Four days on from the 0-0 draw at home to Hull, Russell Martin’s men welcome Millwall to the Swansea.com stadium. The Swans were unable to turn their superior possession and high quantity of passes into goalscoring opportunities. The draw saw Swansea slip to 21st in the table, with five points and just one win from their opening six games.
Millwall on the other hand sit in 14th, although they are only one point better off than the Swans. They drew 1-1 away at promotion-chasing West Brom last weekend, after picking up their first win of the season in the previous game, a 2-1 win at home to Blackpool.
While Swansea find themselves just one place and one point above the relegation zone, a win could see them rise as high as 12th if results go their way.
Their transfer window
Millwall opened their transfer window by completing two free transfers, first by signing goalkeeper George Long from newly promoted Hull City. The 27-year-old is yet to play in the league for Millwall but has made two League Cup outings.
Their second signing was Scott Malone, who joined from Derby County after three years with the Rams. This is Malone’s second spell at Millwall; he played for the club from 2012-15 before joining Cardiff City. He remained with the Bluebirds for around 18 months, before brief spells at Fulham and Huddersfield. He has started all six of their Championship games so far.
On the same day, Daniel Ballard joined on a season-long loan from Arsenal. The 21-year-old Northern Ireland international has also played in all six of their Championship games.
Soon after, Millwall announced their second loan deal, bringing in Benik Afobe from Stoke City. The 28-year-old striker has already scored twice since joining in July.
George Saville became Millwall’s third and final permanent signing, joining from Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee. This is Saville’s fourth spell at Millwall, after two loan spells and two permanent moves. The former Chelsea youth product has been ever-present since making his return to the London club.
After an extremely quiet spell, Millwall announced their sixth and final signing on Transfer Deadline Day when Sheyi Ojo arrived on loan from Liverpool. The tricky winger will likely receive a hostile reception, after spending the entirety of last season on loan at rivals Cardiff City. He scored five goals in 41 appearances for the Welsh club.
With six senior signings, Millwall have improved their squad this season without losing many first-team players.
Shane Ferguson joined League One Rotherham United after six years in Millwall. The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international made 180 league appearances for Millwall, but only played 13 times last season. He has 50 caps for Northern Ireland and was an unused substitute in their 1-0 defeat to Wales at Euro 2016.
George Alexander and James Brown joined Bromley and St Johnstone respectively, although both only had one league appearance each to their name during their spells at Millwall.
They also waved goodbye to Irish midfielder Shaun Williams. During his eight seasons at The Den, Williams made over 250 league appearances for Millwall. He joined Portsmouth in League One on a free transfer. Williams has made three appearances for Republic of Ireland, scoring his only goal in a 4-1 defeat to Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium in 2018.
Millwall also loaned out several young players for the 2021-22 season, with Hayden Muller, Alex Mitchell, Isaac Alaofe and Mahlon Romeo joining St Johnstone, Leyton Orient, Sutton United and Portsmouth respectively. Meanwhile, Tyler Burey joined Hartlepool on loan until January.
Millwall are captained by the experienced Alex Pearce. The 32-year-old centre back joined the club on loan from Derby County in January 2019, before making his move permanent four months later. In July 2019, Pearce was officially named captain.
While on loan at the club in 2018-19, Pearce made 11 Championship appearances as Millwall finished one place above the relegation zone. He scored his first and only goal for the club in a quarter-final FA Cup defeat to Brighton.
Millwall were much improved in Pearce’s first full season, finishing in eighth place with 68 points, just two points behind Swansea in sixth. He played 29 Championship games that season.
In 2020-21, Pearce featured in 24 Championship outings as the club finished in a respectable 11th place.
Pearce is yet to feature for Millwall this season.
After Neil Harris left to join Cardiff City in October 2019, Millwall brought in Gary Rowett as his replacement. The 47-year-old has managed a host of Championship clubs already since hanging up his playing boots in 2007.
He began his playing career at Cambridge United, where he made 63 appearances in the second and third tiers, before joining Premier League side Everton in 1993. However, he found playing time hard to come by while at the Toffees, joining third-tier Blackpool on loan in 1994-95 after just four appearances for Everton.
in 1995-96, Rowett completed a permanent move to Derby County. He made 35 appearances in his debut season as the club were promoted to the Premier League. He remained at the club for two more years, making 70 Premier League appearances before leaving to join Birmingham in 1998.
He spent two years at Birmingham, playing in 87 out of a possible 92 second-tier games in that time.
He then made his return to the Premier League by joining Leicester City for £3 million, where he played in all 38 of their games in 2000-01. He left the club in 2002, joining fellow Premier League side Charlton Athletic for £3.5 million. He would go on to make just 13 Premier League appearances before briefly retiring due to a knee injury.
