Credit: Cardiff City FC

Luton Town preview: How might Lamouchi’s first line-up take shape?

The new gaffer will be hoping that two former Bluebirds avoid coming back to haunt Cardiff City

SABRI Lamouchi’s first test since taking over as Cardiff City boss takes place tonight – away to in-form Luton Town.

He might have one eye on his phone though as the club try to bring in some much-needed reinforcements before this evening’s 11pm transfer window deadline.

After only a few days out on the Vale’s training pitches, the 51-year-old is unlikely to have been able to totally implement “the system, the rigour and the discipline” that he described as his main focus after joining the club on Friday.

Sabri Lamouchi might have one eye on his phone with the transfer deadline approaching tonight. Credit: Cardiff City

And, as he well knows, life in the Championship comes at you fast as the games roll around with tonight no different as the Bluebirds travel to seventh-placed Luton.

The Cardiffian puts itself in the manager’s hot seat to take a look ahead to tonight’s game.

The line-up

It is always a difficult task predicting a manager’s line-up – never mind his first – but to do so we can look back to Sabri Lamouchi’s time at Nottingham Forest to take some inspiration.

While at the City Ground he normally deployed a low block, which made his side difficult to break down, with this sometimes culminating in a 4-1-4-1 formation or more often his favoured 4-2-3-1.

With Cardiff City’s precarious position in the league and lack of firepower, it doesn’t seem likely that Lamouchi will deviate from this approach and it could be a back-to-basics job for the Frenchman’s first game as he looks to instil some much-needed confidence in a Cardiff side seemingly devoid of it at the moment.

So if he adopts such an approach against in-form Luton tonight, how might it look?

If we were to assume that the new manager plays it safe and is more concerned about nullifying the main goal threats of Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo in Luton’s usual 3-5-2 system, then he could opt for the 4-1-4-1.

Ryan Wintle would provide additional cover for the back four when City are out of possession – replicating Ben Watson’s role during Lamouchi’s Forest tenure – with Ralls and Rinomhota sat in front to hoping to disrupt the passing flow of Luton’s midfield and get the ball out to the wings on the counter.

Under Lamouchi, could Rubin Colwill finally add consistency to the flashes of brilliance he’s previously shown?

Should Lamouchi decide to be a little more expansive in favour of exploiting the pockets between the home side’s defence and midfield, he could opt for the 4-2-3-1 with Rubin Colwill in his favoured 10 role, where he could do the most damage.

In both systems there will be a reliance on the wide-men to provide the spark on the counter, as well as defensive support, and for this reason Lamouchi might wish to use Callum O’Dowda in his natural – and more effective – position as a left winger, which could mean a return for Joel Bagan at left back.

It is then a toss-up on the other wing between Jadon Philogene, Sheyi Ojo and Gavin Whyte, all of whom will be keen to impress the new gaffer.  

Based on recent performances it might well be Philogene who gets the nod. He doesn’t set the world alight, but the Aston Villa loanee has put in a couple of decent displays, bagging a goal and an assist over the course of his previous three starts.

He will be hoping to add to these numbers as he looks to provide as much support to whoever occupies the position up top as he does to his defenders behind him.

At Forest, the lone-striker deployed was often Lewis Grabban with the team’s progression into the final third normally relying on him to bring the likes of Joe Lolley and former Bluebird Sammy Ameobi into play from the wings.

Based on Kion Etete’s recent performances, and especially last time out against Millwall, he doesn’t appear ready to be carrying such an important weight as the team’s focal point.

Instead, Lamouchi may opt for Championship experience with forward Callum Robinson picking up the mantle in a more central role than he has been used to so far this season.

The opposition

The good news for Cardiff’s terrible away form is that Luton Town have a home record to match.

The Hatters’ tally is among the worst in the league, coming in at 20th overall in points gained, having won just three games and drawn seven in 13 games so far this season. So if there’s a place for a potentially rejuvenated Cardiff side to pick up a point or three away from home, its Kenilworth Road.

Luton’s Carlton Morris will be hoping to add to his tally this evening. Credit: Luton Town

The bad news is that top scorer Carlton Morris is likely to return from the calf strain which put him out of the recent FA Cup and league ties with Wigan Athletic.

He has contributed 11 goals and five assists in 26 games so far this season.

Alongside his in-form strike partner Elijah Adebayo, the pair have formed a pretty formidable partnership, with the latter hoping to continue his current purple patch and score his fifth goal on the bounce tonight.

There is also the prospect of two former Bluebirds returning to haunt their old side this evening.

Pacey wing-back Alfie Doughty made nine appearances for Cardiff after joining in January last year, while Cody Drameh could be set to make his debut for Luton.

The right back won the hearts of City fans while on loan from Leeds last season, winning both of the club’s player and young player of the year awards.

He was linked with a return to the Welsh capital but it failed to materialise as he joined The Hatters on loan from Leeds last week to replace Southampton-bound James Bree.

The Bluebirds will be hoping that Drameh avoids replicating his form in a blue shirt in the orange and black of Luton tonight.