Luton Town v Sunderland
This tie couldn’t be better set-up for the return leg at Kenilworth Road. Both sides had times in the first leg when they were in the ascendancy and both will feel that they could’ve built on that better.
Luton clearly have a physicality edge over Sunderland. They are a taller and stronger team, and they used that in the first half-hour to keep Sunderland at arm’s length and also to threaten going forwards through Adebayo and Morris.
However, the match completely changed on one moment of absolute quality from Amad Diallo. This is exactly why Sunderland are so dangerous though. The Black Cats have so many technically gifted and dynamic forward players that this can happen at any moment.
From the goal onwards though Sunderland were in control. In a way, this was fairly surprising because Sunderland only scraped into the playoffs on the final day and Luton have clearly been the better side over the full season. However, this is the beauty of the playoffs and the consideration of a team’s potential high level or floor level of performance on a particular day really matters.
Having watched the first leg there are definite areas where we can pick out some Luton tips and Sunderland tips. The Luton vs Sunderland Bet Builder tips produce a combined bet with odds above 3/1. If you’ve not yet signed up to Paddy Power then now is the perfect time to get involved in some Luton Town v Sunderland bet builder tips. Click claim on the offer below and get your stake refunded in cash for your first bet if it doesn’t land:
Luton’s Home Form to be Tested
The famed Kenilworth Road atmosphere is going to be needed on Tuesday night.
Luton have a really strong home record. Their last 10 home matches have seen only one defeat, to champions Burnley, and that match was also their only loss on the xG battle in that time frame too. This means that they have created a greater chance of scoring than their opponents in nine out of their last ten home matches. Their xG differential over this period is an average of +0.5, theoretically giving them half a goal’s worth of chances over their opponents per match.
The question is, does this form apply to the forthcoming match? It will have some bearing because of the confidence that the Luton players will have knowing about their ability at home. However, the actual situation that they find themselves in is clearly very different from those regular season matches.
Only in two of their last ten matches have Luton won by a two-goal margin. Obviously, they don’t necessarily need to win by two goals here, a one-goal win takes it into extra time, but it is not usually the modus operandi of Luton to go out for goals.
Initially, it is more likely that Rob Edwards will approach this like any other home game, and the way that they started the first leg, by trying to take the game to the opposition through their physicality, speed, and direct play. Keeping Sunderland out will be equally as important as well, and that is something that Luton have done really well, keeping 70% of their opponents to an xG value under 1 at home.
Luton Town Team News
It is highly likely that there will be no changes in personnel for Rob Edwards for this leg of the tie. Alfie Doughty did have some cramping issues in the first leg but is likely to retain his place.
This would mean a 3-5-2 of Horvath, Lockyer, Osho, Bell, Drameh, Doughty, Mpanzu, Nakamba, Clark, Morris, Adebayo.
Changes are likely to come earlier if there is no change in the scoreline going into the second half. Luke Berry is primed for a substitute role, and Cauley Woodrow may be called upon to supplement the forward line as well.
No Defenders, No Problem
A very makeshift back-line which included no recognised central defenders was thought to be a big problem for Sunderland going into the match on Saturday. Elijah Adebayo did get some joy early in the match but this did not set the tone for the 90 minutes at all.
Luke O’Nien is very combative, too combative for many people’s liking, but his attitude summed up Sunderland’s willingness to commit to the fight. Trai Hume is growing in stature every week and proving what a quality piece of recruitment he was, and with Patrick Roberts and Lynden Gooch playing out of position, it again demonstrates the adaptability that Tony Mowbray can coach into his players and the willingness of the players to do a job for the team.
Essentially, this is the key to Sunderland’s success. They have bounced back from every setback so far, the injuries seem to be galvanising the remainder of the squad and the vociferous fans, who are usually really expectant, are fully behind the players and enjoying the ride.
