After a spate of giant-killings in the last round of the FA Cup, Millwall will hope to strike another blow in favour of the lower leagues by defeating Everton at The Den on Saturday (5.30pm, televised live on BBC1).
Five Premier League teams were eliminated by sides further down the pyramid in the third round ties earlier this month. Teams from the Championship, League One and even a couple from League Two kept the traditions of the FA Cup alive by seeing off top-flight sides.
Millwall will seek to keep that run going as one of the five lower-league teams set to square off against Premier League opposition in this weekend’s fourth round. While they were eliminated at that stage last season before facing a top-flight side, they defeated Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester en route to the quarter-finals in the 2016-17 season.
Neil Harris was the man in the dugout during that run, and the former Millwall striker, their all-time top scorer, remains in charge today. After an impressive eighth-place finish last season in the club’s first campaign back in the Championship following a two-year absence, things have not gone anywhere near as smoothly for him and his team this time around.
Millwall have recorded just seven wins in their 28 league matches to date and have twice gone on eight-match winless streaks. The result is that they find themselves 19th in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone, 11 shy of the top 10 and a full 17 away from the playoff places.
It would, though, be fair to say that they are relatively safe from the drop. It is difficult to see the three relegation places being filled by anyone but the current occupants of the bottom four positions. Millwall’s underlying statistics suggest they have had a good amount of bad fortune to date. They are pretty solid side from a structural standpoint.
Indeed, their situation might just prove conducive to a good cup run. Without much really to play for in the league, they can dedicate energy and resources to the FA Cup. While their open-play attacking output is average, they carry a clear threat from set-pieces. Allied to a decent defensive unit, that makes them potentially awkward opponents.
Everton will certainly be wary of Millwall’s strength from dead-ball situations. No other side in the Premier League has conceded more times from set-pieces so far this season. Only two have conceded a higher percentage of their goals from them than Everton’s 30 percent.
Little things like that are gradually beginning to eat away at the encouraging start Marco Silva made to life in the Everton dugout. A solid record of six wins, four draws and three defeats in his first 13 matches in charge seemed to bode well. Everton have won just twice in their 10 matches since, with issues evident at both ends of the pitch. In that time, only two teams in the Premier League have accumulated less points.
Silva has now been at the helm for 23 matches, one less than Sam Allardyce took charge of last season after replacing the sacked Ronald Koeman. Everton’s average goal difference per match has improved from -0.13 per match under Allardyce to 0.04 per match under Silva. However they have actually picked up less points per match, from 1.42 under Allardyce to 1.30 under Silva.
It is still far too early to be calling for Silva’s head, even though recent comments from the club’s owner seemed to betray a certain degree of impatience that having spent more on a net basis than all but Manchester City and Manchester United over the last three seasons, Everton are not finding it easier to place themselves within shooting range of the top six. Improvements will be needed soon if he is to avoid coming under further scrutiny.
Our Preview’s Millwall vs Everton Betting Tips Verdict
A glance at the FA Cup outright winner betting market shows Everton at best odds of 16/1 and Millwall as long as 500/1 shots, but the circumstances provide Millwall with a solid opportunity to secure themselves a Premier League scalp. They have won six of their 10 at home, and while they are perhaps not quite strong enough to be backed for victory without a safety net, they nevertheless have a decent chance of making it through to the fifth round.
Compare Millwall vs Everton Betting Odds from Top Bookies