15:00, Saturday 3rd February, Madejski Stadium
Millwall's first game after the closing of the transfer window is away at the Madejski Stadium against 18th placed Reading. The Lions travel to the home of Jaap Stam's Royals who have struggled this season, and are only 6 points outside the drop zone despite being beaten finalists in last season's Championship Play-Off final.
Millwall have not won at Reading since 2001, but have the mental advantage after being 2-1 victors over the Royals earlier in the season. A George Saville double secured the points for Millwall, with his second goal being a spectacular volley that is arguably one of the goals of Millwall's season.
Millwall also have taken the albatross of not getting an away win from around our necks, and our Ancient Mariners will be feeling confident going into this game. Even though he won't play, the arrival of Tim Cahill has boosted the club massively and there seems to be a real buzz around the football club at the moment.
LAST TIME OUT
Burton Albion 1-3 READING: In a positional sense, the Royals did not move in the table, but this win put a bit more breathing space between the bottom three and the team previously known as the Biscuitmen. Reading took the lead after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson's first goal of the game, and although the Brewers equalised, it was Burton who went on to crumble. A second goal from Bodvarsson was followed by a third by Chris Gunter, and this result left Burton rooted to the foot of the table.
MILLWALL 0-0 Derby County: The arrival of new signing Tim Cahill filled the stadium with hope and optimism for the game against the Rams, but unfortunately Derby did not read Millwall's script. Millwall didn't necessarily played badly, but Derby were a level above the Lions and after 90 minutes the Millwall fans were happy with the draw. Shaun Hutchinson had a man of the match performance in defence, and Neil Harris will be expecting another clean sheet at Reading.
Apparent one time Millwall transfer target, Tommy Elphick, should slot in to a back three that will also have two wing-backs bombing up the wings. Bodvarsson will keep his place, especially after his brace against Burton, and deadline day loan signing Chris Martin should make the starting eleven also.
If Steve Morison is match fit, then the new club captain will go back alongside Lee Gregory in attack in place of Tom Elliott. Other than the Morison change, Harris will stick with the same side that drew with Derby, but the Lions will have to be at their best. Millwall have recruited well in the transfer window, and we have a lot of quality on the bench waiting for their chance.
KEY BATTLE: CHRIS MARTIN (READING) VS. JAKE COOPER (MILLWALL)
Jake Cooper will have his hands full with Chris Martin, who is highly experienced at Championship level. Jake Cooper admitted after the game with Derby that this is one of the first games he looked for at the start of the season. He feels he does not necessarily have a point to prove, however he wants to go back to the Madejski and show that he has become a top Championship defender. Keeping Chris Martin quiet will show just how far he has come since signing at Millwall.
Considering how they finished last season, Reading have surprised many. Not only because they are in the bottom of half of the table, but because there tactics seem very stale. In the earlier fixture at The Den, Reading kept the ball very well, but they did very little well with it. This will play into Millwall's hands perfectly, as the Lions let teams aimlessly pass the ball around and wait to catch them on the counter.
Strength in Depth?
Millwall have recruited well in the window, and although Gregory and Morison are playing well, there are still question marks over the depth in our forward line. Fred is still yet to show his potential, Elliott is very hot and cold and Tim Cahill is not yet fit. If Gregory and Morison are being outplayed by the experienced Elphick, who do we have on the bench that will successfully change the dynamic of the game?
PREDICTION: READING 0-1 MILLWALL
Reading are under pressure and the fans will get on the players back if they concede a goal early. Millwall will let Reading pass the ball around without any intent, and with the form Gregory and Morison are in, they will take advantage of any casual overpassing across the back line.