Luton Town Week 2 thoughts: Norrington Davies stars, Clark pushes on and thoughts on taking chances

  1. Rhys Norrington-Davies settles in well

Luton Town fans were spoiled by the quality of their full backs in the League One title winning season.

Jack Stacey and James Justin were laughably good for the level, providing the Town with two Premier League quality attacking full backs that allowed them to romp through the division.

In the first season in the Championship, however, Luton took a bit of a step back. With Justin and Stacey both leaving, James Bree was, arguably, the only full back for the Town who looked capable of filling the gap they left.

That’s why Rhys Norrington-Davies is looking like a potentially exciting player. The youngster, who is on loan from Sheffield United after impressing at Rochdale and Barrow, has been an ever present this season and put in another great performance against Derby.

Bombing up and down the left flank, Norrington-Davies has proven to be both an effective defensive performer and threatening attacking outlet — as evidenced by his second match winning assist in the course of a week.

In short, Norrington-Davies looks like the real deal. And while it may prove hard for Luton to secure him permanently in the long term, it is great to have another young aggressive attacking left back making a mark at the Kenny.

2. Clark pushes to start

Unlike Norrington-Davies, Jordan Clark has only managed to start one of Luton Town’s four games this season. But he has already had a significant impact on the fortunes of the club this season.

Clark was on the end of both of Norrington-Davies’ crosses this week, tucking home the winner against Derby at the back post and planting an impressive header across the keeper to earn Luton a home tie against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.

This came off the back of a thoroughly impressive opening day cameo against Norwich, where he laid on the winner for James Collins and generally made a nuisance of himself.

So the question facing Nathan Jones is whether or not to bring Clark into his preferred eleven. As it stands, Elliot Lee has edged him out — and laid on a lovely opener for Luke Berry against Derby — with Jones keeping faith with the players who got Luton to this level.

But Clark’s continuing impact does begin to put his teammates under pressure. And with the forward likely to start in the mid week cup tie against Manchester United, he could be ready to break through into the Championship starting eleven in time for the big match at Watford.

3. Making few chances or making great chances?

One of the reasons Luton stayed up last season is that the Hatters took the chances that came their way.

The Town were the third most clinical side in the division in 2019/2020, converting 17.1% of the shots they had over the course of the year.

And it appears as if the Hatters are repeating the feat this season. Although it is early days of the 2020/2021, the side has a chance conversion rate of 16.7% which is, funnily enough, the third best in the division again.

However, Luton have also only registered 18 shots this season — the fourth fewest shots in the division this season so far. Is it possible that they may be over-performing in front of goal compared to what they’re creating?

It’s hard to argue fully against that perspective. After all, Nathan Jones has made a number of comments in his post match press conferences indicating that he does want the side to be creating more opportunities.

But while Luton are creating fewer chances, the quality of them appear to be quite good. For example, the latest expected goals (XG) timeline from the Derby game shows that the Town’s fewer opportunities registered a much higher XG than their opponents including, importantly, in both goals scored.

So while Luton do need to think about improving chance creation a bit further, it’s important that they don’t sacrifice making quality opportunities in pursuit of more shots on goal.

4. Rethinking Luton Town from the outside

Finally, a little note on the perception of Luton Town by those outside of the club. It’s become something of a running joke on Luton Town fan feeds to pick out tweets from fans of rival clubs expressing, shall we call it, bemusement at suffering at the hands of the supposedly lowly Hatters.

And while the #TeamsLikeLuton banter is undoubtedly enormously amusing, I do think it demonstrates that a lot of people outside of the Town don’t fully understand how well the club is run.

While Luton Town definitely have been punching above their weight — especially when it comes to playing squad budget — they’ve been able to because of sustained good management on and off the pitch for most of a decade now.

Long term overperformance is a fact of Luton life and a result of good management

As well as putting together a talented young squad on a shoestring under the stewardship of a young manager that has climbed through the divisions, the Town have also built a top class training ground, are on their way to a new stadium and made friends through fantastic community work off the pitch.

So yes, Luton Town might not be the biggest club in the country. But the club has followed a similar approach to climbing the leagues as Brighton and Bournemouth and that should be respected.

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Occasional musings on football and life. @GeorgeOsborn on Twitter.