After the excitement of qualifying for the FA Cup quarter final and drawing Premier League Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den, it’s a return to league action as Millwall travel to Pride Park to face Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
The Rams may not be in either of the domestic cup competitions anymore, but they have excelled in the English second tier and are sitting just outside the play-off places in seventh place on 51 points. Winning two and drawing two of their last four league games, the home side go into this game full of confidence and favourites for the three points. Millwall, in comparison, are in wretched form and have only scored one league goal in their last five Championship fixtures.
League meetings between the two see Millwall just edging their opponents with eighteen wins to Derby’s fourteen. The Lions were victorious in the earlier meeting between the two at the beginning of the season and Neil Harris will be hoping to replicate this result and leave Derbyshire victorious.
Haven't we met before?...
Derby 0-1 Millwall, Satruday 8th March 2014 – There were plenty of chances in this game as the two sides on the opposite ends of the Championship table met at Pride Park. A second half header from on-loan forward, Steve Morison secured the vital victory for the Lions against Steve McLaren’s Derby County. The defeat to Millwall left the home side in third place, five points behind Burnley and Ian Holloway’s side remained in 21st place and two points clear of the bottom three.
Ashley Cole could feature against Millwall from the start after his impressive performance, and goal, in the FA Cup against Brighton and Hove Albion. Jack Marriott and George Evans will be looking to start this game after appearing from the bench in the cup.
Tom Elliott could start after coming off the bench to face his former side AFC Wimbledon. Conor McLaughlin remains out along with long time absentee Tom Bradshaw.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
The Liverpool loanee has been a revelation since joining the Rams at the start of the season and his twelve goals in thirty-four games in all competitions is one of the main reasons why Frank Lampard’s team are in with a shout of a play-off place. Along with his clinical strike rate, Wilson has four assists to his name too and has created a dangerous triumvirate with Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott. The young attacker has rightly been getting praise for the quality of his performances and if he is at his best at Pride Park, it will be a long evening for Millwall’s back line.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’, we speak with our friends at Derby County Blog. This week we ask the team whether or not they think they will make into the Championship top six, why exactly the Rams’ forwards are setting the league alight and whether they can avenge the earlier defeat to the Lions.
1. After a mixed start to the season, the Rams are showing more consistency and are just two points outside the play-offs so far. How has the season been for the fans?
It’s definitely been exciting - frustrating at times (not least last week), but with more plusses than minuses overall. Frank Lampard has been a breath of fresh air since he came in, with ex-Millwall man Jody Morris as his assistant. Lampard has even brought Ashley Cole along for the ride, so it’s certainly been eventful - even a bit surreal, at times.
He is new to management and not every decision he’s made has paid off, but Lampard is clearly an intelligent guy with huge drive to be successful and a great love of the game. I’m sure that financially, there is absolutely no need for him to be working, after the playing career he enjoyed - certainly not in a job as pressurised as this, at any rate - but he has applied himself to the task with real passion and so far, so good.
Highlights of the season have been knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup at Old Trafford, slaying West Brom 4-1 at The Hawthorns and an incredible 4-3 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road. Much less impressive were the early 4-1 humbling at home by Leeds and away defeats to Rotherham and Bolton - the latter loss coming just days after we’d beaten Man United.
2. You are in seventh place at the moment and if you win the game in hand against the others around you then you’ll find yourselves in the top six. Are the play-offs a realistic expectation for the end of the season?
Our form has been consistently play-off pace throughout the season, but never any better than that - so the top two seems like too much of a stretch now, unless we can really put on the afterburners in the coming weeks. But it would be a massive disappointment to everyone if we missed out on the top six, not least Lampard. It’s probably not a universally popular opinion, but I feel a bit relieved that we’ve now been knocked out of the FA Cup, as there’s no doubt that it had become something of a distraction from the greater prize, which is promotion to the Premier League.
3. Frank Lampard has seemed to taken to management well and has been earning plaudits for the football his team are playing, what do the fans make of the former England midfielder?
I think he’s united the fans behind him, as much as that is possible. He has engaged with the match-going crowd, with his post-victory ‘bouncing’ delighting the faithful (while having the added bonus of enraging supporters of certain other clubs, for some reason). He communicates extremely well and has never come across as a Billy Big-Bollocks - which, given his stature in the English game, is to his credit. He is clearly very dedicated and professional and results have been good overall, so he has to go down as a success, so far. Hopefully, he will be with us for a good while yet.
4. Harry Wilson, Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn have twenty-two goals between them in all competitions. What has been the secret to their success?
Wilson has an absolutely sensational left foot and can score from anywhere, whether in open play or from free kicks. The club’s internal goal of the month competition may as well just be renamed “Wilson of the Month”. Marriott is more of an old-school, predatory number nine, who only needs half a chance in the box to pounce and score. Waghorn is more of a bullish, physical presence who can either lead the line or do a job in a wider starting position. If all three are starting tomorrow night, then I would back us to win the game.
5. The earlier meeting between the two saw the Lions just edge it and run out 2-1 winners. How can you see this game going?
It’s no secret that Millwall will be a threat from crosses and set pieces - your centre back Jake Cooper has had more attempts at goal this season than Waghorn or David Nugent - so I can see Millwall nicking a goal at some stage. However, I have to back Derby for this one. Millwall’s away form has not matched their home form and Marriott will hopefully be back from an ankle injury and fit to start, which will make a major difference to our attacking threat. Another plus is that Ashley Cole is in contention to make his first starting appearance for the Rams, having scored and impressed after coming on a half-time sub in the FA Cup at Brighton on Saturday.
6. What do you think the score will be?
PREDICTION: DERBY COUNTY 0-0 MILLWALL
To go to the home of a big team in great form will be a big ask for Neil Harris’ men, but as Chopper has now got his side at the level where they are hard to beat, I can see the away side not conceding in this one. Without a natural striker in the ranks, I cannot see Millwall scoring neither, but I can see this being one of the more entertaining no-score draws.
Come on you Lions.