Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Millwall

14th March
First team
Ryan Manning passes the ball against Millwall

Swansea City make the trip to what has recently been a happy hunting ground tonight as Millwall welcome the Swans to The Den.

Here, preview the encounter, taking a look at what to expect from the Lions, the key battle and a key stat.


What to expect from Millwall

Millwall celebrate a goal

If there is one word to describe Millwall's XI under Gary Rowett, it is consistent. Rowett has rarely tinkered from his favoured team and system, remaining loyal to a 4-2-3-1 setup. The changes he makes in personnel are forced rather than out of choice, and this has helped the Lions gain momentum as we near the business end of the campaign.

Millwall come into the midweek fixture inside the playoff places, but a couple of slip ups could see them drop out of the top six. As such, Rowett will demand his players follow up their hard-fought 1-0 win at Reading at the weekend with another victory at the Den tonight.

That, though, will prove easier said than done. Swansea are unbeaten on their last six trips to Millwall, winning four, with Rowett needing his players to step up once more to put three key points on the board and end this hoodoo they have against Swansea.

It's likely that the Lions boss will stick with the 4-2-3-1 setup that means Millwall have been effective going forward and tough to break down. Tom Bradshaw is the man tasked with leading the offensive for Rowett's side, yet he is not the only attacking threat at his disposal. Often operating in the number 10 role, Zian Flemming has been a revelation for Millwall following his summer arrival from Fortuna Sittard.

Jed Wallace's departure for West Brom meant Millwall needed to act accordingly to secure a replacement for the creative star, and Flemming has shouldered the burden impressively. Both the Dutchman and Bradshaw rank joint-top for goals scored (13) of all Millwall players in the Championship this season, while only two players have won more man of the match awards than Flemming (7) in England's second tier this term.

Of the 13 league goals Flemming has scored this season, five have come from outside of the box - no player has scored more from range - and if Millwall can create the chances for the 24-year-old, then in all likelihood he'll be able to do some damage from distance. In truth, Millwall aren't one to pass up a chance to go for goal. They rank sixth for shots per game (13.1) of all Championship sides this season, reinforcing a style of play of 'take a lot of shots', so Swansea must be ready for any attack Millwall throw their way.

There's a sound midfield base in George Saville and Billy Mitchell that allows Flemming and Bradshaw to do the damage in the final third, and that means not only do Millwall attempt a fair few shots, but they don't concede many either, with 11 per game the eighth lowest in the division. Either way, Swansea will need to dig deep to both shut the Lions out, and make the most of any goalscoring opportunities that do come their way.


Key battle

Ryan Manning celebration Millwall

Ryan Manning has scored three league goals this season, one of which was in the home fixture against Millwall back in August. Swansea were unable to hold out for all the spoils in their eventual 2-2 draw with the Lions, but the 26-year-old impressed in the stalemate, as noted by a rating of 7.85, his seventh best in a Championship match this season. Manning, too, has seven man of the match awards to his name, and as the second best rated player in away matches (7.21) in the division, he'll prove a handful for the Lions again tonight.

As such, Dan McNamara could be in for a long 90 minutes should Manning play to the best of his ability. McNamara is a solid performer off the ball, noted in that he ranks for second for interceptions (1.5) and third for tackles per game (1.8) of all Millwall players, yet his sixth worst rated performance of the season came in the 2-2 draw at Swansea earlier in the campaign where he earned a rating of just 6.28. He'll have his work cut out here, that's for sure.


Key stat

To reinforce Millwall's defensive resolve at the Den, only Burnley, Middlesbrough and Blackburn (all 13) have conceded fewer home goals than the Lions (15) in the Championship this season, so Swansea need to be at their best in order to keep their fine record at Millwall going.