The Whites go head-to-head with Millwall tonight as football under the floodlights returns to the Cottage with the first Championship London derby of the season. Millwall have surprised a few people with a very promising 7pts from their first 3 games. The Lions are hard to break down under Neil Harris and last weekend’s 1-0 victory against Sheffield Wednesday with ten men demonstrates that ruggedness. Meanwhile, Fulham are up and running with back-to-back wins and surprisingly the second-best defensive record so far despite concerns about our lack of strengthening over the summer. It promises to be a tight affair.
- In 45 meetings, Fulham have won 19, lost 14 and drawn 12.
- Fulham have won 5 of the last 8 meetings.
- They have also kept 4 clean sheets in the past 7 meetings.
- The Whites have only suffered defeat to Millwall once in the new millennium.
- Last league game was match 22 of our 23-game unbeaten run.
- The 5 most recent meetings have come within the last 5 years. Before that the last match was back in 1999
Last 8 Meetings
- 25/09/18 – Millwall 1-3 Fulham (League Cup)
- 20/04/18 – Millwall 0-3 Fulham
- 25/11/17 – Fulham 1-0 Millwall
- 21/02/15 – Millwall 0-0 Fulham
- 16/08/14 – Fulham 0-1 Millwall
- 21/04/99 – Fulham 4-1 Millwall
- 17/10/98 – Millwall 0-1 Fulham
- 14/03/98 – Fulham 1-2 Millwall
Players in Common
Kasey Keller spent the majority of his career in England and it was Millwall who brought him across the pond when he was in his early twenties. The Washington native became a fan favourite down at The Den and was voted player of the season in 1992/93. He spent 4 seasons in the second tier with the Lions making 202 appearances, 77 more than he made for any other club during his career. In 1995/96 Millwall were relegated to the old Division Two resulting in Keller being sold to Leicester City who were heading in the opposite direction, gaining promotion to the Premier League.
Millwall – 202 appearances
The Premier League is where the former USA number one is fondly remembered by the Whites’ faithful. Despite making just 14 appearances during the 2007/08 season, it was the manner in which his brief contribution for Fulham will be remembered. Keller began the season as second choice to Antti Niemi and was thrown into the deep end with just 10 games to play. The club was staring down the barrel of relegation and what happened next will be forever known as The Great Escape. Fulham took 17 out of 30 points from those final 10 games and Keller played as big a part as anyone in that final run-in and without his heroics, our history would be very different. Fulham have a proud history with American players and Keller is a key component of that successful connection.
Fulham – 14 appearances
Plus – Les Barrett, Hameur Bouazza, Matthew Briggs, Mark Crossley, Jimmy Dunne, Roy Dwight, Ray Evans, Ryan Fredericks, Chris Guthrie, Barry Hayles, Terry Hurlock, Shaun Hutchinson, Kasey Keller, Matthew Lawrence, Scott Malone, Paul Moody, Maik Taylor, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Tony Warner & Robert Wilson.
Millwall Stats from 2018/19
- Had a poor year last year and finished 21st – narrowly avoided relegation.
- They had a poor record on the road last season winning only 3 out of their 23 away games and losing 15 of them.
Clean sheets were also few and far between on their travels with just 3. They kept 11 overall.
Millwall scored 22 away goals averaging a goal every 94 minutes in the last campaign.
They conceded 37 away goals which was an average of every 56 minutes.
Away from home Millwall went in winning at half time only 3 times all season.
68% of their away goals (15)came in the second half.
Millwall scored first away from home only 5 times.
Of their 3 away wins, only one came against a team in the top half (Derby County).
Fulham are most likely to concede in the last 10 minutes based on when Millwall most frequently scored away last season.
Fulham are most likely to score in the last 15 minutes based on when Millwall conceded the most.
Both teams are unlikely to score in the first 15 mins.
- Striker Lee Gregory was their top scorer last season scoring 14 in the league and assisting 7.
- However, he has since been sold to Stoke City and replaced by Matt Smith.
- Right midfielder Jed Wallace contributed 5 goals and assisted 2 last season.
- Centre half Jake Cooper was the only player to play every single league game last year making 5.9 clearances per game.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding has replaced David Martin as first choice. Whilst they’ve also signed 2 other keepers on loan.
Centre-forward Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has joined from Reading. He has a record of 16 goals and 4 assists in 3 Championship seasons.
Attacking midfielder Connor Mahoney from Bournemouth who managed 2 goals and 4 assists on loan with Birmingham last season.
Former Fulham Striker Matt Smith from QPR.
