After a long and very eventful international break, it’s a return to the EFL Championship as Millwall make the short trip across London to face Thomas Frank’s Brentford FC. At the time of writing, there have been a few names suggested for the South London hot seat after Neil Harris’ recent departure, but the situation has still not been fully resolved so Adam Barrett remains in caretaker charge of the Lions.
Brentford go into this game on the back of an away defeat against Nottingham Forest and will be looking to record their first victory at Griffin Park since the 3-0 win against Derby County. Millwall arrive in West London quietly confident after beating high-flying Leeds United and will be looking to extend their recent unbeaten run.
The league head-to-heads between the two are very tight, with Brentford just edging the victory count with 23 to Millwall’s 20 and 21 draws. The Lions have not been victorious at Griffin Park since a 4-1 Boxing Day win in 2006, so Barrett will be eager to stop this winless run.
Haven't we met before?...
Brentford 1-4 Millwall, Tuesday 26th December 2006 – A strong and dominating Millwall side saw the Zampa Road outfit take advantage of some defensive mishaps and bring misery on Brentford’s Christmas period. Poul Hubertz pounced on a mistake in the opening minute and the second half was barely an hour old when Hubertz doubled his tally and then set up Paul Robinson for Millwall’s third. Kevin O’Connor pulled one back for the home side, but Darren Byfield’s 23rd minute penalty finished the game and secured the points.
A knee injury continues to keep out Sergi Canos for the home side and Nikos Karelis is still working his way back to fitness for the Bees.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding continues to be out for the Lions and although the treatment room had got quieter with Jiri Skalak returning to full training, his place on the physio’s table has now been taken by Ryan Leonard who will be out for a number of weeks after coming off against Leeds United.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
There were plenty of players who caught the eye for the fans after the most recent victory at The Den before the break, but the one that all eyes have been on is Jed Wallace. No-one has ever questioned the determination and desire the wide man possesses and there have been times when he has been the stand-out performer in a disappointing squad, but his most recent display at The Den saw Wallace have a new lease of life. Seemingly possessing more energy, confidence and purpose, the midfielder was unplayable against a team at the top of the table and the Millwall fans will be hoping for similar in this one.
WHO ARE YA?
For this weeks 'Who are ya?' we sit down with Trevor Inns from Griffin Park Grapevine, original, old-school football forum for Brentford fans. This week we ask Trevor why he thinks the start has been so slow for the Bees, can they climb up the table, who Millwall need to look out for and what he thinks the score will be.
1. It’s been a slow start for the Bees so far in this campaign and only three wins from their opening 11 games, what has been the reason for this?
Obviously it would be easy to blame the loss of star striker Neal Maupay and star midfielder Romaine Sawyers in the summer transfer window. Adding to that we had the highest turnover of players (in terms of minutes played last season) of the entire division. So we are still condensing into a team that understands one another for 90 minutes. Saying that, the stats show that we have been unlucky. In the Justice League we are in the top 4 and I would expect us to make progress in that direction as the team settles.
2. You have only let in a respectable nine goals in the Championship at the moment, however you have only found the back of the net nine times too. Why has their been the goal drought?
Last season goals were being scored at both ends for fun. We’ve tightened up in the defence with the additional of Janson, so much so that we have recently transitioned from 5 at the back to 4. The addition of more defensively minded midfield players has also assisted in the goals against column. A side-effect of this is that we haven’t been creating so many clear-cut chances up-front as we have been lacking the offensive qualities of Sawyers. However the story goes that now we have the defence side settled, and the rest of the team settling, we can improve going forwards. That certainly seems to be the case as Norgaard has shown real improvement in the last couple of outings.
3. Brentford have been a team who have been there or thereabouts in the last few seasons and are always an outside bet for promotion, do you think there’ll be a surge and see you rise the table towards the top six?
It’s the hope that gets you. There’s no reason why not. As I said above, we are playing the quality of football to get there. It’s a matter of when do we ‘click’ and if we can remain injury free.
4. Brentford vs. Millwall games have historically been exciting and close games, how do the Brentford fans see this fixture?
I’m not really sure that this is a fixture that Bees supporters look for first when the fixtures come out. Especially with the two other West London clubs in the division. I might be controversial here, and perhaps out of step with some Brentford fans, but it’s not a ‘must have’ fixture for us and there is plenty Millwall Flu going around. Having said that, most all BFC fans respect Millwall as being having a fan base of genuine football supporters that care passionately about their club and that is in the heart of its community.
5. Tell us more about your site, the Griffin Park Grapevine?
It’s the original, old-school football forum for fans to argue with one another about the merits of players, ground moves, seat colours and other interests of the day. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth now, a re-boot is planned in the coming months.
6. Which player do Millwall need to look for?
As long as you don’t kick his shins to pieces then Benrahma (Algerian international) is going to prove a handful for you. As long as he turns up in the mood to play and you don’t upset him by doubling-up on him. Others will be Norgaard (Danish international) and perhaps Mbeumo (French international) too who will probably play instead of Canos who is out for the season following a horrible knee injury in the last match. Expect Dasilva (England international and product of Arsenal’s academy) to come on later too - a real beast going forwards.
7. What do you think the score will be?
PREDICTION: BRENTFORD 0-1 MILLWALL
Griffin Park has always been a tough place to go for any team, and Millwall in particular have not done well there, but somehow I can see this being turned on its head. The Lions will put on a strong performance for any new manager who comes in and will be trying their hardest to prove why they should be part of the new gaffer’s plans, so I can see Barrett securing his second win as Millwall manager.
Come on you Lions.