Our scribe gives his verdict on what should be a fractious London Derby between Tottenham and Millwall.
This is a David and Goliath story that has the pulses of London racing. Millwall’s unsavoury reputation as a bastion of football hooliganism means that this London derby – though not quite imbued with the same hatred as a West Ham-Millwall encounter – will probably contain an extra edge that could give the more pugilistic League One side a better chance than usual. Neil Harris’ side will not be daunted, having knocked out three Premier League sides already in the tournament. Spurs, however, are in fine domestic form and Harry Kane has scored 8 goals in his last 3 domestic matches, highlighting the enormity of the task facing Millwall.
Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall | Sunday 12 March | White Hart Lane | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Tottenham 7/20 | Draw 13/2 | Millwall 17/1
I expect Pochettino to name a nearly full strength side this weekend, with perhaps the only exception being Vorm coming in for Hugo Lloris. Spurs let in a few careless goals against Everton and will be looking to give a complete performance this weekend. Millwall’s attritional midfield will challenge the grit of this Spurs side, but one suspects that Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembelle will be more than up to the physical challenge. Jake Cooper and Byron Webster are going to be tested by the deft movement of Spurs’ frontline.
That’s what makes Kane so dangerous. He may not be the quickest player ever, but his ability to drop off instinctively into dangerous areas highlight his highly evolved footballing brain. Pochettino will likely attempt to fine-tune the 3-4-3 formation he has been tinkering with in recent weeks. Danny Rose returns in April and Ben Davies will continue to deputise for the England international. The defensive wall of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderwiereld and Eric Dier will be difficult for this pugnacious Millwall side to penetrate.
Neil Harris’ side are on an impressive run of their own, unbeaten in their last 17 encounters. This type of form has put them on the precipice of Championship promotion, an idea that would have been thought more that fanciful three months ago. One feature of their recent run has been their stoic defence. And that’s not just a reflection of the porosity of quality in League One. They kept clean-sheets against Bournemouth, Watford and Premier League Champions Leicester en route to the Quarter-Finals.
Lee Gregory will lead the line for Millwall. The 28-year-old striker is their leading scorer with 14 goals this season, and Onyedinma provides the robust physical presence to support him. I do, however, find it hard to envisage how much possession their beleaguered frontline is going to get. Williams and Thompson are going to need to close down and harry Dembelle and Wanyama as effectively as possible.
The Verdict: Home to win both Halves 1/1
I think that Spurs will express themselves to the maximum against a gallant but ultimately mediocre Millwall side. Harry Kane and Dele Alli will flummox the defence with their movement while Spurs’ defence will prove impregnable./