After consecutive defeats to Preston North End and Hull City, it is top of the table Norwich City who are the visitors to face Neil Harris' Millwall at The Den.
After years of mediocrity, the Canaries are flying high and sitting on the top perch of the English second tier. With five wins, one draw and one defeat in their last seven games, the Norfolk find themselves two points clear of Leeds United in third and on course for a return to the Premier League after a three year absence. Millwall find themselves at the other end of the league table and are precariously only four points above the relegation zone in 20th place.
City are the more successful between the two in league meetings, with thirty-one victories compared with Millwall's twenty-six and twenty draws in previous meetings. The Lions' 4-0 victory against Daniel Farke's team last year was Millwall's first league win of the 2017-18 season and Neil Harris will be hoping victory against Norwich will be the catalyst to start a run that will get Millwall out of trouble...
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 2-1 Norwich City, Saturday 6th February 2010 – An early goal in the opening five minutes from Chris Martin put the League One leaders in front, but goals from Tony Craig and second half substitute, Neil Harris saw the Lions secure the victory and remain in play-off contention in fifth place.
Tom Bradshaw and Conor McLaughlin remain the long term absentees for the home team. Mahlon Romeo, who missed the defeat with Hull City due to illness is a doubt for this game, as is defensive utility man Murray Wallace. James Meredith who was missing from the midweek fixture faces a late fitness test and could feature for the Lions at left-back.
Mario Vrancic and Moritz Leitner are back fit for this fixture, but Alex Tettey, Carlton Morris and Louis Thompson are still out for the Canaries.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
With twenty-four goal and seven assists so far this season, Pukki has been an absolute revelation for the league leaders and the fact he was signed on a free transfer just accentuates the bargain fee the Canaries paid for him. The Finnish international’s form in recent weeks has been phenomenal with eight goals in his last seven games and if he on form at The Den, there will be no doubt he will add to this tally.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who Are Ya?’, we are delighted to it back down again with our friend, Di Cunningham from the LGBT+ fan group for Norwich City. This week we ask Di is she brave enough to start dreaming of Premier League football, why she thinks the Canaries have been so ruthless in front of goal and what she thinks the score will be.
1. You are sitting top of the tree and two points clear of champions-elect, Leeds United. Dare to dream?
If we can't dream now - when can we?! Canaries fans are traditional moaners and even now, amid the deep joy of Farkeball there's still the odd 'Get it the ***k forward' or a good old fashioned eye roll at a missed penalty or two or ... five. But virtually every fan will tell you that this is the best time to be a Norwich City Supporter.
Of course the 92 - 93 season was fantastic; finishing 3rd in the table (albeit with a negative goal difference!) and as in this season a good number of games turning over a losing scoreline to a winning one - but although not a star studded side in that inaugural Premier League season, there were some notable names in the team - Mark Robins, Ian Crook, Gary Megson.
Also in the squad that year though and second highest scorer after Robins was home grown youngster Chris Sutton playing his first full season as a senior. Daniel Farke's players were even more unknown to most of us than Sutton was that year and have been just as much of a revelation - Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis are all products of the NCFC academy while imports from the German Leagues: Stiepermann, Zimmerman, Hernandez, Vrancic, Leitner and Trybull, plus Emi Buendia (he's originally from Argentina via La Liga - you'll hear the song I'm sure) and free signing from Brondby Teemu Pukki have gone from under the radar to regular picks in pundits' teams of the week. They play superbly as individuals, exquisitely as a team. There are others, equally talented, that I haven't mentioned so actually promotion seems more of a reality than a dream at the moment.
2. You have been in such impressive form this season and gone from the sleeping giant to the Titan who is screaming for promotion. What has been the secret to your success?
Farke introduced some of the newer European players to the Championship last season and there's no question it took getting used to, riding tackles, building from the back, passing at speed while retaining the ball didn't come without work. And because of injuries and his system he blooded some of the academy youngsters early this season along with Emi, and the trust has paid off. He's also created the sort of team ethic that means that that there are no recriminations from players on the bench - Jordan Rhodes is a great example; team man, high impact sub.
3. 68 goals in 34 games, teams have to score two just to grab a point! Just how good have the forward line been this year?
Pukki has an incredible tally with 24 so far for the season but 16 other players have at least one - anyone and everyone can score (just not pens!).
4. Millwall find themselves in a tricky spot and just outside the bottom three. Are you shocked to see a side who did so well last season struggling like this?
The Championship this year is full of teams with smart managers getting the best from their players in fiercely contested ties - there's hardly been a dull game and there are few points between teams in the table as a result. It's been impressive to see Millwall continue playing an expansive, creative game rather than adopt the negativity that often comes with promotion. It looks like the current bottom two at least are falling away and you're well on the right side of the gap - the game you have v Bolton will be exciting!
5. Tell us more about your Supporters Club, how did it all start and what are you trying to achieve?
Proud Canaries started in 2013 and we wanted to show that there are plenty of LGBT+ fans supporting NCFC home and away and encourage more to come and watch a game which in the past hasn't necessarily made everyone feel welcome. Since we founded the group others have set up at clubs elsewhere - there are over 40 in the UK leagues now including Three Lions Pride; the England fan group who took their rainbow St George flag to the Russia World Cup and also - not far from the New Den - Proud Valiants. It would be great to see a Proud Lions group giving LGBT+ Millwall fans some visibility and reinforcing what we already know; what a diverse and inclusive club you are.
6. Which player(s) do Millwall and the fans need to look out for?
Farke has a rep for not changing a winning team and due to injuries Kenny McLean, who has barely featured the first XI all season, has played in our last two games, providing a delightful assist for Buendia's goal (but missing a pen obv!) v Bolton, and scoring 2 v Bristol City.
7. What do you think the score will be?
We are not doing clean sheets at the moment but frankly who cares if we score enough at the other end. I reckon we'll edge it 1-2 (and miss a penalty!)
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-1 NORWICH CITY
There’s no escaping it, this is going to be a tall ask for Neil Harris’ men and Norwich City will be coming into this game as firm favourites for the win. With a strike force that has defeated some of the best in the division, Millwall may resort to a 4-4-2 formation to try and provide defensive cover to the back four and try to hit the Canaries on the counter attack. There will be goals in this game, but I can see this being a score draw.
Come on you Lions.