Our football writer previews the FA Cup matchup between Millwall and Leicester City.
The Rise and Fall of Leicester City. That would make a snappy title for that movie that they are making about the Foxes. If they don’t watch out, that’s where the narrative is headed, and could this trip to Millwall be the next chapter in that sordid tale?
Neil Harris’ side are in contention for promotion in League One, despite some rather disreputable off-the-field scandals involving false land claims festering. But either way you want to look at it, the Den is never a tie you really want, is it? Especially if you are a side struggling for coherence with every journo in the world itching to construct the latest part of your epitaph. This could be an interesting weekend for the Foxes.
FA Cup, 5th Round | Saturday 18 February | The Den | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Millwall 18/10 | Draw 22/10 | Leicester City 15/10
The Lions have already bettered Watford and Bournemouth at the Den in this competition, scoring four goals and conceding none. So the old adage that the Den is an uncomfortable place to visit does seem to stick.
Millwall have actually been unbeaten since losing to Scunthorpe on December 17, with seven clean sheets in their last eight games. Shaun Williams made an excellent return to the squad against Port Vale following the birth of his second child, and his ability to link up with the likes of Aiden O'Brien and Lee Gregory will be key to the Cottages.
Millwall will clearly look to exploit a makeshift Foxes defensive line-up, so you can expect Jake Cooper and Byron Webster to feature prominently from dead-ball scenarios. Millwall will look to get in Leicester’s faces, especially through the dynamic and energetic figure of Fred Onyedinma. They will, however, need to be careful of that dangerous Leicester counterattack.
The Foxes made a full ten changes last time around in the second-round replay with Derby. Claudio Ranieri clearly has to prioritize next week’s UEFA Champions League fixture with Sevilla, not to mention keep all his players fit for what looks to be a hectic relegation battle.
Ron-Robert Zieler will come in for Schmeichel - who despite all his on-camera bravado may be one of the players most in need of a rest. Martin Olsson's second goal at the weekend was soft, even by Leicester standards. Marcin Wasilewski and Yohan Benalouane should relieve Wes Mogan and Robert Huth, while Ben Chilwell should deputize for Christian Fuchs at Left-back.
Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater won’t feature, which should see stalwart Andy King play alongside Nampalys Mendy in the heart of the park. Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa will likely play up front this weekend. It seems a sensible option in balancing schedules, with pure pace the one thing that could easily unlock this workmanlike Millwall side.
Despite all the negative juju surrounding the club at present, I think it’s just like this Leicester side to confound critics and sneak a win here. It won’t be easy, especially giving Millwall’s recent form, but their extra quality up front should give them the edge.
Verdict: Leicester City Win (15/10)
I think it just seems to keep in with the crazy Foxes narrative. Firstly, Musa and Gray could destroy a nugget Millwall side if they feel up to it. So that’s the footballing reasons out the way.
But wouldn’t it just make sense that they extend their stay in this competition, thus putting more and more pressure on their collapsing league campaign? So there’s the cosmic reason. Back the Foxes to come away with the victory.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets