Match: Millwall v Leeds United
Date: 16 September 2017
Time: 15.00 BST, 10.00 EDT
Venue: The Den, London
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
Streaming: LUTV outside of the UK and Ireland.
All-time Record: Leeds United v Millwall 15W 4D 15L
Millwall are back in the Championship this season after spending two seasons down in League One. The last time that Leeds played Millwall was back in 2015, in a 1-0 victory at Elland Road. And while going to South London to play Millwall isn’t as intimidating as it was during the dark days of hooliganism, it’s still not a great place to visit for away fans.
Leeds have opened up some of the fan areas at Elland Road to host a “Beamback” for Leeds fans who haven’t made the trip to London, so drop on by the ground and don’t blow up your computer with a dodgy stream if you’re in the UK.
We profiled Millwall’s return to the Championship, and pretty much gave the newcomers little to no chance to grab any good results from Leeds, and nothing has convinced us otherwise. The Lions sit on six points after seven matches, with one win, a 4-0 drubbing of Norwich City, so far this campaign.
Millwall looks to be without a few key players, including Lee Gregory, who got a red card against Queens Park Rangers and will be out for the next three matches, and former Leeds player Tom Elliot is doubtful after being out injured against QPR on Tuesday.
As for Leeds, don’t expect a lot of changes in the side that is currently top of the table and is unbeaten in all competitions so far this season. Felix Wiedwald has perhaps his busiest match at keeper for Leeds against Birmingham City. He had a fairly decent match, making some key saves down the stretch in the second half, he was beaten in near the end of the first half and it took a spectacular goal-line clearance from Luke Ayling to keep the clean sheet streak alive.
Speaking of Ayling, he is sure to start at right back, with both Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper starting at central defence. Vurnon Anita will likely start again at left back, although there is a good chance that Gaetano Berardi could start instead after it appears that he is close to full fitness after coming on in the second half against Birmingham City. I would be remiss not to note that Leeds has yet to allow a goal when Jansson is playing so far this season.
The central midfield pair of Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips will likely again get the nod in London. While Ronaldo Vieira must wonder what exactly he has to do get into a match, the play of both O’Kane and Phillips as a pair has removed most of the doubt that fans had once it became apparent that the two of them were first choice in the centre of the park.
Samuel Saiz should once again get the nod at the number 10, attacking midfielder spot. He has not only dislodged Pablo Hernandez as the starter at that position, right now he is Leeds leading scorer with six goals in all competitions. If he’s not the first name on the teamsheet, he’s got to be the second after Pontus Jansson. Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski are both likely to start on the wings, with Kemar Roofe possibly getting a chance to start for either one of them. Roofe has been a breakout player so far this season, but the play of Alioski and the dead ball delivery of Hernandez might keep him out of the starting XI. Stuart Dallas might also get a nod to start one of the next couple matches, as he was tipped to get more minutes by Thomas Christiansen after Dallas scored a goal against Birmingham to finish off the visitors at Elland Road this past Tuesday.
Up top, Pierre-Michel Lasogga has been an absolute revelation at striker in his first two matches at Leeds. He scored twice against Burton Albion, and assisted on another, and then provided the assist for Saiz’s match winner against Birmingahm. The only way he doesn’t start is if his baby comes or is due to come during the match. If he’s unable to go, look for Roofe to start as the lone striker. Either way, this might be a good chance for someone like Jay-Roy Grot or fellow newcomer Pawel Cibicki to get some time in the first team as well.
Millwall is only an intimidating match because of the reputation of the fans, which they have more than earned over the years, but at this point in the season, they should not be feared on the pitch. Leeds has had difficult road matches already this season, traveling to Sunderland and to Nottingham Forest, so while the prospect of a “Leeds- Millwall match” might bring back the ghosts of 1980s style hooliganism, that’s not likely to have any bearing on the performance on the pitch.
Leeds 2-0 over Millwall. Millwall will be lucky to avoid the drop this season, and while a trip to South London is never easy, this is as good a time as any to visit Millwall with Gregory serving a three match ban for a red card against QPR. Millwall’s attack shouldn’t really strike any fear in the hearts of the Leeds defenders. Saiz should run the defenders ragged once again, and look for Lasogga to pick up another goal along with Saiz.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Anita; Phillips, O’Kane; Alioski, Saiz, Hernandez; Lasogga.
Millwall: (4-4-2) Archer; McLaughlin, Webster, Hutchinson, Meredith; Wallace, Williams, Saville, Ferguson; Morison, O’Brien.