Millwall vs Leicester City preview: Giant-killing Lions to take another Premier League scalp?

Struggling Leicester City take a break from Premier League action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to the New Den to take on League One outfit Millwall in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

Having beaten local rivals Derby County 3-1 in a replay, the Foxes’ reward was a trip to the capital to take on Neil Harris’ men.

The Lions have already dispatched of Southend United, Braintree Town and even top-flight opposition in the form of Bournemouth and Watford on route to the last-16. Therefore, it’s going to be far from an easy task for Claudio Ranieri’s men to reach the quarter-finals of the historic competition.

Will league form play a part?

The two sides couldn’t come into this clash on a more differing run of results. Claudio Ranieri’s men have not won in the Premier League since a 1-0 victory over West Ham United on New Year’s Eve. Failing to score in league play since that win, the Foxes have suffered six defeats in their last seven league games, the only points coming courtesy of a scoreless draw against relegation rivals Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Falling to heavy defeats at the hands of Chelsea, Manchester United and Southampton, the East-Midlanders’ fortunes didn’t improve as they suffered a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Swansea City last weekend.

The only joy that the reigning champions have enjoyed in 2017 are the victories in cup action: a 2-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park and a 3-1 extra-time home win against Derby following a 2-2 draw at Pride Park. Ranieri will therefore be keen to reach the quarter finals, something Leicester haven’t managed since 2012, eventually being knocked out by Chelsea.

Demarai Gray secured Leicester's passage against Derby with a wonderful solo effort | Photo: Roland Harrison/ Getty
Demarai Gray secured Leicester's passage against Derby with a wonderful solo effort | Photo: Roland Harrison/ Getty

Elsewhere, the League One side are in excellent form. Currently undefeated in 12 matches since a 3-0 defeat to Scunthorpe United, the Lions are firmly in contention for the play offs. Sitting in sixth in the standings, Harris will hope that his team can push on for promotion in the closing stages of the 2016/17 campaign.

Millwall have also been fantastic in the FA Cup. Progressing through the first two rounds with relative ease thanks to a 1-0 win over Southend and then a 5-2 dismantling of non-league Braintree Town. Some supporters expected the Londoners to succumb to Bournemouth but shocked the Premier League outfit by sweeping them aside 3-0, before a late 1-0 victory over Watford at the New Den.

The team last reached this round of the FA Cup back in 2013 as the then Championship team went all the way through to a Wembley semi-final when they were ousted by eventual winners Wigan Athletic.

Home comforts for the Lions

One thing that will give Millwall supporters hope against yet another Premier League team is their relatively positive home record against the Foxes. In 21 clashes on home soil, the Lions have taken the victory on 12 occasions, with visitors claiming a win on only seven occasions. As a matter of fact, Leicester have only won three games when travelling to the New Den since 1970.

Despite this however, the Foxes do hold a marginally better record than this weekend’s opposition. Having clashed 42 times since the first in 1934, Leicester have got the better of the Lions 18 times, with their opponents only just behind on 16 wins.

In 83 years, the two teams have only been drawn together four times in the FA Cup. Saturday’s match will be the first time that the two come up against each other in the esteemed competition since 1991. Then ironically in the fifth round, Millwall progressed, claiming a 2-1 victory at home.

The other three occasions have seen another Lions’ win and two Leicester wins, including the first-ever time the pair played, a crazy 6-3 victory for the Foxes in London.

Team News

Claudio Ranieri has suggested that there may well be changes for his team’s trip to the capital. In his pre-match press conference at the King Power Stadium, the Italian revealed that Islam Slimani and Leonardo Ulloa are both suffering from injury so are unlikely to feature. So, it would be no surprise to see any of Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki, Ahmed Musa or Demarai Gray occupying the attacking positions.

It may also be a good opportunity for Molla Wague to earn his Leicester City debut. The Malian centre-back, signed on deadline day, has yet to make an appearance for his new club so he may well be called upon for the trip to the New Den.

There could also be other major changes to the team with the Foxes traveling to Spain mid-week for their UEFA Champions League clash with Sevilla. Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater and Kasper Schmeichel may all have to make way at the weekend if they are to be fresh for the trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Record signing Islam Slimani is again missing for the Foxes | Photo: Getty/ Plumb Images
Record signing Islam Slimani is again missing for the Foxes | Photo: Getty/ Plumb Images

Despite some potential changes, Ranieri should not underestimate Millwall, especially their attacking threat. Steve Morison, Aiden O’Brien and Lee Gregory have all hit double figures for goals so far this campaign so present quite a task for the Leicester City back-line.

The Lions also possess an abundance of youthful promise too, none more so than academy graduate Fred Onyedinma who could feature against the reigning Premier League champions. On the injury front, Harris could welcome back the likes of the aforementioned Gregory, defender Shaun Hutchinson and Ben Thompson after the trio all returned to training following injury lay-offs.

Predicted Line-Ups

Millwall: Archer; Cummings, Webster, Cooper, Craig; Onyedinma, Thompson, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.

Leicester City: Zieler; Amartey, Benalouane, Wague, Chilwell; Kapustka, Mendy, N’didi, Musa; Gray, Okazaki.