Date and Time: Friday 9th February (19:45)
Venue: The Den
Referee: Keith Stroud
TV: Sky Sports
Cardiff City will be anxiously keen to back up their impressive win over play-off hopefuls Leeds United when travelling to face Millwall this evening.
The Bluebirds comfortably beat Leeds United at Elland Road last weekend, which ultimately cost Thomas Christiansen his job and they will be hoping to put in a similar display at the Den this evening as they look to push for a place in the automatic promotion spots.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Millwall are a very well-drilled side, and Neil Warnock’s side struggled to cope with the Lions physicality last time out as they were held to a 0-0 stalemate in the Welsh capital.
Cardiff, though, will be hoping to push on following last weekend’s 4-1 win at Elland Road, where they showed glimpses of why they led the Championship in the early phases of the season.
However, the Bluebirds have won just two of their six Championship encounters since the turn of Christmas – against Leeds United last weekend, and a comfortable 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland in the Welsh capital.
The Lions have been in good form of late, and have lost just one game of their previous seven encounters, but were knocked out of the FA Cup on Tuesday evening as they lost their fourth round replay to League One outfit Rochdale.
Harris’ men, however, haven’t tasted defeat in the Championship since their 2-1 defeat on New Year’s Day to Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Millwall also recorded an impressive point as they drew 0-0 with second-placed Derby County at the Den, as well as earning an enthralling three points at Elland Road in a 4-3 thriller as last-gasp goals from Tom Elliot and Jed Wallace gave the Lions the victory.
Cardiff have faired well on the road this season, with Warnock’s men currently sixth in the away form table overall. The Bluebirds have won a total of seven, drawn three and lost five on the road.
The hosts have good form at the Den, though and will be anxiously hoping to continue that against Cardiff in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday evening, with Harris’ side sitting in ninth place in the form table in terms of their home form – they have recorded seven wins, five draws and only lost three games all season at home.
Cardiff could go second on Friday night, although it looks unlikely, with the Bluebirds needing to beat the Lions by six goals or more in South Bermondsey on Friday evening.
The Bluebirds haven’t had the best of records against the Lions in recent seasons, and the last time they beat Friday’s opponents was in 2012 as Rudy Gestede’s header gave Malky Mackay’s side a five-point lead at the top of the Championship table – they went onto win the league by eight points that season.
Since then, though, the Lions have gone three games unbeaten against the Bluebirds. The last three games have also produced just one goal, with Millwall winning the last encounter at the Den in 2014 between the two sides as Danny Shittu’s header gave the Lions all three points.
If the Bluebirds are to back-up their impressive performance against Leeds United, they will have to keep close attention to two Millwall players in particular.
Creative midfielders Jed Wallace and George Saville have caused teams problems all season, and both looked impressive in the 0-0 draw in the Welsh capital earlier on in the season.
Saville is the Lions top scorer this season, having netted on seven occasions, as well as chipping in with a solo assist.
Former Portsmouth man Wallace has also thrived under the influence of Harris, and has five goals and four assists to his name this season, and the Bluebirds will need to keep both men quiet if they’re to come away from South East London with all three points.
Striker Lee Gregory is also a threat for the Lions, having netted on six occasions so far this season and the 29 year-old will be keen to add to that tally against Cardiff on Friday evening.
Junior Hoilett has been revitalised for the Bluebirds this season, and is a player who is making Warnock’s men tick this season – he will be hoping to add to his goal tally of seven in 29 Championship appearances – the Canadian also has seven assists to his name for the season for good measure.
The referee in charge of proceedings on Friday evening comes in the form of experienced official Keith Stroud. The Hampshire-born referee has produced a staggering 93 yellow cards in 21 encounters this season, as well as producing seven red cards.
This will be the first Cardiff game Stroud takes charge of this season. The 48 year-old, however, produced two red cards in the opening league one fixture between Peterborough and Bradford in an ill-tempered affair at the ABAX stadium, which saw the Bantams come away with all three points, winning 3-1.
There are no easy games in the Championship, but you do feel if Cardiff want to maintain pressure on the league’s top two, this is a game they ideally need to pick up three points from Friday’s game.
After Friday night’s game, the Bluebirds have some tricky encounters coming up, where they will host both Bolton Wanderers and Middlesborough in the Welsh capital, before travelling to Ipswich Town.
Warnock’s side will then end the month with a mouthwatering clash against promotion rivals Bristol City in the Severnside derby at the Cardiff City stadium, so a win against Millwall on Friday night could give them some much-needed confidence and momentum going into them games.
The Lions could name the same side which defeated Reading 2-0 at the Madjeski stadium last weekend – expect Lee Gregory to partner Welshman Steve Morison up front.
Warnock may also name an unchanged side following their convincing victory over Leeds United. Gary Madine could once again lead the line following his debut – fellow January signings Yanic Wildschut, Armand Traore and Marko Grujic could all start again following impressive displays against the Whites as well.