It is going to take a big Luton performance to turn the game around, regardless of who Sunderland have to call on for the Tuesday night match. Sunderland fans, and Tony Mowbray, will do well to think back to their performance and result against Burnley in the Championship a few weeks ago. On that night they were really well organised defensively and kept the best-attacking team in the division down to 1.1xG and a 0-0 scoreline.
Sunderland Team News
There are more injury concerns for Mowbray ahead of the second leg.
Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts were forced from the field during the game on Saturday. Roberts may have to be replaced by injury-prone full-back Niall Huggins, who did come on on Saturday, but has rarely played all season. Joe Anderson is another name who may be considered for the rag-tag defence.
If Pritchard can’t make it back in time, then potentially Eduoard Michut could deputise. Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah, who completed his first-ever senior 90 minutes in the first leg, did a manful job in the midfield on Saturday and should keep their places.
The attacking unit will remain the same as Amad, Joe Gelhardt, and Jack Clarke all had impressive games on Saturday.
Luton Town v Sunderland Cheat Sheet
There is potential for this game to produce several cards given how close the tie still stands between the two sides. With the play-off final, rightly labelled the ‘richest game in football’, still up for grabs, there is plenty at stake to lose for both sides, which could result in a fair amount fo fouls. Whoever lines up in defence to mark Joe Gelhardt could be in for a rough afternoon, with the on-loan forward averaging 2.56 fouls draw per game.
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Luton Town v Sunderland
There are a lot of pointers towards this being a potentially card-heavy encounter.
First of all, the first leg was pretty fiery, with some moments of controversy that have bubbled up more since the end of the match. A couple of elbows from Sunderland players that either went unseen, or as some may have seen it, under-punished, and a potential sending-off for a Luton player as well.
The referee for this tie is regular Premier League official Simon Hooper. Hooper has taken charge of no Championship matches this term, but does have a 27-match campaign under his belt from the Premier League. In this season he has averaged 3.56 yellows per match, around the average number, and gives 20.5 fouls per match, again, around average.
However, recent matches have shown that Hooper is not afraid to give the cards out. His last match was the Leeds 2-2 Newcastle at the weekend, which saw 3 penalties, 6 yellows, and a red card. Before that Hooper’s yellow count was reading 6, 4, 6, 4, 4 and then it was the 1st of April in the Man City v Liverpool match since he last failed to cross the over 3.5 card barrier.
Given that the EFL Championship Playoff Bible research demonstrated a genuine rise of cards given out in second legs to over 5.5 per match, this seems like a strong start to the Luton vs Sunderland Bet Builder tips.
This wager formed part of the first leg bet builder and cruised in easily with Adebayo committing four fouls across the 90+ minutes.
On this basis, it is really bizarre that the price for this line hasn’t changed at all. The four fouls in the first leg proved that the Luton forward wants to dominate physically and sees the opportunity to do that against the makeshift back-line that Sunderland are having to use. It may be the case that Adebayo might go a little over the top with his efforts, knowing that Luton are in a sticky spot in the tie.
Adebayo’s average now is 2.15 fouls per 90 and is Luton’s biggest fouler. He is favourite in this market, but the price still looks to be decent value and should be added into the bet builder tips.
Knowing Tony Mowbray he will realise that Sunderland would be foolish to simply sit on their lead and hope that they can keep Luton out. In the Burnley away match referenced above, Sunderland continued to offer a threat on the counter-attack.
Pierre Ekwah has gradually established himself as a pretty important player in this Sunderland side. He is technically accomplished on the ball, but, importantly, especially in the midst of their injury crisis, he is also a tall player.
This makes him especially useful in both boxes for the Black Cats. He won 6 aerial duels on Saturday, so he has the ability to win the ball in the air if Sunderland win a corner, but his two efforts on goal came from outside the box.
His two shots on Saturday took his recent record to 6 in his last six starts, and in four of those matches, he didn’t complete the 90 minutes. His average for the season is now 1.21 shots per 90, and it would be expected that Ekwah will play the full match here given his improvement and development within the side.
The bookmakers are still slightly underestimating him by looking at his full season, rather than realising his current form and position in the team.
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