Nottingham Forest was the odds-on favorite for the drop from the Premier League last season. All the oddsmakers were backing Steve Cooper’s men for the drop with prices ranging at -125 for the newly promoted side to make the plunge straight back to the Championship.
The club signed over 20 players to bolster their squad, which made life extremely difficult for Cooper to find the right balance, especially in the early stages of the campaign. But Forest performed well under pressure and avoided relegation whereas Southampton, Leeds United, and Leicester City succumbed to the drop to the second tier.
Now Luton Town will be hoping that they can follow in the footsteps of Forest, after securing their promotion to the Premier League with a remarkable run in the Championship last term.
The Hatters have not massively strengthened their squad and have been fairly frugal with their budget so looking at the football fixtures betting odds for the campaign it’s fairly certain they’ll be underdogs in almost every game this term as was the case in their opener against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Rob Edwards and his team face an uphill challenge, although the Hatters have been written off before and have thrived.
Luton was a surprise package under Nathan Jones in the 2021/22 season following his return from an ill-fated spell at Stoke City. He ushered the Hatters into the playoffs, where they fell narrowly short against Huddersfield Town. Jones was then swept away again in the early stages of the following campaign to Southampton and was replaced by Edwards.
The former Watford manager was outstanding and maintained the high standards at Kenilworth Road. He used unheralded players such as Tom Lockyer, Carlton Morris, and Jordan Clark to lead a charge into third place before overcoming Sunderland and then Coventry City in the playoffs to secure their place in the Premier League.
Luton’s surge was built on team spirit and an uncompromising style of play, particularly at Kenilworth Road. But, will it be enough to maintain their Premier League status beyond one season or at least make them competitive?
The fear for Luton will be to embarrass themselves in the Premier League. Derby currently holds the record for the lowest points tally in Premier League history mustering only 11 in the 2007/08 campaign.
There have been suggestions, fairly or unfairly, that the Hatters could challenge that record. Luton are rightful contenders for the drop, and it will be a major achievement if Edwards could steer them to safety. Very few of their players have Premier League experience and even the players that do have not had a great record in the top flight.
The Hatters were impressive on home soil and used their long-ball tactics to great effect to win promotion, using the dimensions and the cramped space of Kenilworth Road to get on top of their opponents. Premier League defenses may not be so easily intimidated and the Hatters will have to get possession first.
Edwards and his team could take heart from the lesson of Stoke City, who made a fortress of their home following their promotion into the top flight in 2008 using Rory Delap’s long throw to great effect. Styles have moved on drastically in the 15 years since, so Edwards and his team will have a harder challenge.
Forest did blaze a trail by defying the odds to remain in the Premier League, but the circumstances between themselves and the Hatters could not be more different. Luton are going to have to forge their own path to maintain their own top-flight status.