A solitary point separates Luton Town and Stoke City as the Sky Bet Championship table begins to take shape.
Epitomising the fine margins that define battle at the top, who will come out on top this weekend when the Hatters come face-to-face with the Potters?
📅 Match details
Getting November underway, kick-off is 15:00 Kenilworth Road, the home of the Hatters, on Saturday 5 November.
Official appointments include Jonathan Moss as referee, Timothy Wood and Bhupinder Gill as assistant referees, with Robert Madley standing in as fourth official.
👔 At the helm
Luton Town boss Nathan Jones is no stranger to the Stoke City faithful, having managed the Potters between January and November 2019.
In his first spell at Kenilworth Road, the Welshman added a promotion with Luton to his CV, taking the Hatters up from the Sky Bet League Two in 2017/18, as the Club placed second, qualifying for automatic promotion.
The 48-year-old, who boasts the highest EFL points per game ratio of any Hatters boss, made his return in May 2020, six months after departing Stoke, to oversee a remarkable survival.
In the dugout for the visitors, former Northern Ireland head coach Michael O'Neill is credited with masterminding the national team’s Euro 2016 campaign; marking the first time the Green and White Army reached a major tournament in three decades.
The former midfielder succeeded Jones at the helm, tasked with transforming Stoke’s fortunes. And the Potters, who propped up the Championship standings when O’Neill was enlisted, finished the 2019/20 season in 15th.
🔑 Key man
Hatters attacker Harry Cornick has already surpassed last season’s goal tally, with the striker adding his seventh strike of the season in a midweek win over Middlesbrough.
Last season, the 26-year-old was found wanting in the face of goal, managing just one strike in 40 League outings. However, he made sure he got off on the front foot this season, getting off the mark on the opening day against Peterborough United, and the striker spoke of his “pure relief” of getting the first goal early in an exclusive interview with the EFL earlier this week.
Four assists and four goals has established Potters forward Jacob Brown as a mainstay in Michael O’Neill’s Potters side.
On the back of his call up to the Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifiers, the former Barnsley man will be hoping to combine with Stoke’s Steven Fletcher to bolster his statistics further this weekend.
📈 Form guide
Both Luton and Stoke kicked off November with midweek wins over Boro and Blackpool respectively. The Hatters, who are unbeaten on home soil since August, secured maximum points on Tuesday evening, with Sonny Bradley, Elijah Adebayo and Cornick on target in a 3-1 triumph.
Stoke, meanwhile, returned to winning ways against Blackpool, away at Bloomfield Road. Without a win in four and suffering three straight defeats in October, Steven Fletcher’s strike was the difference in the slender 1-0 victory over the Tangerines.
Three points divide fourth to 10th place in the Championship standings, with Luton occupying eighth place, whilst Stoke sit just inside the top six, but will the tables turn this weekend?
|The last five|
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