It's a return to the FA Cup this weekend and a return of the TV cameras as Marco Silva's Everton travel down from Merseyside for this Fourth Round tie at The Den.
Aside from a lacklustre cup campaign last season, Millwall have always had a romantic connection with the FA Cup and it is a competition that still retains some magic in the home stands in Zampa Road. Big victories against Arsenal and Chelsea in the mid-90's were followed by an FA Cup Final in 2004 and later a semi-final appearance in 2013. Neil Harris also experienced some of this fairy-tale early in his managerial career when his side beat AFC Bournemouth, Watford and then-Premier League Champions, Leicester City in consecutive rounds in the 2016-17 season. Everton also have their own love affair with the cup, appearing in thirteen finals in their history, winning the historic trophy in five of these games.
Due to the majority of Everton's existence being in the top flight of English Football, there have only been twelve meetings between the two, with half of these being in cup competitions. The Toffees ever so slightly edge the head-to-head with five wins to Millwall's four, but with the Blue's struggling for consistency and Neil Harris looking for a catalyst to spark life into a uninspiring season so far, could an upset be on the cards?
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 1-1 Everton, Saturday 7th January 2006 – Millwall looked to create a shock when a Marvin Williams strike in the 39th minute put Dave Tuttle's Millwall in the lead at The Den, but Leon Osman popped up and found the back of the net for the Toffees in the 79th minute and took this tie to a replay. Tuttle's young and inexperienced side battled and put in a determined performance to keep David Moyes' side at bay and the Premier League team were left wondering how a squad featuring Duncan Ferguson, James Beattie, Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville and the returning ex-Lion Tim Cahill were unable to finish the game off.
Ben Thompson, Fred Onyedinma and new loan signing Ben Marshall will miss this game after featuring for Portsmouth, Wycombe Wanderers and Norwich City respectively in earlier rounds of the competition. The injury issues for Neil Harris have mounted and Tom Bradshaw and Conor McLaughlin are out of this tie, Ben Amos is still recovering from a hand issue that he picked up in training and Tom Elliott is also on the recovery table with the shoulder dislocation he received at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Phil Jagielka is the only player who will miss the Fourth Round tie with injury and Leighton Baines is set to make his 40th FA Cup career appearance if selected to face the Lions.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Millwall's recent improvement in form and results has been no coincidence and in line with the resurgence in quality from Jed Wallace on the right wing. On his day, the wide man is an absolute joy to watch and one of the Lions' most dangerous players. With a driving attacking run, a wealth of skill and power and swimming in a pool of confidence after his goal against Middlesbrough last week, Wallace always steps up to the big occasions and will be a constant threat to the Everton back-line.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week's 'Who are ya?' we sit down with The Toffee Blues - an Everton Fansite, Podcast and Youtube channel. This week we ask the Blues fans how they feel about Everton's Premier League season so far, what they make of Marco Silva and who does Tim Cahill really prefer out of the two....
1. You are currently sitting comfortably in 11th place in the Premier League although the season has been a bit hot and cold. How do you think the season has gone so far?
The season as you’ve said it already has been a bit hot and cold. Myself and a good majority of other Evertonians are seeing this season as a transition season which it is, but there’s always that small few that just aren’t happy.
2. When Marco Silva was appointed, the announcement was met with an element of fanfare, although now there have been recent whispers his job may be at risk. Why doesn’t it seem to be clicking with Silva at present?
A lot of individual errors have cost the team points and a lot of goals this season. Don’t get me wrong sometimes Silva is getting it wrong but so do most managers. I think with once he has a chance to get rid of the players he doesn’t want and get a squad full of his players that he is happy with that will be when we see the real Marco Silva’s Everton.
3. Millwall and Everton have only faced each other twelve times and half of these fixtures have been in cup competitions. How did the fans take the draw?
I think most of the fans are up for it, obviously with our form of late majority of fans aren’t thinking it will be an easy game. A lot were looking forward to the trip down to The Den and the lucky few that have got tickets are all buzzing to be going down.
4. This may be an FA Cup game, but Silva will want to progress and put in a positive performance. Can you see much squad rotation for this one?
I can’t see a massive rotation to be honest, in our previous game against Lincoln City it was a pretty full strength squad and we should of done better against Lincoln with it really. Silva mentioned something in his press conference about Pickford as he was asked about his form and he somewhat hinted that he could play Maarten Stekelenburg, which I don’t think any Everton fan would be filled with much confidence if Stek was in goal on Saturday.
5. Which player(s) do the fans need to look out for?
Obviously you have Richarlison who if he plays he’s got lightning fast pace and loads of skill on the ball. However he could be played upfront which he has been over the past few months and it’s not ideal for Richarlison really as he is then up against 2 massive centre backs by himself. I would say keep eye on Bernard though another player with loads of pace, loads of skill and a killer eye for a pass.
6. Which fan base loves Tim Cahill more?
Ooooo now that’s a tough one haha. Obviously both sets of fans have their own memories of Tim. Truly a lovely fella, who embraces any club he’s at. He’s definitely an Everton icon, some would say legend. I grew up with Tim Cahill at Everton and along with Leighton Baines are my 2 favourite Everton players. Glad to hear that he is coming over to watch the match.
7. What do you think the score will be?
I’m hoping Everton’s squad have more fight in them than Millwall’s at the minute, but with the way our squad is sometimes you just never know. I will say 2-1 Everton. Nevertheless I hope it’s an enjoyable game and a successful remain of the season for Millwall in their fight for staying in the Championship.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-1 EVERTON
Everton may be the Premier League side and favourites for this tie against the Lions, but the 33 goals they have conceded so far in the English top flight shows they are susceptible to their opposition's attack. The fact Millwall have not won in their last two games would normally alarm Neil Harris, but the more spirited display against Middlesbrough in the 1-1 away draw and the winning streak the South London side were on before the Blackburn Rovers defeat will fill the manager with confidence that we may just get something from the game. Although I cannot see a home win, I can see this going to a replay.
Come on you Lions.