Thursday, February 29, 2024

Luton preview: Manage the atmosphere

Morning. A very quick blog for you, as we look forward to tonight’s encounter with Luton at Kenilworth Road.

There isn’t much time between Saturday’s game and this one, and in terms of team news, we have to wait and see if Takehiro Tomiyasu will be available having come off late in the win over Wolves. Mikel Arteta says he hopes the Japan international will be an option, but it feels to me like this is the kind of game we could potentially show a bit of caution and make sure he’s ready for Villa at the weekend, for example.

That should mean Ben White coming back in at right-back, which is a very nice deputy when you say it out loud, and we’ll have to wait and see if the manager makes any other changes. It would make sense to me that we might give Gabriel Jesus a rest, he’s played a lot since coming back from his hamstring injury, and if it was Leandro Trossard or Eddie Nketiah up front I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I could see Kai Havertz coming back into the team for this one too, and with a big game at the weekend some rotation feels inevitable.

Tonight will be tricky, not least because of playing away in a small stadium with a crowd that will be well and truly up for it. Arteta says he’s made his players aware of the challenge they’ll face, saying:

They know. We have already warned them, they know what to expect. They know about the atmosphere and they know about the access. They know everything, and especially they have to know about the team that they have to face tomorrow and the difficulties we are going to have to play against them, and as well what the opportunities are for us to win the game.

It’s a potential banana skin, but let’s hope it’s one we can deal with, and three points tonight would extend our lead at the top again with those behind us not playing until tomorrow.

Finally for this morning, I’d just like to say thank you to all of you who listen to the Arsecast, and those who took the time to vote for us in the FSA Awards. We are very proud to have won Club Podcast of the Year at last night’s event, in the face of excellent competition from The Anfield Wrap, Fulhamish, 1912 Exiles, The Square Ball, and Under the Abbey Stand.

It means a lot to be recognised by our listeners, and the wider football community, even if my head is a bit wobbly this morning. To be able to do what we do is a real privilege, not one we take for granted for one second, and and ‘working’ with James, Andrew, Tim and the rest of the crew is just a lot of fun.

Thank you again.

Right. I’m gonna get my arse in gear, get some coffee, and head back to Dublin. Please join us later for live blog coverage of the game, and all the usual bits on Arseblog News after.

Have a good one.

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