: Kaminski, Doughty, Burke, Andersen, Bell, Giles, Chong, Nakamba, Barkley, Adebayo, Morris.
Subs: Ogbene, Berry, Woodrow, Kabore, Mpanzu, Brown, Krul, Johnson, Francis-Clarke.
West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson Palmieri, Alvarez, Ward-Prowse, Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Benrahma, Antonio.
Subs: Fabianski, Cresswell, Fornals, Kudus, Cornet, Ings, Ogbonna, Kehrer, Mubama.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
Welcome, welcome, welcome home to
ITV Kenilworth Road! This evening, Luton Town host their first match in the top flight of English football since 25 April 1992. A bittersweet day in retrospect, as the Hatters beat Aston Villa 2-0 thanks to Brian Stein’s glancing header and Mark Pembridge’s 25-yard rake, a result that kept their slim survival hopes alive to the final weekend. Those hopes were subsequently dashed by defeat at Notts County, and Luton were cashiered out of the first tier, away from the shiny new Premier League they’d voted in favour of forming. Cue great fall and rise, and here we are again.
Thing is, while Luton were in the process of getting themselves relegated that fateful 1991-92 season, their home form was actually pretty good. Their home match previous to the Villa game was a 1-1 draw with Manchester United that planted such a large seed of doubt in Alex Ferguson’s side’s collective mind that they went on to lose their next three matches and blow the title. Before that, Kenilworth Road was the venue for wins over Nottingham Forest and Wimbledon. Back further, a couple of draws against Spurs and Crystal Palace; further back still, victories over Sheffield United and Norwich. In other words, Luton exited the division while on an eight-game unbeaten streak at home.
In fact, you have to go back to 18 January 1992 for Luton’s last top-flight defeat at Kenilworth Road, which they suffered at the hands of … this stuff writes itself … West Ham United. That match was decided midway through the second half by Mike Small, whose shot deflected off Trevor Peake and looped over goalkeeper Steve Sutton for the game’s only goal. Cue great fall and rise, and here we are again.
West Ham will fancy their chances of repeating the trick, 31 years on, this evening, having flown out of the blocks this season with impressive wins over Chelsea and Brighton. Luton by contrast are yet to pick up so much as a point, but away fixtures at Brighton and Chelsea were never going to be easy for newly promoted underdogs, and to be fair, Rob Edwards’ men kept both sides honest for long periods in those games. Also, as history shows, Kenilworth Road can be one hell of a place to get a result from. Here’s to a cracker. Kick off is at 8pm BST. It’s on!