This weekend’s game has come early for both Millwall's and Tricky Trees' fans, as Friday night sees Sabri Lamouchi bring his high flying Nottingham Forest to The Den.
Although the away side have struggled for consistency over previous seasons and there was more confusion when club legend Martin O’Neill was sacked by the club after a brief spell in charge, Lamouchi has hit the ground running and his solid and determined style of play sees Forest sitting nicely in fourth place. Similarly, Millwall are showing good signs of progression under Gary Rowett and will go into this one looking to make a push towards the top half of the table, with a belief they can get a positive result from this game.
The league head-to-heads sees the Lions just edging previous meetings, with 23 wins to Forest’s 19 and the spoils shared 20 times. This is a big game for both sides and with these being fiery clashes in the past, this one could go either way.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 2-0 Nottingham Forest, Friday 30th March 2018 – Another Friday night game saw the Lions run out 2-0 victors over their opponents after two first half goals from Shaun Williams and Lee Gregory respectively. The Millwall fans were barely in their seats when Williams opened the scoring in the first 27 seconds of the game with a header from Ben Marshall’s cross, and Lee Gregory got into double figures for the season when his 33rd minute effort was buried into the bottom corner of Pantilimon’s goal. The win saw Millwall go just one point outside the play-offs and left Aitor Karanka’s Forest side stuck in 16th place.
Shane Ferguson, Ryan Leonard and Shaun Hutchinson are currently keeping the Millwall physios busy, but one player who is back in contention to make the squad is Frank Fielding, who returns from his long term injury.
Yuri Ribiero and Samba Sow remain out for this clash and Karl Jenkinson faces a late fitness test, but Ryan Yates is back in contention after his recent ban.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
There have been many questioning whether Shaun Williams still had the legs to be a dominating midfielder at this level, but since the appointment of Gary Rowett, the Irishman is back to his best. Playing some great football and arguably still the best ball player that Millwall have at the club, Williams has shown just how dangerous he is and his goal in last weekend’s game with Birmingham City just shows how much of a threat he can be to the opposition. With an ability to be the play maker and pull all the strings in the middle of the park when he’s on his game, it will be a long night for the Forest midfield if Williams performs at the level we all know he can produce.
WHO ARE YA?
This week, we sit back down with Dan from the North America's branch of the Nottingham Forest Supporters' Club. This week we ask Dan how he thinks the season is going, is he worried with the lack of goals that have been scored, how this game is viewed by Forest fans and what he thinks the score will be.
1. It’s been a great start for Forest at the moment and you are currently sitting in 4th place. How do you think the season is going?
The season is going well overall. There is a feel good factor around the club both on and off the pitch. We have owners who seem to be doing the right things, supporting the local community, putting a good operational framework in place and building a new stand. It's fair to say another managerial change in the summer left us feeling a bit flat once again but the 'unknown' Sabri Lamouchi has won us over. It's easy to get carried away with where we might end up come May but for now we are winning more than we are losing so most fans are happy.
2. Although you are at the top; you only have scored 24 goals in the league. Why are you so goal dry overall at the moment, or are you not bothered as much due to the fact you are winning games?
We set up with a 4-1-4-1 both home and away and for the most part have been happy with 30/40% possession hitting on the counter. Although we have a lot of attacking flair with a number of options on the wings it's been a case of being patient. Most are happy with getting the points.
3. With that said, tell us about the defence who have only let in 14 (joint second best in the division)?
Our defense has been somewhat of a surprise. We had 6 central defenders at the start of the year. Our favored pairing of Worrall and Dawson (most recently Figuerido) wouldn't have been anyone's prediction but Worrall has been a transformed player since his return from a loan spell with Ranger. Matty Cash at right back wasn't considered a right back before the start of the season but with injuries to both our RBs he's been a revelation and will likes keep his place when the others return. Finally Brice Samba in goal has become a fan cult hero. He has saved us points this year and again has come from nowhere. So all in all a strong unit that no one was expecting!
4. Millwall vs Forest is always a tasty one, how are the fans seeing this one?
The move to Friday night has of course annoyed many who would usually have made a day of it in London, however in terms of the actual match, having just been beaten by Neil Harris' Cardiff we are extremely weary of being beaten once again at our own game. Whether warranted or not there is a perception that Cardiff and Millwall will approach us in a similar fashion and that we're yet to prove ourselves against more direct teams.
5. Lewis Grabban is leading the goal scoring with eight goals in all competitions, just how important is the former Millwall man?
Grabban is vitally important. He has been prolific away from home and continues to score goals as he has wherever he's played. With one up front we rely on him heavily, the worry is we only have one other striker in the squad who is far from prolific. Fans are praying that Grabban stays fit and/or we supplement in January with someone of similar pedigree such as Dwight Gayle.
6. Who else do Millwall need to look out for?
We've been playing with 3 attacking midfielders. Broadly 2 wingers and a 'number 10'. These 3 positions could be filled by anyone from Lolley, Silva, Adomah, Ameobi, or Carvalho. Each on their day this season has given 10/10 performances however it's fair to say none of them have done it consistently. With the depth there however, if we are to get a result we will need two of them to have a good game.
7. What do you think the score will be?
We have traditionally struggled against Millwall. In the last few meetings away from home our players haven't looked up for it. However coming off a defeat and seeing how the squad has grown in confidence it would be good to get a win by a single goal however a 1-1 drawer wouldn't be a bad result at all given our history and Millwall's strengths this season.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-1 NOTTM FOREST
With both teams in a good run of form and both being hard to beat, I can't see there being many goals in this game. Forest are excellent defensively, but Millwall always seem to find that extra 5% when they are at home at The Den. The away side may not score many neither, but the Lions are prone to error at the back at times and Millwall may be more exposed on the right hand side of defence without Shaun Hutchinson. A score draw is my prediction tonight!
Come on you Lions.