PREVIEW: Bournemouth v Luton Town
Hatters head to the Vitality Stadium this weekend
After a play-off defeat halted Bournemouth's aims of making their stay in the Championship the most fleeting of ones last campaign, the Cherries look determined to ensure they don't suffer the same fate this season.
Most at the Vitality Stadium had thought, and probably expected, to have just one term in the second tier, heading back to the Premier League immediately after keeping the majority of their top flight squad in place.
However, under Jason Tindall, who replaced the long-serving Eddie Howe, it just never materialised, as the Cherries couldn't quite break into the top two and then when Jonathan Woodgate took over in February, had to make do with a play-off place.
They looked to be on their way to the final at least, beating Brentford at home and then led 1-0 early on in the second leg.
However, the Cherries were then reduced to 10 men on the half hour when Chris Mepham was sent off, going down 3-1 to lose 3-2 on aggregate.
Eager to learn their lessons, the club's main piece of business in the summer was in the dug-out, appointing Fulham boss Scott Parker to the hot-seat when Woodgate left, with the former Spurs midfielder knowing just how to win promotion to the top flight having done so with the Cottagers in 2020.
There were a few outgoings, most notably top scorer Arnaut Danjuma leaving for Villarreal, while keeper Asmir Begovic headed to Everton, with Diego Rico joining Sociedad and Sam Surridge sold to Stoke as well.
However, they strengthened impressively, Emiliano Marcondes joining from Brentford, with Swansea attacker Jamal Lowe on board, plus Celtic's Ryan Christie and then some real experience in former England international Gary Chill arriving on a free from Crystal Palace.
Although the season remains in its infancy, the Cherries already look like they mean business.
A 5-0 thumping of MK Dons in the Carabao Cup kicked things off, as they then were held by fellow title favourites West Bromwich Albion 2-2 on home soil in their opening league game.
Two away wins at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham, cemented their intentions, although surprise draws with Blackpool and Hull City followed.
With Bournemouth's cup distractions ended, hammered 6-0 at Norwich City, the Cherries' promotion aims began to gain pace, with three successive wins, beating Barnsley (3-0) and QPR (2-1), both at home, also winning 1-0 a Cardiff to sit top of the table, two points clear of nearest rivals Fulham.
The form of striker Dominic Solanke is certainly helping too as after struggling in the Premier League, he is finding the Championship much more to his liking, with six goals already.
Parker believes there are few that can match him in the second tier too, telling the Bournemouth Echo: "I think he’s a top forward, very pleased to have him and grateful he’s in our team really.
“I think he’s a top forward in this division and has got massive attributes. Scored goals last year and he’s on the upward curve really.
“I think he’s a modern-day centre-forward, which is very good.
"I still think there’s loads of areas of his game he needs to work on and tidy up.
“But what he has got, he’s got a work ethic first and foremost. He’s someone that physically is very, very good and is not shy of using that.”
Team news: Luton have had huge injury worries going into the game, with both Fred Onyedinma and Allan Campbell definitely out due to ligament damage.
There are concerns over Sonny Bradley, Danny Hylton, Amari'i Bell, Dan Potts and Admiral Muskwe too, as they all missed last weekend's 3-3 draw with Swansea, with boss Nathan Jones declaring he was 'fearful to train' in the week when another un-named player picked up a knock in training.
For the Cherries, Junior Stanislas (hamstring) and Lewis Cook (knee) are both making progress on their routes from injury back to the first team, but won't be ready for Saturday, but reserve goalkeeper Will Dennis will be available.
Top scorers - Hatters: Elijah Adebayo, Luke Berry (3). Cherries: Dominic Solanke (6).
Milestones: Glen Rea will make his 200th appearance for the Hatters if selected against Bournemouth.
The centre half/defensive midfielder joined on loan initially from Brighton back in March 2016, making the move permanent that summer and has helped Town win promotion from League Two to the Championship, scoring eight goals in that time.
Striker Danny Hylton could reach his 150th appearance for the Hatters too.
The 32-year-old arrived from Oxford United in the summer of 2016 and has scored 59 goals so far.
Man in the middle: Tim Robinson - has had eight games this season, showing 28 yellow cards, including taking the Hatters' 3-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion last month, opting not to send off Baggies keeper Sam Johnston for his collision with midfielder Jordan Clark.
Had Luton three times last term, the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, sending off the visitors Nikolas Ioannou in the first half and then the 2-0 home defeat to Cardiff.
Prior to that, Robinson had officiated Luton six times, with just one win, two draws and three defeats.
Lee Venamore and Michael George are the referee's assistants with James Linington the fourth official.
In charge: Scott Parker - signed for Charlton Athletic as a trainee, heading to Chelsea for £10m in January 2004 was named as the PFA Young Player of the Year.
Sold to Newcastle United for £6.5m in July 2005, joining West Ham for £7m in 2007, winning the supporters player of the year award twice, as he then went to Spurs for £5.5m in August 2011, before heading to Fulham in August 2013.
Eventually hung up his boots in June 2017 after a career spanning almost 500 games, winning 18 England caps too.
Following his retirement, Parker returned to Spurs to coach their U18s in 2018, leaving in July 2018 to become first-team coach at Fulham for Slaviša Jokanović and then Claudio Ranieri.
Took over as caretaker once Ranieri was dismissed in February 2019, as the Cottagers were relegated to the Championship, but was appointed on a two year deal and led the team back to the top flight via the play-offs in 2020.
