It’s testament to how high the Seagulls fly these days that a Brighton defeat in the Premier League comes as something of a shock. So a 0-4 shellacking really is a rarity – especially when it comes at the hands of Luton Town.
This was the Hatters’ finest hour since they returned to the top-flight, with hat-trick hero Elijah Adebayo telling Match of the Day that ‘you dream of nights like this.’
According to many pundits, Luton’s campaign was set to be more of a nightmare – but here they are with a genuine chance of avoiding the drop back to the Championship.
If they can, it would be one of the most remarkable stories in Premier League history.
Grinding It Out
It should be noted that Luton are still amongst the favourites to go down – the football odds for today make them a 4/7 chance alongside Sheffield United (1/100) and Burnley (1/10), with Everton (10/3) considered to be the next side most in peril.
But those odds have lengthened since the start of the season, with the Hatters doing what all promoted teams need to do – at the very least, make yourself hard to beat.
A draw with Liverpool has been backed by one-goal defeats to the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham. That highlights the fighting spirit of this Luton side, as well as the organisational skill of their head coach, Rob Edwards.
August 2023: Brighton 4-1 Luton
January 2024: Luton 4-0 Brighton
Progress 🧡 pic.twitter.com/nmjOR4vFFA
— Luton Town FC (@LutonTown) January 30, 2024
The idea is that by being difficult to beat, you have a platform to go on and defeat teams that are perhaps not as strong defensively – the Hatters’ hammering of Brighton adding to victories over Newcastle, Crystal Palace and the similarly-blighted Everton.
All of which means that Luton sit outside the bottom three at the start of February, with a game against Sheffield United to come and winnable ties versus Palace and Nottingham Forest too.
By the middle of March, the picture could look even brighter at Kenilworth Road.
Three is the Magic Number
Of course, if you are to avoid relegation from the EPL then you need at least three teams to be worse than you.
With all due respect, Sheffield United and Burnley fit the bill, although there’s a feeling that Sean Dyche’s savvy will be enough to secure points for Everton – assuming they aren’t taken away again by the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR) panel.
It has been suggested that the Toffees are facing another points deduction for their alleged financial irregularities, which would plunge them even further into the relegation mire – almost irrespective of Luton’s on-field improvements.
Everton referred to an independent commission – again – for another breach of @premierleague PSR. Everton mounting a strong defence. They argue they’ve already been punished for 75% of the period covered by the new referral. They believe this is double jeopardy and have told the…
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 15, 2024
As of February 2, five Premier League sides have scored fewer goals than Luton, four have shipped more times and a whole quintet has a weaker goal difference.
Take a dive into some deeper stats and you’ll find again that there’s at least a trio of teams worse off than Edwards’ men when it comes to big chances created, touches in the opposition box and goalkeeper saves per match, to name just three.
What was mission impossible at the start of the season has been upgraded to mission improbable. But as we’ve learned, it wouldn’t be that surprising in the slightest if Luton retain their top-flight status come May.