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Chelsea v Luton preview: Hiding to nothing or can Luton take advantage of Chelsea's injury issues?

Chelsea will be seeking a first win of the season against a Luton side competing in only their second ever Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.

The Hatters' grand return to the big league ended in a dispiriting 4-1 defeat at Brighton and they were denied the chance to get that out of their system when their second game was postponed.

A two-week break has given Rob Edwards and his staff the chance to assess what type of Chelsea side they will be coming up against at Stamford Bridge – and it's doubtful if even Chelsea fans know quite what lies in wait for Luton.

WhatChelsea v Luton
WhereStamford Bridge, London
When20:00, Friday 25th August, 2023
How to watchSky Sports Main Event & Premier League
OddsChelsea 1/5, Draw 6/1, Luton 12/1

Chelsea need to bounce back

Mauricio Pochettino would have loved a smooth ride and a flying start to life as Chelsea boss, but Blues fans could have told him the days of smooth rides and flying starts are long gone.

Generally approved as the club's new manager, Pochettino has set about ejecting dead wood from the dressing room while replenishing the stocks, and there is a feel good mood around the Bridge this summer that wasn't there at any stage of last term.

But a smooth ride? It's quickly dawned on the Argentine that the Chelsea renovation is a project with no timescale, however after two games without a win he will be desperate to register their first three points of the season on Friday night.

Chelsea have been an open book in two games – a very open book. Lively going forward but a bag of nerves at the back, the evidence of their 1-1 draw with Liverpool and the 3-1 loss at West Ham is that the next few weeks, at least while Pochettino finds a magic formula, is not going to be dull.

Is Edwards fearing the worst after opening day dismantling?

No one probably ever thought Luton's inaugural Premier League journey was going to be dull.

Declining an invitation (if one was even on offer) to splash the cash, Edwards has basically brought a side that limped through the Championship play-offs into the most competitive league in world football and few can be surprised that they are 1/3 to be relegated.

It would be folly to suggest after just one game those odds look justified, but the ease with which Brighton crushed them 4-1 two weeks ago ought to have set alarm bells ringing.

The caveat, of course, is that Brighton are a good side, and not the type of team the Hatters need to be getting points off if they are to survive.

But Albion fired off an astonishing 27 shots during that match, turning on the party pieces against a team who looked blinded by the headlights.

Because Kenilworth Road is currently being improved to Premier League standard, Luton's second game – at home to Burnley – was postponed giving Edwards and his team a fortnight to mull over what needs addressing and coming up with a masterplan to keep the Blues at bay.

Hatters' hopes lifted by injury issues at the Bridge

It's hard to imagine that Chelsea, given the players they have signed, might actually be short of bodies but they could be light in attack on Friday night.

Christopher Nkunku faces a spell on the sidelines, while Carney Chukwuemeka, who scored their only goal against West Ham, is also absent.

Recently appointed captain, Reece James, picked up a hamstring injury against Liverpool and is set to be missing for "a few weeks" according to Pochettino, his quality will be a huge loss to the London club.

It means that the 52 year old is going to be calling upon the likes of Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, Mason Burstow and maybe Armando Broja, who appears to be fit.

These are not rich pickings in terms of goal scoring, so Tom Lockyer and his defensive colleagues may take some confidence in that.

Luton must iron out errors to stand a chance

One of the more notable aspects of Luton's defeat at Brighton was the number of errors, mistakes that would have perhaps gone unpunished at Rotherham, Blackpool or Wigan but didn't at the Amex, and won't at Stamford Bridge either.

Edwards doesn't have enormous reserves of talent to bring in and his gameplan will have to be to contain and see what they can achieve on the counter. They saw less than 30 percent of the ball at Brighton and can expect a similar ratio in London on Friday evening.

To that end, given the likely mistakes and teething problems, this looks to have goals written all over it, and quite possibly at both ends.

Chelsea and both teams to score at 15/8 has its merits, while someone like Conor Gallagher over 0.5 shots on target at 10/11 or Raheem Sterling over 2.5 shots at 4/6 make appeal.

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