Mark O'Haire - Millwall To Keep Bielsa's Troops In Check

10 min

There’s plenty of Football League action to enjoy this midweek and EFL expert Mark O’Haire shares two of his favourite fancies from Tuesday night’s card.

Lions Can Compete At Elland Road

No Championship team has earned more points than Millwall since Gary Rowett’s first match in charge back in mid-October (W8-D5-L2). The Lions boast an excellent 58% xG ratio across those 15 league fixtures, conceding fewer than two goals in all bar four outings and keeping six clean sheets along the way.

Away form has also significantly improved.

The Bermondsey boys accrued a paltry four points from six road trips under Neil Harris and caretaker Adam Barrett earlier in the campaign. However, under Rowett’s leadership, Millwall have collected 12 points from seven games as guests (W3-D3-L1) at an impressive 1.71 points-per-game average.

The former Birmingham boss favoured 4-2-3-1 at St Andrew’s but, since arriving at The Den, has leant towards a 3-4-3 system, with Jed Wallace freed on the right of the attacking trio, supporting Tom Bradshaw and Aiden O’Brien. Jayson Molumby has swiftly become a hit with the Ireland U21 captain’s aggressive pressing fitting nicely with the identity imposed.

Over four months into his tenure, Gary Rowett’s appointment at Millwall has been as a resounding success.

The Lions head to Elland Road only two points outside of the top-six and Rowett admitted the prospect of playing the promotion favourites three days after FA Cup action impacted his team selection for Saturday’s defeat with Sheffield United. The Millwall manager made five changes to his weekend XI, suggesting it would be “reckless” to field his first XI.

Shaun Williams serves the final game of his three-match suspension but Ryan Woods can return to the side following his recent loan signing, putting Millwall in reasonably good health for the trip to Leeds, and I suspect the capital club can keep Marcelo Bielsa’s men in check.

Both the +1.25 Asian Handicap start (1.75) and Under 2.5 Goals angles appeal (1.77)

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has denied that anxiety is affecting his team after the Whites suffered back-to-back defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and QPR, missing the opportunity to regain their position at the top of the Championship. The Whites remain a point behind leaders West Brom, but the gap between them and the playoffs is down to just four points.

The Whites have won once and picked up only six points from their past seven matches since mid-December (W1-D3-L3) with only rock-bottom Luton collecting fewer; the hosts have also returned just three triumphs from 12 (W3-D5-L4) encounters against top-10 rivals. Their watertight defence has also toiled, leaking in each of their last seven outings.

It’s been a testing start to the new year for Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa

Bielsa’s boys have had 10 days to refocus and can get their promotion push back on track – the mini-break should enable the squad to rediscover their famed intensity, but with Patrick Bamford still leading the line (Jean-Kevin Augustin won’t be available to start this midweek) and talisman Kalvin Phillips suspended, Leeds could struggle to see off stubborn Millwall.

The Lions have only twice lost by a margin of two goals or more in their 2019/20 league campaign and have only failed to net on three occasions this term.

Meanwhile, Leeds have fired blanks in their most recent two outings and 10 of their 13 fixtures in front of their home supporters have produced Under 2.5 Goals. It’s a similar tale when viewing Millwall’s road trips with 10/14 (71%) of the Lions’ away days also rewarding low-scoring backers.

Posh Can Pick Up Rare Points Away

Peterborough are right back in the congested frame for League One promotion after securing back-to-back victories in the space of seven days. Posh picked up a solitary point in five encounters from Boxing Day to slide out of the reckoning, although the most recent reverse at Wimbledon has potentially proven to be a catalyst for renewed hope and vigour.

Darren Ferguson’s team were defeated 1-0 at Kingsmeadow despite dominating the second-half exchanges with a system switch in the final half-hour proving pretty significant. Posh changed to wing-backs as soon as they fell behind and created so many goalscoring chances that the Scot opted to stick to the new-look 3-4-1-2 against both Wycombe and Rotherham.

The transformation has been stark.

From struggling to keep possession and a near total-reliance on Ivan Toney for a goal threat, Peterborough suddenly look the part again. Siriki Dembele has proven to be an excellent foil for Toney, whilst the loan capture of Sammie Szmodics in a fearsome front three has left little time to ponder Marcus Maddison’s future.

A change in formation for Peterborough has sparked them in recent weeks

The January additions of Szmodics, Jack Taylor and Reece Brown have given Ferguson midfield mobility, pace, athleticism and a final-third threat in a system that suits.

Peterborough have not managed three successive victories since October and registered only three triumphs on their travels all season, but they should fancy their chances against 17th-placed Accrington, who start the midweek card only eight points above the drop zone.

Stanley put in a decent performance to draw 1-1 at a Liam Boyce-less Burton on Saturday but have coughed up countless goalscoring opportunities in defeats when hosting strugglers Rochdale and Southend in their last two home fixtures, and might not have the firepower or finishing ability to cope with the division’s top scorers.

The Reds will be without injured 12-goal striker Colby Bishop, as well as midfielder Sam Finley, for Tuesday’s tussle and are taking on a Posh side that boast an imposing 53% Expected Goals (xG) ratio on the road, as well as a 55% xG from open play share.

Recommended Bets

  • Millwall +1.25 – 3 units @ 1.75
  • Under 2.5 Goals in Leeds v Millwall 2 units @ 1.77
  • Peterborough +0 – 2 units @ 1.90