However, he made a return to football in 2005, joining Conference Premier side Burton Albion. There, he played 43 non-league games, before officially retiring in 2007.
Two years on, Rowett was named as assistant manager at Burton Albion, and took temporary charge following the sacking of Paul Peschisolido in 2012. He was announced as their permanent manager in May 2012, guiding them to the League Two playoffs in his first season in charge.
A year later, he took Burton to the play-off final, although they were beaten by Fleetwood Town. He remained in charge of the club until October 2014, when he returned to former club Birmingham. The Blues were sat in 23rd place in the Championship upon his arrival, however, a remarkable turnaround under Rowett saw the club finish 10th. He guided Birmingham to a second successive 10th place finish in 2016.
In December 2016, with Birmingham sat in seventh and competing for a play-off place, Rowett was controversially sacked by the club’s new owners. Gianfranco Zola was appointed in his place, however he resigned only a few months later after a dreadful run of just two wins in 24 games. The club finished 19th; two points clear of the relegation zone.
Exactly three months after his unjust sacking, he returned to another former club. This time it was Derby County who entrusted his services, with Rowett signing a two-year deal. He guided the club to ninth, picking up fifteen points from their final nine games.
His first full season in charge of Derby started slowly, but an impressive run from October to December period saw them rise to second in the Championship. However, a poor run in the latter half of the season saw them finish in sixth. They beat Fulham in the first leg of the play-offs, but a 2-0 second-leg defeat meant they missed out on a trip to Wembley.
Soon after the play-off heartbreak, Rowett joined Stoke City. The Potters had just been relegated from the Premier League along with Swansea. He was given a sizeable budget, spending a little over £56 million on the likes of Benik Afobe, Tom Ince and Sam Clucas. Despite the financial backing, Rowett failed to deliver at Stoke. He was sacked in January 2019 after just half a season at the club.
He remained without a job for a little over nine months, before taking the Millwall post in October 2019. The club came eighth in his first season in charge, before an 11th-place finish in 2020-21.
Previous meetings with Millwall
Since Swansea’s relegation in 2018, they have enjoyed a strong record against this week’s visitors. In the six clashes so far, Swansea have won four, drawn one and lost one. The defeat came a month after Rowett’s arrival, with Millwall winning 1-0 away thanks to a Jed Wallace free kick.
3rd October 2020
In the fourth game of the season last year, Swansea were looking to continue their impressive start as they welcomed Millwall to South Wales. The Swans had won two and drawn one of their opening three games, while the visitors had picked up five points from their opening three outings.
Swansea opened the scoring shortly after the second half restart, when Jake Bidwell volleyed home a Morgan Gibbs-White cross. The visitors equalised five minutes later through Wales international Tom Bradshaw. The striker did well to slot the ball under Freddie Woodman from outside the area.
However, the Swans restored their advantage through a scrappy goal from Ben Cabango. The young Welshman poked it home from close range after a scramble in the penalty area. The Swans held on to their narrow lead, picking up the win in a hard-fought game.
Final score – Swansea 2-1 Millwall
10th April 2021
Six months after their previous meeting, the Swans travelled to The Den in poor form, having lost four games in a row.
Moments before half-time, Andre Ayew cut inside before beautifully curling his strike beyond Bartosz Białkowski to give the Swans a 1-0 lead at the interval.
With less than fifteen minutes to go, Jamal Lowe doubled Swansea’s advantage, emphatically drilling his strike into the bottom corner. He scored his second of the game nine minutes later, powering his shot into the roof of the net after a clever turn.
Three excellent finishes gave the Swans all three points.
Final score – Millwall 0-3 Swansea
Despite the disappointing result last weekend, Swansea showed definite signs of improvement. The debuting Olivier Ntcham looked exciting, while the returning Flynn Downes gave an excellent account of himself after missing the previous few games with Covid.
Rhys Williams also had a promising debut, while fellow Deadline Day acquisition Michael Obafemi made his first appearance as a late substitute. Swansea’s new number nine could make his first start, although he is still said to be short of match fitness.
Russell Martin made the surprise decision of starting Ben Hamer in goal over Steven Benda, although the former kept a clean sheet on his league debut last weekend.
Meanwhile, Millwall will be boosted after picking up four points in their previous two games. The Swans will need to be weary of Benik Afobe and Jed Wallace; the two have accounted for five of Millwall’s seven league goals so far.
Once again, there are no ex-Swansea players on the opposing side for this game, although ex-Cardiff players Scott Malone and Sheyi Ojo both started in their last outing.
After yet another winless game, it is imperative that the Swans beat Millwall. Their impressive record against the visitors may give them a boost, but much has changed at Swansea since the two sides met in April.
With the side struggling for goals, expect Obafemi and Joel Piroe to start up-front together, while Ntcham, Williams and Downes should keep their places in the starting eleven after their performances last weekend.