Was unable to keep the club up though, as Parker left the club on June 28, swiftly appointed head coach at Bournemouth on a three year deal.
Managerial record: Nathan Jones has won the only game he has ever managed against Scott Parker, when in charge of Stoke against Fulham back in October 2019, a 2-0 success at the Bet 365 Stadium.
He also has a 100 per cent record against the Cottagers, with one of his two games as Brighton caretaker manager coming in a 2-0 success at Craven Cottage in December 2014.
Parker has not lost against Luton though, with a 3-2 win in the 2019-20 season as Fulham manager thanks to an Aleksander Mitrovic hat-trick, while then drawing 3-3 at Kenilworth Road.
View from the opposition: Scott Parker talking to the Bournemouth Echo - “I’m expecting a tough game. Last game they’ll probably be bitterly disappointed, 3-0 up (and drawing against Swansea).
“Intense team, aggressive team. I think they’re right up there in terms of goals scored in the division.
“We’re under no illusions what sort of game we’re going to be facing at the weekend, I think we understand that.
"A team that have played different styles, different ways and in terms of shape, we’ll be prepared for that.
"On the flip side of that, we understand that if we bring our best game, while we’ll go into detail on them, we’ll also go into detail on how we can hurt them as well.
“Hopefully we can do that and come out with a result at the weekend.”
One to watch: Dominic Solanke - striker has started the season on fire, with six goals already in nine games to sit joint third in the Championship leading scorers list.
Began his career with Chelsea, having a loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem and then went to Liverpool for an undisclosed fee in May 2017.
Scored once for the Reds in 27 matches, but was prolific for England U21s, as he then was sold to Bournemouth for £17m in January 2019.
Took some 30 games to open his account, that coming in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Luton in January 2020, but a first league goal was even longer in arriving, having to wait until July 2020, with a double as Leicester were beaten 4-1 at the Vitality Stadium.
Has found the Championship a far easier proposition though, netting 15 goals last season and hasn't looked back this term, with six goals so far, including a double in the 2-2 draw with Blackpool.
Friendly faces: Luton attacker Harry Cornick was born in Poole, joining Bournemouth from Christchurch in 2013, making only one FA Cup sub appearance for the Cherries during his four years at the club, that a 5-1 win at Rotherham in June 2015.
Moved to Luton for an undisclosed fee in August 2017 and has now played 178 times for the Hatters, scoring 25 goals, including two this term.
Cherries defender Jack Stacey made 95 appearances and scored five goals for Luton after joining from Reading in June 2017, becoming one of the stars of Town's promotion to the Championship, winning as number of supporters awards.
Headed to Bournemouth in the summer of 2019 for a fee of around £4m and has made 59 appearances for the Cherries, scoring once, although featured just twice so far this term.
Former Luton striker Stuart Douglas is the physiotherapist with Bournemouth.
The attacker came through the ranks at Kenilworth Road, scoring 23 goals in 172 games for the Hatters.
Qualified as a physiotherapist when retiring, with his first job at Woking, before spending seven years at AFC Wimbledon until moving to the Vitality Stadium in October 2020.
Played for both: Trevor Aylott – striker who began his career with Chelsea, spending three years with the Blues before moving to Barnsley and Millwall, arriving at Luton in 1983 as David Pleat shelled out £55,000 for him.
Was part of the side that famously stayed up at Manchester City on the final day of the Division One campaign in 1983, netting eight goals the following season, as he scored 11 in 35 matches before surprisingly joining Crystal Palace in exchange for Vince Hilaire the following term.
Joined Bournemouth in 1986, going on to spend four years at Dean Court, scoring 17 times in 147 appearances, then having spells at Birmingham City, Oxford, Gillingham, Wycombe and ending his career with Bromley.
After retiring from football in the mid-1990s, Aylott worked as a taxi driver in London.
We've got form: Luton started their trips to Bournemouth well, with a 3-2 Division Three South victory back in December 1923.
The Hatters then went eight games without a victory, including a 5-1 defeat, getting back on track when triumphing 2-0 in 1932.
Suffered four straight defeats between 1934-64, before recording back-to-back victories in 1969, adding a draw as well.
Lost seven out of the following eight games, including a 6-3 reverse in Division Two in October 2003, finally ending that sequence when Enoch Showunmi netted the only goal in a League One 1-0 win April 2005.
However, Town went another three without tasting victory, until last season, as they triumphed 1-0.
In total, Luton have won seven, drawn eight and lost 17 of their 32 matches, scoring 43 goals and conceding 63.
Last time out: The Hatters picked up a superb 1-0 win at the Vitality Stadium last season courtesy of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's excellent goal.
The hosts had to play over an hour with 10 men after Jefferson Lerma was dismissed for an alleged elbow on Tom Lockyer, which saw the Town defender substituted.
Luton had the better of the chances though, Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic saving well, until he was beaten by Dewsbury-Hall's curling finish into the bottom corner with 18 minutes to go.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree (Matty Pearson 87), Dan Potts, Tom Lockyer (Kal Naismith 34), Sonny Bradley, Glen Rea, Luke Berry, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Harry Cornick (Jordan Clark 77), James Collins (Danny Hylton 87).
Subs not used: James Shea, George Moncur, Jordan Clark, Kazenga LuaLua, Joe Morrell, Sam Nombe.
Referee: David Webb.