Millwall will travel to Cardiff on Saturday in the Championship. Mick McCarthy will come up against his former club in his first home game for Cardiff. The Bluebirds came from two behind on Wednesday, to rescue a draw at Barnsley. A result which stopped a run of six defeats. Millwall drew with promotion chasing Watford on Tuesday.
Both sides have 30 points so far this season with Cardiff being 15th and Millwall 16th. Cardiff are above on goal difference. Cardiff’s draw on Tuesday comes after the team suffered six defeats. Millwall beat Huddersfield 1-0 on their last away game, with former Cardiff defender Scott Malone getting the goal.
The last six meetings between the sides have ended in draws. Last season saw a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City Stadium, Aden Flint scoring for City with Jed Wallace scoring for the Lions. The teams met earlier this season at The Den, the game ending 1-1. Matt Smith gave Millwall the lead after 35 minutes, before Kieffer Moore levelled the game on 79 minutes.
Junior Hoilett has been ruled out after tightening up after the Barnsley game but will be in contention for next weekends Seven-side derby. Joe Bennett who missed the Barnsley match is available. Lee Tomlin will be back training in a couple of weeks, with McCarthy targeting a return around February 20th. Osei-Tutu is still five to six away from making a return.
Connor Mahoney and Billy Mitchell will likely miss the trip to Cardiff. The pair are still working on returning to full fitness after injuries. Defender Murray Wallace will miss the Cardiff game. Former Cardiff forward Kenneth Zohore could start against his former team.
Mick McCarthy is set to take charge of Cardiff at home for the first time and was asked about playing his first game without fans:
“I’ve said in my programme notes that I’m delighted to be here. I’ve always admired the club, but I didn’t realise how big a club it is. Whenever I’ve come down, it’s always been a great atmosphere.”
“Millwall is a club still very close to my heart. I am still very much in the vicinity of Millwall support. I have loads of pals that still support them. If I’m not playing against them I want them to do well, but if I am playing against them, I obviously want to win. They’re not getting beat on a regular basis, so they’re a tough nut to crack.”
After seeing his players in match action for the first time McCarthy said,
“You’re always learning something. No experience is wasted.
“I guess when you’ve lost seven on the bounce. People question the desire and fight. That was evident against Barnsley. I’ve rarely been in a game as hard fought and ferocious as that. Wasn’t one for the purists I have to be honest. It just showed to me that there’s plenty of fight in these lads. If you don’t stand up to that kind of assault on Wednesday, I admire Barnsley for the way they went about it, and they worked their socks off. To get a draw is a very good point.”
Millwall manager Gary Rowett, meanwhile, wants his side to keep improving:
“We were sat last season mid-table and we managed to finish eighth,”
“And at no time was our focus on, ‘we have to finish in the play-offs’, it was purely about remaining competitive and pushing towards the top parts of the division.
“I think we’re the same now. We’re disappointed with our first half of the season and we want to improve. We don’t want to be where we are, but at the same time we’re respectful that it’s a unique season.
“There are a lot of good sides in the division.
“We’ve got to just accept that we are where we are and we’ve got to improve. That’s our aim.
“If improving means starting to climb the table then we’ll see where that takes us.
“I’d like us to get ourselves back into a better position. If performances result in that then fantastic.”
Cardiff will look to top scorer Keiffer Moore who netted his ninth goal of the season at Barnsley. Cardiff have not lost a game when Keiffer Moore has scored. Moore wins an average of 11 aerials a game allowing a direct route from defence to attack. He is ranked number two in the division according to whoscored.com with a rating of 7.57
Stopping Moore will be a difficult task but Lions defender Jake Cooper could be the key to stopping him. Having a whoscored.com rating of 7.13 the defender has an average of 5 aerial wins per match.
Prediction; Cardiff 1 v 1 Millwall
Both sides are on the same points and neither is in flying form. History is with the draw, the side have mostly drawn over the years. There have been 28 draws, with Cardiff winning 21 times to Millwall’s 20. Just in the last ten years there have been nine draws. This is not a game for the football purists.