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Burnley vs Luton Town key battles


Burnley will take on Luton Town at Turf Moor in a Premier League fixture on Friday evening, with both teams bidding to get back to winning ways.

The Clarets were dumped out of the FA Cup by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, while the Hatters were held to a 0-0 draw by Bolton Wanderers at home to earn a third-round replay in more than a week. As far as their league form is concerned, Burnley have lost back-to-back games against Liverpool and Aston Villa respectively, whereas Luton’s two-game winning run was ended by Chelsea in a 3-2 thriller at Kenilworth Road on New Year’s Eve.

With both clubs desperate for points to maintain their top-flight status, here are the key battles that could define the outcome of the game.

#Ross Barkley vs Josh Brownhill

Ross Barkley has arguably been Luton’s best player this season, emerging as a vital cog in Rob Edwards’ midfield following his move to Kenilworth Road on a free transfer back in the summer. In Edwards’ 3-5-2 formation, the Englishman has predominantly occupied left side of a midfield three and tried to run the show with his passing range, close control quick half-turns and dribbling ability.

As Barkley is effective in quick transitions and turnovers due to his ball-carrying and retention combined with his goal threat, Burnley must look to stop him at any cost. The job of nullifying the ex-England international’s threat could fall on the shoulders of Josh Brownhill.

The Burnley skipper, Brownhill is an all-action midfielder who is very energetic, tidy on the ball and gets up and down the pitch well. The 28-year-old is also a tenacious tackler, and Burnley boss Vincent Kompany could task him with staying close to Barkley. On the other hand, Barkley must also fulfil his defensive duties and stop Brownhill from entering the Luton box.

All in all, whoever wins this midfield battle may have a big say in deciding the result of the game.

#Wilson Odobert vs Chiedozie Ogbene

Luca Koleosho’s significant knee injury, suffered in the 1-0 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers, left Vincent Kompany worried. But one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity, and since young Wilson Odobert has started deputising Koleosho on the left flank, he has not looked back.

Signed from French side Troyes for around £10million in the summer, Odobert has injected an element of excitement into a dismal season thus far, with fans feeding off his direct play and ability to make things happen out of nowhere. The French teenager tends to operate wider on the flanks, using his electric pace and close control to take on defenders and drive towards the penalty area.

With three goals and an assist, Odobert will be Burnley’s biggest threat going forward. With Issa Kabore set to head to the AFCON, Chiedozie Ogbene will be expected to operate at right wing-back for the upcoming games. The 26-year-old must stay defensively compact and disciplined while looking to get forward whenever he gets an opportunity. By doing so, he could keep Odobert away from Luton’s box and test his work rate and defensive skills.

#Zeki Amdouni vs Teden Mengi

Zeki Amdouni has been a mainstay in Burnley’s attack, registering three goals and an assist in 19 league games. However, the Swiss striker missed a stoppage-time sitter to help Burnley equalise against Tottenham in the FA Cup third round. He will look to put it behind him quickly and get ready for the crucial encounter against Luton.

As Amdouni is sharp in the box and can finish off chances, Luton’s defence must do everything possible to keep him under wraps if they intend to keep a clean sheet, and the bulk of the responsibility could fall on the shoulders of Teden Mengi.

Mengi has been the Hatters’ best defender, marshalling the troops well and leading U-21 players with the highest percentage of defensive duels won in Europe’s top 5 leagues this campaign. So, this promises to be a top battle between two exciting young players.

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