Liverpool's trip to Luton could be the acid test of title credentials
Liverpool failed to win ANY of their three away matches against promoted sides last season and have only won two of their last ten trips to Luton… how visit to Kenilworth Road could be the acid test of their title credentials
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Liverpool appear to have made themselves a title challenging force once again, as Jurgen Klopp’s side have enjoyed an excellent start to the season.
The Reds are three points off the top of the table and have only lost one game in all competitions, albeit, a controversial one away at Tottenham, after Luis Diaz’s wrongly disallowed goal.
Boosted by their new look midfield, Klopp’s side are remarkably nine points better off than this stage last season, and with their wealth of attacking options including Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, the Reds have a massive chance of being in contention come the business end of the campaign.
They have taken a significant step forward from last season, where they slipped from quadruple hopefuls a year prior, to missing out on the Champions League after a dreadful season by their usual high standards since Klopp took charge.
Their fall from grace was made clear by the fact they failed to win any of their three visits to promoted sides last season, and their trip to Luton in front of what should be an electric Kenilworth Road crowd this weekend, could be the acid test to their title credentials.
Liverpool look like potential title challengers after an excellent start to their 2023-24 season
Jurgen Klopp’s side have only lost once all season – a controversial 2-1 defeat to Tottenham
Liverpool travel to Luton on Sunday, having failed to win any of their three away clashes with promoted sides last season (pictured against Bournemouth in 2023)
Luton fans have had little to celebrate about at home this season, but it promises to be an electric atmosphere at Kenilworth Road on Sunday (pictured at Wembley Stadium in May)
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Liverpool missed out on the top four by four points to Newcastle last season, a painful number for Klopp’s side who picked up just one point on the road in away trips to Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest.
Liverpool’s away results against promoted sides last season
Fulham 2-2 Liverpool
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool
Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool
They twice came from behind to salvage a draw against Fulham, lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest and Salah missed from the penalty spot as they suffered the same scoreline at Bournemouth – despite beating the Cherries 9-0 at home.
The Reds are a different beast compared to last season, brimming with confidence and firing on all cylinders. Klopp will be determined for his side not to get complacent when they visit Luton on Sunday, in what will be the Hatters’ biggest home match since returning to the Premier League.
Kenilworth Road is a stadium like no other in the Premier League, and though Luton have yet to win at home in the league this season, their players and fans will be as fired up as they have been all season, which could make it a potential banana skin for Liverpool.
After all, it’s games like Liverpool at home in the Premier League which Luton have been longing for over the past three decades.
The last time these sides met was 15 years ago in the FA Cup when Luton were a League One side. Since then, they have played as low as the National League as recently as 2014.
Back-to-back promotions in 2018 and 2019 catapulted them from League Two to the Championship, where they played for four seasons before their promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs.
Though the two sides have only faced off in the FA Cup since the turn of the Millennium, Liverpool’s away record at Luton is not a good one.
Liverpool have won just two out of their last ten visits to Luton in all competitions, although, they have not played each other in the league since the 1991-92 season
It is games against sides like Liverpool which Luton fans have been longing for over the past three decades, and which their players will be as fired up as ever to pick up a major scalp
In their last ten trips to Kenilworth Road, the Reds have won just twice, with four victories for Luton and four draws.
Eight of those ten trips came between 1986 and 1991 when Luton were playing top-flight football – with Liverpool only managing to win one of those games despite being regular title challengers and winners at that time.
But even in their two FA Cup trips to Luton in the 2000s, Liverpool struggled at Kenilworth Road.
They came from 3-1 down to beat the Hatters 5-3 in a thrilling tie in 2006 – where Xabi Alonso famously scored from the half-way line. While Liverpool beat Luton 5-0 in an FA Cup replay in 2008 after a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road.
Luton will be fresher for Sunday’s match, having not played since a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa at the weekend, with the Reds beating Bournemouth 2-1 in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
Klopp surprisingly elected to start both Salah and summer signing Dominik Szoboszlai who both have been integral to Liverpool’s success in the early months of the season.
In a hard-fought game, Liverpool also started Cody Gakpo and had to bring on Darwin Nunez, Alexis Mac Allister, Diogo Jota, Ryan Gravenberch and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool were unable to fly home on Wednesday night due to Storm Ciaran, instead having to take the near five hour drive from Bournemouth on a coach, which potentially could have had a knock-on effect for their preparation ahead of the trip to Luton.
Liverpool are nine points better off than this stage last season thanks to their midfield overhaul and a frightening attack line (Ryan Gravenberch pictured has impressed since his arrival)
Liverpool were unable to fly home after their trip to Bournemouth due to Storm Ciaran, instead, having to take a near five hour coach drive home
Liverpool’s last ten trips to Luton
Luton 4-1 Liverpool (League One – Oct 1986)
Luton 0-0 Liverpool (League One – Jan 1987)
Luton 3-0 Liverpool (FA Cup – Jan 1987)
Luton 0-1 Liverpool (League One – Oct 1987)
Luton 1-0 Liverpool (League One – Oct 1988)
Luton 0-0 Liverpool (League One – Aug 1989)
Luton 3-1 Liverpool (League One – Feb 1991)
Luton 0-0 Liverpool (League One – Aug 1991)
Luton 3-5 Liverpool (FA Cup – Jan 2006)
Luton 1-1 Liverpool (FA Cup – Jan 2008)
Luton wins 4, Liverpool wins 2, Draws 4
Liverpool have shown no signs of fatigue this season despite advancing in the Carabao Cup and playing in Europe, something Klopp will hope continues to be the case against a fresher Luton team this weekend.
Despite all this, Liverpool fans understandably will look to Sunday’s fixture expecting three points, and so they should.
Given the level of both sides and their respective starts to the season, it would perhaps be the biggest shock of the campaign if Klopp’s side fail to win.
Liverpool have arguably the strongest attacking depth in the country and Luton will somehow have to find a way to stop the likes of Salah, Nunez, Gakpo and Jota.
In midfield Szoboszlai, Mac Allister and Gravenberch have all settled to life at Anfield quickly, while their defence appears to be getting stronger by the week despite having to come from behind in a number of games so far this season.
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw against Luton the last time they played at Kenilworth Road back in 2008 in the FA Cup
Potential title rivals Tottenham were made to work hard for three points at Luton last month
But it is games like Luton, where they are expected to beat promoted sides, which have cost them dearly in past title battles.
In 2021-22, the Reds finished one point off title winners Man City, and they could look to dropped points in a 3-3 draw against newly promoted Brentford – where they conceded an 82nd minute equaliser – as one of the reasons why they failed to win what would have been a domestic treble.
They also finished two points behind Man City in 2013-14 where they lost 3-1 to Hull City on the road. While in 2008-09, they were held to home draws against Hull and Stoke City when they finished four points off champions Manchester United.
Luton made Tottenham work hard for their 1-0 win last month, even if Ange Postecoglou’s side played with ten men for the second-half.
With Man City, Arsenal and Spurs all enjoying excellent starts to the season, these are the games that Klopp and Liverpool simply can’t afford to be dropping points,
Liverpool’s trip to Luton could be the acid test for Jurgen Klopp’s title aspirations this season
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