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Luton Town vs. Chelsea, Premier League: Preview, team news, how to watch

Bidding farewell to 2023

Luton Town v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

I’ve been Luton once. Right after university, which is more years ago than I care to specify, I spent a summer backpacking around Europe. We had a rail pass and no money and it was glorious. Towards the end, I decided to take a short flight from Paris to London. RyanAir was dirt cheap — literal handful of Euros: how bad could it be, I figured — and they flew to an airport that had “London” in the name.

Turns out, London Luton is not ... quite ... in London. Certainly not back then. Pretty sure the bus ride to get back to civilization (i.e. London itself) took longer than the flight itself. Live and learn I guess.

Chelsea haven’t been to Luton for a league match for even longer. It’s been over three decades, just before the Premier League, since we lost 2-0 in late December 1991. They were relegated at the end of that season; we were not and became part of the Prem. We did win there a couple years ago in the FA Cup.

That said, few teams have enjoyed their trips out to the boonies. The Hatters may be in the relegation zone, and play in the tiniest stadium in Premier League history, but they’ve taken points off league-leaders Liverpool and only lost by one goal to Arsenal, Manchester City, and Spurs. Last weekend they beat struggling Newcastle, 1-0.

Meanwhile, we’ve lost four in a row away, our worst streak since the year 2000.

Can’t wait for 2023 to be over.

Date / Time: Saturday, December 30, 2023, 12.30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: Kenilworth Road, Luton
Referee: Paul Tierney (on pitch); Jarred Gillett (VAR)
Forecast: cold, breezy, with a light drizzle

On TV: TNT Sports 1 (UK); USA, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: discovery+ (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)

Sheffield United v Luton Town - Premier League Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Luton Town team news: Issa Kaboré, Reece Burke, and Dan Potts are out with muscle strains while Marvelous Nakamba is set to miss the rest of the season after meniscus surgery, but the obvious headline-maker here is Tom Lockyer.

The club captain had a cardiac arrest during their match against Bournemouth a couple weeks ago — which would be abandoned — and considering that it’s his second heart-related scare in less than a year (he had an atrial fibrillation during the playoff final in May), is surely done with competitive football. Thankfully, Lockyer survived and is recovering at home after getting an ICD (basically an automated defibrillator) fitted.

Luton have won both of their games since, using Lockyer as extra inspiration to motivate themselves — as if the chance to eke out Premier League survival wasn’t enough.

Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Chelsea team news: Chelsea’s main source of inspiration has been mainly this fading idea of restoring the club to where we belong — or at least where we used to be for much of the past two decades and change. So far, our season hasn’t inspired much confidence that we will get (back) there anytime soon.

The one thing we have no shortage of however is injuries, with Mykhailo Mudryk and Roméo Lavia now joining the list (or re-joining in Lavia’s case, immediately after he finally got fit-ish and made his debut). All others who were out remain out, including Enzo Fernández who now is set to miss a third successive match after playing in almost every game since joining at the start of the calendar year.

As we begin the second-half of the 2023-24 season, perhaps we can look forward to better fortunes in 2024. Getting an early start on that wouldn’t hurt, such as matching our 3-0 win against them from the start of this season.

Previously: Our last win at Kenilworth Road, 3-2 in the FA Cup, featured a goal from Saúl (his one and only for us), a winning goal from Romelu Lukaku, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek playing libero-style sweeper. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kenedy were the wing-backs. This was our first match after Roman Abramovich officially put the club up for sale (trying to head off, unsuccessfully, the sanctions that were to come). That this was less than two years ago, in March of 2022, is mind-boggling.

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