June 18, 2024

 

Luton Town’s Rob Edwards reveals how to beat Sheffield United and picks out key Blades players

The Hatters boss has offered a tactical insight that other Premier League managers may well find useful

Rob Edwards has revealed the secret to Luton Town’s victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in March, during a tactical masterclass that may alert other Premier League managers. It may also give Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom plenty of food for thought for when the two teams face each other again in the coming season.

The Hatters were a tough nut for United to crack last season, taking four points from their two meetings as both sides were promoted. However, it’s the 1-0 win at Bramall Lane courtesy of Carlton Morris’s second-half goal that saw Edwards come out on top of the tactical battle.

 

WELCOME TO LUTON TOWN, CARLTON MORRIS! - YouTube

In a revealing demonstration of his tactics, Edwards also pinpointed the players he felt were a key threat for the home side and it will come as no surprise to learn Luton were keen to stop Anel Ahmedhodzic down the right-hand side, prevent Ollie Norwood from doing what he does best, Sander Berge, and also try to keep under wraps as much as possible the threat that Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye pose together in a forward partnership that he felt was key to the second-place finish.

Speaking to the Coaches Voice, Edwards explained: “It was getting towards the business end of the season and we are on a decent run ourselves. Both teams are right up there in the promotion race and going up to Sheffield United when they were in the form that they were in, it was a huge, huge game for both teams, especially for us.

In a revealing demonstration of his tactics, Edwards also pinpointed the players he felt were a key threat for the home side and it will come as no surprise to learn Luton were keen to stop Anel Ahmedhodzic down the right-hand side, prevent Ollie Norwood from doing what he does best, Sander Berge, and also try to keep under wraps as much as possible the threat that Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye pose together in a forward partnership that he felt was key to the second-place finish.

 

WELCOME TO LUTON TOWN, CARLTON MORRIS! - YouTube

“Both offer different threats but are very strong players, particularly Ndiaye, because he can be elusive, he’s strong, he can drop into pockets of space, turn and drive the team up the pitch and can take three players out of the game on his own. There was a little bit of focus on those chain of players through from the back to their front players.

“Out of possession, we looked to try and press aggressively from statics [goal kicks] and almost go man for man. We wanted to press high if we can but you have to recognise Sheffield United’s threats

“We wanted to stop the outside centre backs, but we needed to make sure we stop Norwood as well, which is really, really key. The way we did that, the majority of the time in the first half and we did it well, was to drop one of our strikers, normally Elijah [Adebayo] around Norwood and try to get Carlton Morris more on their middle centre back Egan.

“We would then be showing the pass to the outside centre-back, so if it did go there that would be one of our [midfield] eights cutting off any pass inside to try and make it more predictable of going wing-back to wing-back.

“You make it all compact and then it would stop the switch of play because Carlton Morris would still be around Egan and with the other striker still around Norwood it allowed us to be aggressive still, pressing the outsides of the pitch but keeping our strikers central. Then if we do win the ball back and we nick it then we have strikers who can give us that first pass on transition.

“That was something that worked really well, it didn’t happen all the time but that’s what we tried to do.

“McBurnie and Ndiaye, they handle the ball into the chest, they can flick it on, they can run as well. They pose lots of different threats and that’s why they were where they were in the league. They may not have got on the scoresheet every week but because you have to focus so much on them, that might open up a little bit more space for Berge. Hecky’s teams are really brave.

“For the goal, we really felt we could expose the wider areas and the outside centre backs if we could draw them out and create space in the channels. The passing movement was good and there was a great little triangle.

Elijah does what he does really well in these areas, he’s really brave and really aggressive with his forward run and he took a big risk. We had got in behind with some really good combination play and Carlton was again in the right place at the right time making that run across the near post.

“On a day when there weren’t loads and loads of chances for either side, to get in this position, especially for us away from home was key and it was critical for us then that we scored. That’s how it came together.”

Heckingbottom may well be hoping not too many Premier League managers watch this ahead of the new season, but the Blades boss will no doubt find it beneficial to know how Edwards and co took the three points from Bramall Lane that day.

 

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