TALKING TACTICS: Lions lack bite in midfield area

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Millwall currently sit in the Championship relegation zone.

Goals have been a rare commodity for the South East Londoners. They have netted just seven times this campaign. Doncaster Rovers are the only team to register less than the men from SE16. Burnley will be looking to profit by pocketing their first clean sheet since Hull City in March.

Late goals from Carl Dickinson and Craig Forsyth saw Millwall defeated at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night. The 2-1 reversal was the Lions’ fifth defeat in six fixtures.

They had the third meanest defence in the Championship last season, conceding just 48 times. They have shipped ten goals in the last week.

Kenny Jackett will be looking to draw a line under the month of September. Four defeats, one goal for and thirteen against represent a nightmare for any manager.

Individual mistakes render their defence highly inconsistent. Paul Robinson the main culprit against Watford. Lack of concentration? Maybe so. A simple defensive header inexplicably found its way to the feet of Forsyth, and cost his team a share of the spoils. Burnley must exploit this vulnerability by exerting pressure in the first phase.

If Burnley have the ball facing their goal, expect Brian Howard and Jimmy Abdou to apply pressure. Otherwise block compactness will be kept. (Diagram A) They will wait for a mistake. An aggressive counter attack will ensue.

They will look to track the movement of Dany N`Guessan and release him into the space behind the defensive line.

Liam Feeney will be a key figure this weekend. Eddie Howe will know all about the former Bournemouth man’s raw pace, creativity and vision. The Lions will be relying on his ammunition at The Den. The former Cherries man netted their first league goal in more than nine hours on Tuesday. Drought!

In the second to third phase expect a combination of short possession football followed by a direct approach. They aim to release N`Guessan in depth.(Diagram B)

When the team lose possession Feeney and James Henry make a conscious effort to close in midfield. Space in the centre will be condensed. Millwall will hold a numerical advantage in the middle of the park. Time to panic? Not in the slightest!

I do not see any “bite” in their midfield. I do not expect Howard or Abdou to put their foot on the ball and dictate proceedings.

Marvin Bartley must be selected on Saturday. He can anchor our midfield. Expect him to screen our defence by exerting pressure centrally. Combative yet creative. Burnley are simply a better side with him in the engine room.

Expect a five man defensive wall when Millwall defend frontal free kicks. One player will remain outside the box to nullify a combination. Marking will be zonal.

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