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Sunday, 5th August 2018 Kick-off 16:30
Match Preview: Millwall v Leeds United - Leeds face Lions in crunch clash
Saturday, 16th Sep 2017 12:26 by @LucasMonk_
After their ascension to the pinnacle of the Championship on Tuesday - following a hard-fought victory over Birmingham City at Elland Road - Leeds United travel to The Den to do battle with Millwall for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
At present, Leeds United appear unvanquishable. In spite of injuries (such as those to defenders Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi), the departure of the talismanic Chris Wood (who scored thirty goals last season) and the need for new players recruited from overseas to adapt to the rigours of English football, United, under the magnificent head coach Thomas Christiansen, are at this juncture the best team in the division.
Leeds have not yet been inured to the bitter taste of defeat thus far in Christiansen’s time and have won their last five matches in succession, scoring fourteen goals in seven matches while conceding a paltry two. They deservedly top the table and, when one considers that Millwall have won merely once this season, it is pardonable to predict another comfortable victory for United.
Alas, today’s match at The Den presents to Christiansen and his charges an altogether different challenge. Asking if Leeds are the recipients of enmity from just about every other side in the Football League may well be akin to asking as to whether crocodiles bite - the answer to both is not no - but this away fixture in Bermondsey has a concomitant uniqueness, which it derives from Millwall’s supporters.
In April 2011, Millwall played host to United in a momentous clash; both sides had been promoted from League One in the season prior, and were at this point pursuing the play-offs. During this match, Millwall supporters were ejected for their utterly deplorable and incendiary waving of Turkish flags. Two years previously in 2009, an odious degenerate sporting a Galatasaray shirt was banned for life by Millwall.
The point is simply this: the Leeds team of today will face a profound hostility the likes of which many of them will not have experienced. It is necessary for them to develop thick skin, to be impervious to any racist chanting or other invective that Millwall fans may well hurl in their direction and to concentrate on winning this match for United’s supporters.
A direct, robust and functional side, Millwall, in the absence of Lee Gregory, will seek to make use of former Leeds forward Steve Morison as a focal point through whom they can launch attacks. Leeds shall focus heavily on establishing a hegemony of the midfield so as for the potent front four of Lasogga, Sáiz, Hernández and Alioski (or indeed Kemar Roofe), to roam freely and work in tandem to find the net.
The Lions will be without the services of striker Lee Gregory, who has made over 100 appearances for the club since joining from non-league Halifax Town in the summer of 2014. Gregory was shown a red card following a reckless tackle on Queens Park Rangers’ Josh Scowen on Tuesday, as Millwall relinquished a 2-0 lead to draw the match 2-2.
Doubt has been cast on the fitness of defenders Matthew Pennington and Liam Cooper, though the former is anticipated to retain his berth in the starting eleven.
Ezgjan Alioski may well be supplanted by Kemar Roofe on the left, with Roofe having been most unfortunately relegated to the bench for the visit of Birmingham City on Tuesday.
The two sides last contested a match at The Den in August 2014. In David Hockaday’s first match in charge of United following his preposterous appointment at the club’s head coach, Millwall emerged as merited 2-0 victors courtesy of goals from Mark Beevers and Shaun Williams.
Leeds have not yet conceded a league goal when Pontus Jansson has been on the pitch this season, having gone 540 minutes without conceding.
The Whites are entering a league fixture as the first-placed team in any division for the first time since January 2010, when they led League One; they lost that match 2-0 to Exeter City.
Venue: The Den (20,146).
Coverage: BBC Radio Leeds.
Referee: Tim Robinson, who only became a professional referee last year.
Millwall: Jed Wallace
The 23-year-old winger is presently Millwall’s top goalscorer, having signed for the club on a permanent basis following a two loan spells from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wallace has scored three league goals this season and if the Lions are to secure victory today then the player may have to make another impactful contribution, particularly in the absence of Lee Gregory.
Leeds United: Pierre-Michel Lasogga
The German forward of 25 years has already scored and assisted twice since he joined United from Hamburger SV on a season-long loan, and is currently exhibiting the form that once saw him on the periphery of the German national team. Lasogga has already made clear his fitness to spearhead Leeds’ vanguard and he will doubtless be relishing the prospect of facing a side who appear destined for a relegation dogfight.
Prediction: Millwall 0-2 Leeds United
Photo: Action Images
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