Is it a derby? Is it a rivalry? Is it the red half of South London desperate to finally end the 23 year unbeaten run that the home side has over them, or is it a game that Bermondsey secretly revels in and have had this marked in the calendar since the fixtures were announced? Whatever it is, this weekend sees the Addicks make the short journey from SE7 to SE1 to face Millwall.
At the start of the season, both sides had club legends in charge and were favourites for the drop. Lee Bowyer's side clearly had not read the script and exploded out of the traps with a good start, whereas Millwall's start to the race was a bit more uneasy. Since then, there has been a managerial change with Gary Rowett's recent arrival at The Den, and the new boss will be happy to get back to winning ways after a disappointing defeat away at Reading last weekend.
With all the media hype, we don't need to tell you that Millwall have the upper hand going into this one and Charlton are desperate to finally end their winless streak. This one has the potential to be as explosive as the recent bonfire night celebrations and anything can happen at Zampa Road.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 4-0 Charlton Athletic, Saturday 13th March 2010 – Both sides were comfortably in the play-off places and were in touching distance of the automatic places going into this one. Darren Ward opened the scoring for the Lions before the now famous Christian Dailly's own goal doubled the lead for Millwall halfway through the second half. Two more goals from Steve Morison confirmed the win for Kenny Jackett's side and the home fans left Zampa Road in a state of ecstasy.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding continues to be out for the Lions, as does Ryan Leonard who is also still recovering after coming off with an injury before the recent international break. Tom Elliott is also fighting his way back to full fitness, but will not feature in this game.
Charlton have a number of injury concerns, but none as important as star man, Lyle Taylor, who is still recovering from a knee injury and will not be chanced in this derby fixture.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
It's been a few seasons now where Millwall last had a real solid goalkeeper between the sticks and aside from only one or two moments at the start of the campaign, the on-loan Ipswich Town shot stopper has proved his worth, has quickly become a fan's favourite and at numerous times kept the Lions in important games. A commanding presence who instills confidence in his team mates, a player who has shown his class in the opening third of the 2019/20 season and a contender for the Player of the Year award already, you can all but guarantee a clean sheet if Bart is on his game on Saturday afternoon.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week's 'Who Are Ya?' we speak with the SE7 Charlton Podcast, a regular podcast who talk about all things Charlton Athletic. This week, we ask the team what this game means to those at The Valley, how they think Charlton's season back in the Championship is going so far and who Millwall need to look out for.
1. So it’s the South London Derby this weekend and The Den is a sell out! How is this one seen in SE7?
It is definitely one that we circled in the calendar when the fixtures are announced. Millwall are not only rivals but a bit of a bogey team for us so double the reason for wanting to get one over our neighbours.
2. It’s been a great start to the season for Charlton, considering they were fancied to struggle in this campaign. How do you think the season has gone?
It’s hard to deny we are a bit surprised just how well we started. Bowyer, Jackson and Gallen have consistently brought in the right players for Charlton and everything just clicks on the pitch. There have been moments where we look like we could beat anyone in the league and we’ve been really entertained with the style of football on show. Anything other than relegation would have been a good season if you asked me at the start of the campaign but now our sights have to be a bit higher.
3. Tell us more about your podcast, what can we expect if we tune in to your show?
We are just a group of season ticket holders with a thing or two to say about the Addicks. We aren’t journalists or professionals, just the voice of your average fan at The Valley, with some big opinions. If we say things that you don’t agree with we love it when you phone in to let us know, we love a debate. We broadcast live from LoveSport radio every Thursday from 9pm, tune in if you want to get the view from the stands.
4. Although Millwall v Charlton is a derby, neither side really consider each other as massive rivals. Why do you think this is?
From the Charlton point of view our recent history with Crystal Palace has made that rivalry more of a focus. Our ground share and exile from The Valley shifted our focus from Millwall to Palace who are on the receiving end of the majority of our chants. That’s not to say Millwall isn’t a big game for us! Such a short distance between us always will always create a rivalry and I’m looking forward to a great derby match.
5. Which players do Millwall need to look out for?
Charlton have a set of strong players but the way we play as a whole is what really should worry Millwall. We defend like warriors and move forwards with great pace. One player who may stand out at the weekend would be Chelsea loanee Connor Gallagher, his skill and strength, not to mention his eye for a spectacular goal, will constantly be a pain for not only the Millwall defence but even some attackers who may not realise he is very capable in his defensive duties.
6. What do you think the score will be?
It has been a long time since Charlton last beat Millwall (Lee Bowyer scored for Charlton last time we did!) but over the last two years Charlton have been breaking from our bad luck spells. We ended Portsmouth and Luton’s longest unbeaten streaks and started performing in front of the sky cameras. We are very strong this year and as long as our young team isn’t intimidated by the intimidating Den atmosphere Charlton should come away 2-0 winners.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-0 CHARLTON AHTLETIC
This is a big game regardless of what side of the South London divide you sit on, and with a stuttering few weeks for Millwall and Charlton, both sides will want to leave The Den with three points to get their campaigns back on track. The away side will be doing everything they can to make the short trip back home a happy one, but I can see the Lions just nicking the win.
Come on you Lions.