Coventry City vs Luton Town
It’s the most valuable match in world football – and when Coventry City and Luton Town meet at Wembley on Saturday in the 2023 EFL Play-Off Final…they know the outcome could change their worlds.
Burnley stormed to the Championship title followed by Sheffield United and there is one more promotion place to fill by either the Sky Blues or the Hatters. Both teams come into the game in solid form. Mark Robins pushed Coventry on to a late run into the top six with a seven match unbeaten run, while Rob Edwards’ Luton Town, consistent throughout the campaign, briefly threatened Sheffield United before settling into third place.
The EFL Play-Off Final betting odds make Luton the favourites to win promotion, at a price of 1.76, with Coventry at 2.11; there’s very little in it and the winner takes all clash looks set to be a nail-biter.
Route to Wembley
Luton spent most of the campaign in the top six and built a reputation as one of the best organised, most difficult teams to beat in the competition. And the Hatters deservedly made it through to the final when they overturned a 2-1 deficit to beat Sunderland with a superb 2-0 win in the second leg at Kenilworth Road. Gabriel Osho bundled the ball home on ten minutes to level the tie and the home fans roared their team on to victory as Tom Lockyear headed home the winner.
Coventry made the play-offs on the very last day of the campaign, but they were one of the form sides for much of the season after making a dreadful start. They drew 1-1 with Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough to make the top six and then faced them again in the play-offs. After playing out a goalless draw in the first leg, Coventry struck in the second leg thanks to Gustavo Hamer’s beautiful shot, curled into the top corner.
Rob vs Robins
Former Wolves centre back Rob Edwards made his name as a manager at Forest Green Rovers, leading the club to the League One for the first time in its history and he was named ‘League Two manager of the Season’ in his debut campaign as a head coach. That attracted the attention of Watford, newly relegated from the Premier League and they tempted him to join the Hornets last summer. Maybe Edwards hadn’t looked at the club’s approach to management stability as they had potted 17 head coaches over the past decade, otherwise he wouldn’t have been surprised to be sacked after ten games.
Watford’s loss was the Hatters gain as Edwards then guided Luton to third place, watching their local rivals sack two more managers and finish 11th. It would be hilarious for Luton fans if their manager leads them to the Premier League.
In contrast, former Norwich City striker Mark Robins has been manager of Coventry since 2017 and has since guided them from the fourth to the second tier of English football; and now he has one more step to take to immortalise himself at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Gyokeres vs Morris
Each team has a hit man bang in form with Coventry’s Viktor Gyokeres and Luton’s Carlton Morris the second and third top scorers in the Championship this season, with 21 and 20 goals. Gyokeres has attracted attention from Premier League clubs already and would cost in the region of £25m if the Sky Blues fail to get promoted. He’s strong and quick with bags of skill and he could be the man to win this blockbuster match if he gets the chance. He was named the Championship Player of the Month twice this season and Gyokeres is definitely one to watch.
Luton picked up Morris last summer and he’s adapted brilliantly in Edwards’ system, starting strongly with four goals in four games and winning the Player of the Month for September. He’s not as quick as Gyokeres but he’s just as strong and can hold the ball up well and, of course, he knows where the goal is.
Both teams have played in the top flight before. In fact Coventry won the FA Cup in 1987, beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2, and then they were relegated in 2001 after 34 consecutive years in the top flight. Luton were last in the Premier League in 1992 and were in the Conference, the fifth tier of English football, as recently as 2014
Both meetings this season ended in a draw, 2-2 at Kenilworth Road when both Morris and Gyokeres were on target, and 1-1 in Coventry in February.
Luton finished third and ten points ahead of Coventry, who made a late charge into the play-offs and, at SBOTOP odds of 2.34 to win the Hatters have the edge, with Coventry priced at 2.77.
While the relegation battle in the Premier League is shredding plenty of nerves, with so much at stake I expect the EFL Play-Off Final highlights to be tense and cagey rather than expansive and free-flowing… but it will be impossible to take your eyes off it.
A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:
⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)
⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)
⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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