We look ahead to Saturday’s 2022-23 Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium with our Coventry vs Luton prediction and stats preview.
Coventry vs Luton: Quick Stats
- Luton Town are tipped to win promotion to the Premier League, with a 39.7% chance of winning the Championship play-off final at 90 minutes (Coventry: 31.5%; draw: 28.8%).
- Should Luton win promotion to the Premier League, it’ll see them equal Wimbledon’s record of going from non-league to the top flight in just nine years.
- Mark Robins could become just the eighth manager in history to win promotion from the fourth, third and second tier with the same club.
Coventry City and Luton Town will battle it out to win promotion to the Premier League at Wembley Stadium in the Championship play-off final on Saturday afternoon. Despite Luton making the play-offs for a second successive season in the league, not many would have expected this matchup in the final at the start of the season.
Both sides have progressed to the top echelons of the Championship despite much adversity over the last decade, with Luton even dropping down to non-league and the fifth tier of football for a period of five years before three promotions over seven seasons took them back to the second tier for 2019-20. They were founding members of the Premier League but were relegated in 1991-92 before getting a chance to kick a ball in the newly founded top flight in England. Now, 31 years later, this is the closest they’ve been to returning to the top division.
Coventry City were a Premier League club between the inaugural 1992-93 season until 2000-01, but their relegation signalled an end to 34 successive seasons as a top-flight club and they haven’t been back since. They dropped as far as the fourth tier in 2017-18, but Mark Robins has led them all the way to this match, with two promotions in three seasons and now in their third campaign in a row as a Championship side.
Should Coventry win this match, Robins would join only seven other managers in winning promotion from the fourth, third and second tier with the same club. The others are David Bowen (Northampton Town), Alan Ashman (Carlisle United), Jimmy Sirrel (Notts County), Graham Taylor (Watford), John Toshack (Swansea City), Dave Bassett (Wimbledon) and Eddie Howe (Bournemouth).
Coventry may have finished the regular season in fifth place, but they spent the fewest days inside the top six of any of the four semi-finalists (17, which was 87 fewer than Luton). Mark Robins’ side will look for inspiration from Nottingham Forest last season, who spent just 35 days in the top six but still won the play-offs – a current record for the fewest days spent in the top six to win promotion from the Championship (since the rebrand in 2004-05) to the Premier League and one which Coventry will break if they succeed in 2022-23.
Luton boss Rob Edwards won the League Two title with Forest Green last season so has already experienced promotion despite this only being his second season as an EFL manager – back-to-back promotions here would increase his stock even higher.
The Hatters were promoted from the National League in 2014 and could reach the Premier League just nine years later. It would be the joint-fastest a team has gone from the fifth tier to the top tier, along with Wimbledon between 1977 and 1986.
Coventry City 1-1 Luton Town: 11 February 2023 (Championship)
Coventry City and Luton played out a 1-1 draw at the Coventry Building Society Arena in February – their second draw of the 2022-23 Championship campaign.
Tom Lockyer opened the scoring after just 38 seconds of the game to put Luton Town ahead. This was the second quickest goal of the 2022-23 Championship season.
Matt Godden replied for Coventry from the penalty spot in first-half injury time after Viktor Gyökeres was fouled by Hatters’ defender Gabriel Osho.
Sky Blues midfielder Josh Wilson-Esbrand was sent off with five minutes remaining following a foul on Fred Onyedinma.
Both sides had drawn 2-2 earlier in the season at Kenilworth Road. Luton’s Carlton Morris scored a brace, with Gyökeres and Gustavo Hamer scoring for Coventry in the September clash.
Overall, ahead of kick-off in this meeting, Luton are unbeaten in their last nine games versus Coventry in all competitions (W4 D5) since a 3-0 home loss in October 2017 in League Two.
