With only a few days until the international break, Neil Harris takes his side up to the City Ground to face off with his former club, Nottingham Forest. The two time European Cup winners will be looking to build on their good form so far and will be confident coming up against a side who are winless in their last six games in all competitions.
Aitor Karanka will be looking for all three points in this fixture, as other results elsewhere going their way could see the Reds leap up the table into the play-off places just before their crunch game with Middlesbrough this weekend. The Lions' form has been unrecognisable compared to last season and Neil Harris will want to see a more 'Millwall' type performance from his team. Anything but victory could see the South London side cut further adrift from the rest of the pack, so defeat is quite simply not an option.
Haven't we met before?...
Nottm Forest 1-0 Millwall, 4th August 2017 – Millwall were far and away the more dominant side between the two, but the recently promoted League One side were punished for not taking their chances when an unstoppable strike from Barrie McKay on his debut saw the Tricky Trees victorious. Aiden O'Brien and Lee Gregory had two great chances in the first half and after Steve Morison's effort rattled the woodwork, the away fans were soon feeling that our first game in the Championship would end in heartache. The travelling support thought the game was all square when Morison found the back of the net, but a foul on Jordan Smith by Lee Gregory saw the goal chalked off and Forest victorious.
After seeing red against Stoke City last week, Diogo Goncalves is still banned and will sit out this fixture. Lewis Grabban in particular has been highlighted as a threat from Neil Harris, but Matty Cash is another who poses a challenge for the Millwall back-line and will be looking to add to his four goals already this season.
Shaun Hutchinson remains on the sidelines with knee injury and Jed Wallace will be suspended for this game after picking up his fifth yellow card in the defeat against Sheffield United last weekend. Jiri Skalak or Shane Ferguson will be looking to fill the void by Wallace and will be pushing for a start, and although Ben Amos conceded three in the defeat to the Blades, he should retain his place in goal in front of Jordan Archer.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
The former Millwall striker is deadly at this level and already has four goals to his name already in his opening ten games. Although there is an argument whether Grabban can do it at the highest level, he most certainly knows where the back of the net is and was a stand-out player in both his loan spells at Sunderland and Aston Villa last season. The former AFC Bournemouth man always has a tendency to perform well against the Lions and finds his way onto the score sheet, so Jake Cooper and the Milwall back-line will have to be at their absolute best to keep him quiet.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’ we speak with the Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Club, Nottingham Forest USA and Rich Ferraro of the Forest Ramble Podcast. This week we ask what the guys think of the start of the season so far, how will Aitor Karanka deal with defensive frailties and what they think the score will be...
1. Nottingham Forest were one of the teams to look out for this season and currently sit comfortably in 11th place with 15 points. Are you happy with the start of the campaign so far?
RF: Yes - the aim is to get promotion, or at least the play-offs, but fans, management and club hierarchy have all shown great patience so far. It takes time to get an entirely new squad to gel, but since the international break Forest have looked like a different beast - comfortable with style of play, confident in what they can do, and assured of everyone's role in the team. I am confident we will be further up the table in a matter of weeks.
NFUSA: We have lost only once so far this campaign, and have see tremendous fight in each game, something we haven’t had in the past few years. I’m happy with the start, and feel as though we are beginning to gel.
NFSC: I think most Forest fans are fairly happy with the way the team are progressing this season. It always felt like it would be an inconsistent start to the season with so many new players coming into the club over the summer.
2. You have scored 15 goals so far but have leaked 13 in the opening 10 fixtures. Can you see these defensive frailties affecting the season long term or will Aitor Karanka stabilise the back line?
NFSC: Once again, the high turnover of players over the summer coupled with some injuries to key players has not helped us at the back, but we do now seem to have a settled back 4 and are looking stronger defensively than we did in the first few games of the season.
RF: I think the defence has already stabilised to a degree. Danny Fox has gone from being a much-maligned left-back to a rugged centre-half, and Michael Hefele has brought in leadership and organisation, as well as good character (the kind of player who winds up the opposition). We are also now settled at full-back, where Saidy Janko looks classy and Jack Robinson improves every week. Just as importantly, Karanka seems to have settled on the defensive midfield combo of Jack Colback and Adlene Guedioura, which is crucial in offering the defence support and a good out-ball.
NFUSA: We have basically an entirely new squad, and Karanka has been trying various back lines. We lost a promising defender in Byram, and brought in Janka. I believe he has found his best back four, and defensive midfielder pair.
3. The fixture last year between the two sides was a close affair and Forest arguably were lucky to get the three points. Can you see this fixture being any different?
NFUSA: I expect a similar, hard fought game. We were lucky to get the result we did last year. And, while Millwall haven’t had the best start, everyone knows how competitive they can be, and I expect a physical battle.
RF: Millwall will always be a threat - your style of play and collective can-do attitude make you a strong team. However, on ability alone, I expect Forest's team to be better than Millwall; the match against Rotherham a couple of weeks ago was a war of attrition, and Forest's guile and persistence eventually led to a late winner for Forest.
NFSC: Millwall were very unlucky to leave the City Ground without at least a point last season. No games against Millwall are easy, but if we can continue the hard working performances of our previous 3 home games we should just about edge it. Saying that, predicting games in the Championship is never easy!
4. Lewis Grabban was your big name signing in the summer and has 4 goals in his 10 games so far, how will the striker do against his former club in your opinion?
NFSC: It's not been an easy start for Lewis at Forest, as he settles into a lone striker role with 3 midfielders behind him that rotate regularly. He has also had the pressure of being the only fit first team striker for a number of weeks. There is no doubt of his quality though, so you would imagine his form will only improve as the starting 11 settles.
NFUSA: Grabban has been finding the mark the last couple of games. He has actually missed 2 penalties this year, so he could easily have 6 goals. He is smart in space, holds up the ball well, and links play. He and Murphy have both been playing well, whomever starts.
RF: Grabban has done ok but we haven't seen the best of him. I am confident he will score twenty goals this season, all he needs are some chances in front of goal. It is important to note that Joao Carvalho, our marquee signing, is getting better as well - playing in the number ten role, he might not do much for eighty minutes but is capable of playing a devastating pass; his understanding with Grabbs improves each week.
5. Which players do Millwall need to look out for?
RF: The danger men will probably be Carvalho and Ben Osborn - the latter is a Marmite figure amongst Reds fans, but he has been involved in three out of the last four goals we have scored. Joe Lolley is also capable of changing a match with one cross or shot.
NFSC: Joao Cavalho arrived from Benfica over the summer for a club record fee and has undoubted talent. As his understanding with his teammates grows he will be a vital part of the team if we are to push up the table.
NFUSA: Joe Lolley is such a creative player. He’s one to look out for - and our ever reliable Ben Osborn, who, should he be involved, will be playing in his 200th game - and he’s only 24!
6. What do you think the score will be?
NFUSA: 2-1 Forest!
NFSC: I rarely like to predict Forest results as they hardly ever materialise, but if I'm pushed I will go for a hard fought 2-1 home win.
RF: As it is a home match, I have to go for a Forest win - perhaps a scrappy 2-1.
PREDICTION: NOTTM FOREST 1-1 MILLWALL
The City Ground will be a tough place to go and Forest are playing some great football at the moment, so I can unfortunately see Millwall's run of no victories continuing. With that said, Neil Harris has been very vocal about what he expects from his side, has asked his players to step up and show some leadership and will not back away from his morals or his style of play that has served him so well over the past few seasons. We may not win up at Nottingham, but I can see a score draw and plenty of positives to take.
Come on you Lions.