After what seemed like the longest international break in recent memory, it's finally a return to Championship action this weekend as Gary Rowett takes his Millwall side across the border to face Welsh side Swansea City.
Both sides were tipped to struggle this season, but where Millwall have blown hot and cold under their two managers in the 2019/20 campaign, Steve Cooper's Swans are flying high up the league table and currently find themselves in the play-off places in fourth. A win against the Lions and other results going their way would see the Swans back in the automatic promotion places, but Millwall will be eager for a victory of their own to push them up towards the top half of the table.
The league head-to-heads between the two very slightly lean to Millwall's favour, with their 17 wins just overshadowing Swansea's 16 and the points shared on nine occassions. With both teams looking to kick on from the recent break, this will be an entertaining one in South Wales.
Haven't we met before?...
Swansea 1-0 Millwall, Saturday 9th February 2019 – A first half strike from George Byers was enough for Swansea to see off Millwall and secure a league double over Neil Harris' men in the 2018/19 season. The Lions did get into a game that saw the opening 45 minutes dominated by the hosts, but the Swans held on to the three points which saw them climb to 11th and leave Millwall in 20th place.
Sam Surridge will be looking to get back to the squad after returning to full training, but Erwin Mulder, Joe Rodon and Jordan Garrick will all miss this clash as they recover from injury.
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.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Andrew Ayew is a player who although is playing in the second tier of English football, has plenty of higher level experience and along with Swansea City can name West Ham United, Marseille and Fenerbache as former clubs he has represented around Europe. The attacking player has commanded large transfer fees of well over £35,000,000 since his debut in 2006 and can easily add to the six goals he has in 15 games if he is on his game this Saturday.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week's 'Who Are Ya?' we speak with Steven Carroll from the SOS Fanzine. This week we ask Steven what he thinks of the start of the season, is the Swan's defence the key to their good start, is there a chance that the former Premier League team could return to the top flight and what he thins the score will be.
1. A third of the way through the season and you’re up in the top six! It’s been a good start for the Swans, but how do the fans see the season so far?
The general consensus is that we’re overachieving. Everyone is really pleased with our league position, but whether it’ll last is another thing. We’ve been difficult to beat and despite not creating a lot of chances we have been reasonably clinical in front of goal. Those are the two key factors in our league position.
2. You have one of the best defences in the league and have only conceded 16 goals in the 2019/20 campaign, has the form of the defence been key to your good results?
Absolutely, the signing of Freddie Woodman has been key here. Goalkeeper was a big issue last term and thanks to Woodman we’re now far harder to score against. The spine of the defence was good last year but let down by poor displays between the sticks so they are now benefiting from our new arrival.
3. You have had some good wins recently, including the 1-0 home win over rivals Cardiff City, do you think there’s a realistic expectation you’ll be promoted?
Not really, no. I would say if we made the Play-Offs that would be regarded as a good season and a top six finish is now a realistic prospect. But very few if any are expecting automatic promotion in my opinion.
4. Andre Ayew, Borja Baston and Sam Surridge have 13 goals between them this season and been on fire, are you concerned there may be some cheeky bids for them in January?
Possibly Ayew, but not the other two. Ayew is on huge wages so if a good offer was made we’d probably have to look at it. Baston is on the bench right now and is out of contract in the summer so I doubt he’ll go until then. Surridge is on loan so he’s here until the end of the season.
5. Who do Millwall need to look out for?
Ayew is a big threat, along with Bersant Celina. They are probably the main two.
6. What do you think the score will be?
I think we’ll win 2-0.
PREDICTION: SWANSEA CITY 1-1 MILLWALL
Swansea will be a tough nut for Millwall to crack and have one of the best defences in the league, but with Tom Bradshaw eager to find the back of the net after a recent goal drought, I can see the Lions scoring one at the Liberty Stadium. With that said, Gary Rowett still hasn't tightened the back line and with the Welsh side's attacking line in such great form, Bialkowski may have to wait until next week's game with Wigan for his clean sheet.
Come on you Lions.