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Millwall vs Middlesbrough Preview

December 15, 2017

Written by:

 

 

15:00, Saturday 16th December, The Den

 

Millwall welcome Garry Monk's Middlesbrough for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.  That season Boro did the double over The Lions, but Neil Harris will be expecting a big performance from his players, especially with a win and draw against Sheffield United and Aston Villa in Millwall's last two games.

 

Although there are a number of places between the sides, this game has the potential to be wide open.  Middlesbrough have been victorious in four of their last five league matches at The Den, but Monk only has 5 victories in 21 away games in 2017 as manager of both Leeds and Boro.

 

Middlesbrough have lost three of the last five games and although Millwall have only lost one of the last five, three of these results have been draws.  Millwall have performed well against teams in the top half of the table, but Middlesbrough would like to buck this trend.

 

 

LAST TIME OUT

 

 

Aston Villa 0-0 MILLWALL - Millwall went to Villa Park and produced an outstanding performance, with many saying Millwall were unlucky not to get all three points.  Neil Harris said after the game, "We were creative going forward and I think we are at a stage now where I can be a little bit critical, saying 'we want more'."  Ryan Tunnicliffe performed a Man of the Match type performance and is showing signs of the player that Neil Harris was excited about when he signed.

 

 

MIDDLESBROUGH 2-0 Ipswich Town - Goals from Martin Braithwaite and Patrick Bamford secured the three points against the Tractor boys, with the victory meaning Boro leapfrogged Ipswich into 8th.  This was Bamford's first goal of the season and he will be hoping to build on this and repay the faith the Boro fans have put into him.

 

 

LINE-UP:

 

 

MILLWALL

 

(4-4-2): Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Saville, Tunicliffe, O'Brien; Morison, Gregory

 

Archer could be back from illness and although Dave Martin had a great game against Villa, he will likely return to the bench.  Williams is back in training and could make an appearance from the bench, but I cannot see Harris shaking up the Saville/Tunnicliffe partnership just yet.

 

MIDDLESBROUGH

 

(4-2-3-1): Randolph; Christie, Gibson, Ayala, Fabio; Leadbitter, Howson; Downing, Braithwaite, Bamford, Assombalonga

 

Boro have no new injury worries and will look to get the ball up to Assombalonga and Bamford quickly.  Although older and not as quick as he used to be, Stewart Downing will be a threat.

 

 

 

KEY BATTLE: SHAUN HUTCHINSON (MILLWALL) VS BRITT ASSOMBALONGA (BORO)

 

 

Britt Assombalonga, quite simply, is a goal machine.  An excellent goal return at Championship level and knows where the back of the net is.  With a great strike rate for Boro and his former side Nottingham Forest, Hutchinson will have his hands full.  But if there's one player the fans will have faith to give Assombalonga a bad day, it's Hutch.

 

 

 

TALKING POINTS:

 

 

 

Patrick Bamford's lack of goals

 

Patrick Bamford was a revelation in his first spell at the Riverside, scoring well into double figures when on loan from Chelsea in the 2014-2015 season and scooped the Championship Player of the Year award.  Since his return, Bamford's goals have dried up and if he does score on Saturday, this will be the first time he has scored in back-to-back games since April 2015.

 

 

Good form, but needs to be better

 

The Lions are not in bad form, but need to turn some of these draws to victories.  When playing the supposedly 'bigger' sides, Millwall always step up when it matters and the South Londoners will need a confident display from Steve Morison and Lee Gregory to challenge for the three points.

 

 

 

PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-0 MIDDLESBROUGH

 

 

Although Millwall are the underdogs in this game, I feel Boro's inconsistency and away form will be their undoing.  Just like Patrick Bamford, Steve Morison is due a goal and when is a better time to get it then after when you've just signed a contract extension?

 

 

 

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