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Match Preview: Millwall v Leeds United

Never a happy hunting ground for Leeds, can the Whites grab a valuable three points?

Leeds United v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Match: Millwall FC (18th) v Leeds United (2nd)

Date: 5th October 2019

Time: 15.00 BST, 10.00 ET, 07.00 PST.

Venue: The Den, A horrible place, Burmondsey, South-East London, England

Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).

This match is also previewed in our latest podcast, which you should definitely listen to and can be listened to here.

Leeds United travel down to Burmondsey to face Millwall in the hopes of improving their absolutely shocking record in London recently.

Millwall are about to undergo a bit of a transition following the surprising resignation of Neil Harris as manager after over four years in charge (more here) - caretaker charge being taken by former Southend United (among others) centre-back Adam Barrett.

The match will be a real test of Leeds’ defensive work given Millwall’s propensity for smashing balls forward to tall players, and the absence of captain Liam Cooper from the defensive line.

Millwall will likely lead the line with Matt Smith. Leeds fans are very familiar with Smith’s aerial strength and he is well liked around Elland Road following his 14 goals in 48 games for Leeds. His size and ability to attack the ball/win flick-ons will be a test for Ben White, and an incredibly difficult task for Gaetano Berardi who, barring something unforeseen, will deputise for Liam Cooper in defence. Smith has so far managed three goals and two assists in 10 appearances (3 as a sub) this season.

Leeds’ well documented issues defending set-pieces could well be heavily tested by Millwall. The entire team is set up to be strong at attacking set-pieces and they pose a particular threat through their centre-back Jake Cooper. Cooper is particularly great in the air and has caused Leeds lots of problems in previous encounters between the sides.

Millwall’s strengths are pretty much what you would expect given their play over the last few years.

In addition to their obvious strengths - Millwall do not really try and keep hold of the ball, instead choosing to hit long “percentage” balls in to areas looking for knockdowns. This means Leeds are likely to have a lot of the ball even by Leeds standards. Fulham FC broke the Opta record for possession in their 4-0 win over Millwall at Craven Cottage on 21st August. Expect Millwall to fall into a low-block and make themselves hard to break down.

The stats suggest that Millwall like to play the offside trap but are bad at defending against through balls, that would be something for Leeds to target but without the passing ability of Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw it could be difficult for Leeds to get in behind. The space is liable to be out wide so expect Leeds usual recipe of lots of crosses (and probably expect most of them not to be successful).

In addition to Hernandez and Forshaw, Leeds will also be missing Jamie Shackleton through a hamstring injury - and it looks like Marcelo Bielsa is going to pick Stuart Dallas as a central midfielder with Mateusz Klich continuing in the number 10 role. Alternatively, Tyler Roberts could start at 10, with Klich dropping into a deeper midfield role.

Unlike the West Bromwich Albion match, which was a good spectacle for the neutral, I would expect this match to be a lot of Leeds in possession - mostly in deep areas, being patient, looking for openings, with Millwall launching long balls forward. This may be quite an attritional affair to watch.

I am going to go for a 1-1 draw as our record in the capital and particularly against Millwall is poor. What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.