Millwall are back at The Den this Saturday as The Lions contest a local derby with Lee Bowyer's Charlton Athletic side making the short trip to South Bermondsey. The Lions face The Addicks for the first time in just under three years, with the visitors looking to register a first competitive victory over Millwall since 1996.
Gary Rowett’s men sit 17th in the Sky Bet Championship heading into the fixture, four points behind Charlton, currently in 10th spot. A cracking start in August for The Addicks has slowed down slightly with just two wins from nine since, but regular points picked up have seen the red side of South-East London into a healthy position in the League table. Charlton have contested matches recently against tough opponents – their last three games have come against members of the current top six.
Charlton Athletic returned to the second tier in the summer following promotion via the League One Play-Offs in 2018/19. This season represents the first Championship term for The Addicks since 2015/16, and supporters at The Valley are enjoying exciting times for their team under the stewardship of Bowyer. Despite spending the majority of their League history in the second tier, Charlton enjoyed Premier League football for the best part of the 2000s – including seven straight years in the top flight ending in 2007 – and featured Lions boss Rowett in their defence between 2002 and 2004. The club’s highest-ever League finish came as runners-up of the old First Division in 1937, winning the second tier title in 2000 as one of five promotions, and lifting the FA Cup in 1947 courtesy of a 1-0 win over Burnley.
The club have brought in a number of players in a bid to strengthen their squad for their Championship return. Chuks Aneke, Ben Purrington and Tom Lockyer were among those to come in, along with a return to The Valley for former Lions goalkeeper Ben Amos, and the permanent recruits of Jonny Williams, Tomer Hemed and Adam Matthews. Loan coups for players including Conor Gallagher, Jonathan Leko and Beram Kayal secured further firepower. Departing SE7 were Patrick Bauer, Tariqe Fosu and Joe Aribo, along with the sale of Anfernee Dijksteel.
Lee Bowyer returned to Charlton Athletic as manager in March 2018 after a 22-year absence, having represented The Addicks as his first club as a player, scoring in the season of our opponents’ last win over Millwall. The former midfielder – born in East London – made over 200 League appearances for Leeds United, as well as Newcastle, West Ham, Birmingham and finally Ipswich, earning a sole senior England cap in 2002 whilst at Elland Road. Bowyer played a significant number of European matches, and won the League Cup – his first major trophy – as a Birmingham player in 2011. Following his first coaching role with Watford Under 21s, a series of caretaker spells in charge of Charlton would be followed by a permanent deal, guiding the club to League One promotion in his first full campaign.
Millwall boast a very healthy record over our London neighbours, with 35 wins to Charlton’s 12 – there have been 27 draws including a goalless stalemate last time out in January 2017. The Lions will look to extend our unbeaten run against The Addicks to 11 this weekend, with our last victory in this fixture coming in December 2016’s 3-1 win at The Den – Aiden O’Brien and a Steve Morison double sealing three points.