Previous Meeting Line-ups:
Coventry City: Ben Wilson, Callum Doyle, Kyle McFadzean, Luke McNally, Josh Wilson-Esbrand, Josh Eccles, Gustavo Hamer, Jamie Allen, Viktor Gyökeres, Matt Godden, Kasey Palmer. Used Subs: Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Jake Bidwell, Tyler Walker.
Luton Town: Ethan Horvath, Tom Lockyer, Reece Burke, Amari’i Bell, Gabriel Osho, Marvelous Nakamba, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark, Alfie Doughty, Carlton Morris, Elijah Adebayo. Used Subs: Fred Onyedinma, Cauley Woodrow, Joseph Taylor.
Coventry have lost just one of their last 19 matches coming into this game (W9 D9), a run which started with a 1-1 draw against Luton. Their only defeat in that time was a 4-0 home loss to Stoke, while they haven’t lost outside of the Midlands since January (1-0 vs. Burnley).
Whilst technically not an away game, Luton’s form away from Kenilworth Road this season will be a positive ahead of this game at Wembley. Only champions Burnley (47) won more points away from home in the Championship in 2022-23 than they did (41), while Vincent Kompany’s side were also the only club to keep more clean sheets overall (21) than the Hatters in the league this season (20).
One area of concern for Luton is their ability to squander leads. No side dropped more points from winning positions than them in the 2022-23 regular season (27), while they also lost the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Sunderland after leading.
However, they come up against a Coventry side who struggle to come from behind. They were the only team in the Championship regular season not to win a game from a losing position, recovering just seven points in the 19 games they trailed in (W0 D7 L12).
Looking at form specific to the play-offs, Coventry City have never lost an EFL play-off match before (W3 D2), winning their only previous final 3-1 against Exeter in 2017-18 (League Two).
This is Luton’s first appearance in a Football League play-off final, with their 2-0 win over Sunderland in the second leg of the semi-final their first victory in an EFL play-off game. They featured in two play-off finals in the non-league, failing to get promoted in either, losing on penalties to AFC Wimbledon in 2011 after a 0-0 draw and losing 2-1 to York City in 2012.
Coventry City: Viktor Gyökeres
It would be harsh to call Coventry a one-man team. There are certainly some talented players in their side other than Gyökeres, but none of those have the ability to tear opposition sides apart like the Swedish forward can.
We’ve analysed his qualities in great detail ahead of the final on Saturday, but with 21 goals this season he’s the major goal threat to Luton at Wembley.
Much of the danger he poses comes from his pace and power, which can be lethal in transition – especially if Coventry’s opponents are behind and looking to get forward to get a much-needed goal. Space in behind a defence is not something you want to give Gyökeres, with the 24-year-old leading the Championship for most shot involvements following ball carries (100: 67 shots, 33 chances created) – a metric that he also led in the division last season as well (83).
Luton Town: Marvelous Nakamba
This is a match that Luton Town will want to control from the off, so having a dominant central midfielder to break up any Coventry possession will be key. Marvelous Nakamba is that player.
The central midfielder – on loan from Aston Villa – didn’t make his debut for Luton until 4 February, but since then, he’s made the most tackles of any Championship player, while only Coventry’s Gus Hamer (170) has regained possession from opponents more often than he has (163). It’ll be Hamer that Luton will need Nakamba to frustrate on Saturday, with the Sky Blues’ nimble creator a huge part of their build-up play.
Coventry vs Luton Prediction
The Opta supercomputer makes Luton Town the favourites to win the 2022-23 Championship play-off final on Saturday, with a 39.7% chance of defeating Coventry. This will be a close game, however, with Coventry’s chance also above 30% (31.5%) and a draw at 90 minutes given a 28.8% chance.
Before a ball was kicked in the Championship play-offs this season, the Opta supercomputer made Luton the favourites to win promotion to the Premier League, with a 30.8% chance of success. Conversely, Coventry were the outsiders, with a 18.6% chance of winning promotion via the play-offs, but they saw off Middlesbrough (second favourites at 28.7%) in the semi-final over two legs.