Battle to Watch
Ivan Cavaleiro vs Mahlon Romeo: Having scored his first goal for the club, I expect Cavaleiro to be filled with confidence as he faces up against Mahlon Romeo, who also had a good performance this past weekend. Look for Cavaleiro to take on the young right-back, and use the likes of Joe Bryan to overlap as much as possible in order to unleash another couple of speculative shots on goal.
Opposition View (@Lucasball2211)
Has the positive start to the season altered your expectations?
Not massively, no. It’s easy to get carried away but I’m just happy we’ve got a team of passionate players that care and won’t be so lazy as some of those last year. Standards have gone up and we’re finally moving towards a Championship mentality rather than just constantly going on about how we’re small fry at this level. Gradual improvement is success and I still expect a lower mid-table finish this season – but who knows? This is the Championship after all!
What are the main strengths and weaknesses in your squad?
I actually think we have good competition all over the pitch. We don’t have the quality of individuals such as Aleksandar Mitrovic, but our camaraderie and high energy more than makes up with that – especially when combined with the volume of the fans.
We’re strong at set pieces at both ends and will be good from crosses in open play too. We also showed we can defend immense pressure with 10 men at the weekend though a performance like that against Fulham would be much harder.
Our main weakness is probably a lack of raw pace. We don’t have that super quick player or two whose pace can change the game from the bench.
Shaun Hutchinson didn’t do particularly well when he was with us, how is he rated down at the Den?
He’s had an up and down Den career. His first season wasn’t great as he struggled with injuries but he showed his quality when he did play.
Upon promotion, he played every minute of all 46 league games and was a key man in our near-miss with the play-offs, leading the defensive line well.
Last season though, injuries meant he had a stop-start campaign and they seemed to come just as he was beginning to hit form every time. Harris now says he’s back to his best, though he’s yet to take part in a league game in 2019/20.
Another former Fulham player is new signing Matt Smith. What are your first impressions based on what you’ve seen so far?
For a fee of around £400,000, what a buy. We’ve chased him for years and he suits us down to the ground. He’s already well-liked among the fan base and provides a key part of our set up – particularly at home – often being the target for Jake Cooper’s long passes to start attacks quickly.
With Connor Mahoney amongst the best crossers in the league, Smith should get plenty of service and I expect him to score 10+ goals in this side – he already has 2 in the first 3 matches, winning us 4 points in the process.
Is Neil Harris just a good fit for Millwall or can you see him going onto be a top manager elsewhere? Is he underrated?
I think much of the perceived tactical limitations that Harris has were down to a lack of funds and/or versatile players to fit different systems. Now, we’re spending a bit more money and have multiple versatile players, allowing for changing setups depending on the opposition.
Of course, he’s a very good fit at The Den given his relationship with the fan base and others may not like the direct style he prefers, but you can’t doubt that it’s effective when he has the right players.
I think he could go on to do well elsewhere but that the best moments of his managerial career will be in SE16.
Top 6 & Bottom 3 predictions for the Champ?
How do you see the game panning out?
I expect us to set up to counter-attack, allowing Fulham to dominate the ball. We’ll defend our box and look to break when opportunities arise – which will be harder without Jed Wallace, who is suspended… much like Aleksandar Mitrovic should be! I can see us nicking a goal and then settling for at least a point.
Fulham 1-1 Millwall.
(4-2-3-1) Bialkowski; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, M.Wallace; Leonard, Williams; Mahoney, Thompson, Ferguson; Bradshaw.
Thanks to Lucas Ball from @NewsAtDen for answering our questions.
The Championship, as expected, will have matches come thick and fast for Fulham. Scott Parker will be looking to maintain the integrity of his formation and strategy, but it would be a good time to slot in some players he may want to see perform in match situations. I believe it’s the perfect time to see Josh Onomah in place of Stefan Johansen at this point. It’s not to say Johansen has not played well, but more so to test our depth and possibly validate what good potential Parker sees in Onomah overall.
One of the main storylines will be welcoming big Matt Smith back to Craven Cottage and hoping he doesn’t tower above Ream and Mawson too often. He’s coming off nabbing his first goal of the season in their victory over Sheffield Wednesday, which places Millwall in 7th on the table currently.
I expect a physical battle, one that will see a lot more crowded midfield. It will take the slick combination passing we displayed against Huddersfield to break Millwall down. Parker has grown more into a consistent strategy, and this cluster of matches may challenge the endurance of the team just a bit more. I believe we have the talent and potential to feed off the energy at the Cottage and get a sound victory.
Fulham 3-1 Millwall.