On Saturday afternoon, Millwall host Middlesbrough at The Den in the EFL Championship. The reverse fixture in Middlesbrough was a 1-1 draw. In that game, Crooks scored for Middlesbrough, and for Millwall, they got their goal through an own goal from S. Bamba. Millwall’s previous game was a goalless draw at Blackburn, and Middlesbrough will want to forget the 1-4 hammering at Sheffield United.
Millwall are coming off a goalless draw at Ewood Park in the midweek match against Blackburn Rovers. Millwall’s record now stands at 14 wins, 11 draws, and 10 losses. In their last three games, they have scored only two goals. But it is in defense where they are truly shining this season. xGA predicted Millwall to ship 51 goals this season up to this point. But they have conceded only 34 goals, an astonishing difference of 17. Due to their defense, Millwall are currently in the top half of the table.
Millwall’s problems lie in the attack. Looking at the shot map, they haven’t been able to generate big chances frequently. Only one Millwall player has outperformed his xG (Tom Bradshaw) so far this season. Other players have performed as expected or underperformed on their xG. 35 games into the season, and no Millwall player has reached double figures in goals.
Jed Wallace has the most assists for Millwall this season – six. The next best player has only one-third of Jed Wallace’s numbers. It is easy to see why. Wallace produced the most xT for Millwall this season, both from open play and set-pieces. Besides Wallace, Scott Malone also creates some threats for the team, especially with his corners.
Middlesbrough are coming off a bad 1-4 defeat at Bramall Lane to Sheffield United. Middlesbrough have now lost 12 games this season, winning 16 and drawing seven. xG indicates that Middlesbrough should have scored around 53 to 54 goals this season till today, but they have managed to score only 46 goals, which is quite an underachievement so far. They will need to improve their goalscoring abilities, if they are to make the promotion play-off spots. Middlesbrough have been inconsistent in the last five games, winning two and losing the other three.
Middlesbrough’s underachievement in attack can be seen above. They are scoring only 0.11 goals per shot taken – around one goal every nine shots.
Both Millwall and Middlesbrough are in the top half of the table, but they both need good performances to have any hope of reaching the promotion play-offs.