51 teams have competed in the Premier League since its inception in 1992. Prior to May 28, 2023, when Luton Town defeated Coventry City, that figure was 50.
Rob Edwards’ Hatters ground their way into the top flight of English football for the first time in over three decades, deploying an effective, efficient style of football on the road to glorious promotion.
Luton Town’s existence, though, has been defined by turbulence. Here is everything you need to know about ‘team 51’ in the Premier League; including the manager, stadium, play style and squad.
Luton Town’s journey to the Premier League
Founded in 1885, Luton Town is all too used to the ups and downs of football. The tide has changed in recent years, though.
Former manager Nathan Jones, who’s spell at Southampton earlier this year was equal parts chaotic and catastrophic, almost guided the side to promotion in 2021-22.
The fans base would have to wait another 12 months. Their dream was realised in May this year, under the guidance of manager Rob Edwards.
The historic club has been through plenty; from a second-place First Division finish in 1955-56, League Cup success in 1998, administration in the early 2000s and a stint in non-league football to begin the 2010s. It’s been an enormous climb since.
Luton Town manager Rob Edwards
Former Welsh international Rob Edwards was the manager of fierce rivals Watford until late September. Following predecessor Nathan Jones’ departure, who since suffered an ill-fated Southampton tenure, Edwards was appointed as Luton manager in November 2022, with the side sitting 10th.
He revolutionised the side’s fortunes, winning 14 of 25 games and leading the Hatters to the Premier League promise land.
Luton Town squad, notable players
At the time of writing, Luton Town are yet to foray into the transfer market. Of their current crop of promotion winners, three main characters stand out as significant in their fortunes.
Club captain Tom Lockyer was a rock at the back throughout Luton’s promotion campaign. The 28-year-old Welsh centre back played 39 matches last season, scoring three goals, and helping the team keep 16 clean sheets. Without Lockyer, Luton managed just four clean sheets.
Midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has been at the club for nearly a decade, including early stints with the side in non-league. Despite starting 24 games, Mpanzu’s effortless, lung busting box-to-box contributions to Luton Town are invaluable. His persistent play style, which sees him average over 1 tackle per game and win 54% of his duels, compensates for his lack of creativity.
With 20 goals, striker Carlton Morris, who joined last summer from Barnsley, is undoubtedly Luton Town’s most important player. Without him, it’s hard to see a world where The Hatters gain promotion, especially when you throw his team-leading 7 assists. If Luton are any hope of retaining their Premier League status at the end of the 2023-24 season, Morris transferring his Championship form into the top flight is crucial.
Luton Town style of play
Proponents of a compact 3-5-2 system, which morphs into a 5-3-2 out of possession, Luton Town’s play revolves heavily around direct, long balls out of trouble and set piece excellence. 16 of their 57 league goals last season were born from set pieces.
Unlike many in the newest wave of football, Luton Town don’t prioritise possession, averaging 45.7% of the ball last season while also ranking 21st in accurate passes per game with 230. Expect both figures to drop further in the Premier League.
Despite not holding the ball for sustained periods, Edwards’ side are incredible at maximising their output within a limited possession time frame. No side produced more accurate crosses in the Championship last season, while their long balls are accurate 40% of the time.
Instead, Rob Edwards sets his side up to be difficult to play against in every aspect of the game. They’re ferocious pressers, winning the ball in the final third as many times per match as almost any other side in the Championship (4.7); only allowing the opposition 11 passes before a Luton defensive action disrupts their tempo.
When the ball enters the area, the Hatters are not delicate in dealing within it, ranking third for clearances on their way to the second-best defensive record in the second division. Expect them to be gritty and tough to beat throughout the 2023-24 Premier League season.
Luton Town stadium
Most fans would’ve seen the videos of Kenilworth Road by now, Luton’s home ground since 1905. Its entrances and stairways cut through and above surrounding homes, possessing character very rarely seen at more modern age sporting venues.
It is one of the most magnificent football grounds in England, almost as if fans and TV viewers alike are transported to a bygone era when matches are played there. Due to its compactness, the ground’s raucous atmosphere and intense energy swallow opposition teams, acting as a 12th man in every sense of the word.
Expect no different in the top flight.
Why ‘The Hatters’?
The Hatters is the club nickname, but also the name for Luton Town FC supporters.
It pay homage to Luton’s historic connection to the hat making trade, dating back to the 17th century.
Luton is a town in England’s Bedfordshire county, about an hour’s drive north of the centre of London.