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Five things we learned: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Millwall

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

#1: Wilkinson brings balance to the back four

Andy Wilkinson made his Millwall debut barely 12 hours after signing for the club.

There wasn't time for him to train with the Lions on Monday, so he went straight to the team hotel on the outskirts of Wigan instead.

The only preparation Wilkinson had for this game was a light walk-through session on an indoor astroturf yesterday morning.

But he slotted in seamlessly at the DW Stadium, bringing much-needed balance to Millwall's back four.

Ian Holloway's defence has been lopsided since Carlos Edwards suffered a horrific knee injury against Nottingham Forest in September.

The Lions looked like a patched-up unit as Alan Dunne, Jimmy Abdou, Justin Hoyte and Richard Chaplow all took turns at filling in there.

In truth there wasn’t an outstanding candidate within the existing group of players to replace Edwards.

Right back had become Holloway's biggest conundrum so it was little surprise that the Millwall boss ultimately looked outside the club for a solution.

On first viewing, Wilkinson seems an ideal addition to the squad – after all, the 30-year-old has made over 100 Premier League appearances in that position.

Against the Latics, he was composed on the ball, forceful in the tackle and always alert to any danger. He did a good job of shackling James McClean.

Wilkinson won't replicate Edwards' attacking qualities but he got forward more often that expected.

One run and cross in the first half was begging for a finish and Holloway made a point afterwards of bemoaning a lack of runners into the box.

This was an impressive first outing for Wilkinson – especially given his lack of match fitness – and he can only improve as he settles into his new surroundings.

#2: Chaplow growing into holding midfield role

Richard Chaplow has shown qualities in recent weeks that Millwall fans – and possibly even his own manager – did not expect of him.

Four times this season – against Reading, Derby, Wolves and now Wigan – Chaplow has been asked to sit in front of the back four as the holding midfielder.

Chaplow has typically played further forward during his career. He was predominantly a right winger at Southampton and a playmaker at Burnley.

But if you look back at the 29-year-old's time at West Brom, you'll see that he does actually have a track record of screening the defence.

And with each game that he plays, Chaplow is growing into the same role with the Lions.

He has always looked neat and tidy on the ball and been a good passer, but of late Chaplow has displayed an added bite in the tackle.

At the DW Stadium, he flew into challenges, won the ball back in the middle of the park and pressed high up the field with energy and purpose.

He made more interceptions (six) and tackles (four) than any other player.

Chaplow brings so much more to the side when he gets stuck in. Long may it continue.

#3: McDonald is a changed man this season

This was a forgettable bore draw but Scott McDonald, to his credit, did his best to inject some excitement into the game.

McDonald has played every minute of every Championship game for Millwall this season and he justified his continued selection with another strong performance.

Linking the Lions' midfield and forward lines, the Australian was at the forefront of their best attacking play.

He was particularly effective at turning out of trouble and getting beyond Wigan's four-man midfield with a drop of the shoulder or a change of pace.

But Holloway's side didn't make enough of McDonald's driving runs into the final third – mainly due to the luck of numbers committed forward.

On two occasions he worked an opening for himself, but his first shot was blocked in front of goal and the second was gobbled up by Scott Carson.

What stood out again, though, was McDonald's general demeanour and attitude.

He dropped deep inside his own half to pick up possession when necessary and charged around the midfield as the Lions pressed the ball.

McDonald is doing a lot of selfless work for the team at the moment and individual rewards will undoubtedly follow.

#4: Gregory starved of the ball down the flanks

Lee Gregory managed just 19 touches of the ball last night as he struggled to influence the game from a wide position.

Gregory was a willing runner and did the necessary tracking back down the flanks but, through no fault of his own, he just wasn’t as effective.

After Saturday's draw with Wolves, Holloway wanted to get Gregory and Ricardo Fuller into the same team – but not at the expense of a 4-3-3 formation.

Millwall started with a midfield diamond and two central strikers against Birmingham in September and were woeful, so you can appreciate Holloway's caution away from home.

But while the Lions were extremely solid and hard to break down, they did miss the threat that Gregory poses when he hangs on the shoulder of the last defender.

#5: Ian Holloway: I’m not a cap person!

Millwall's boss donned a smart flat cap on the touchline to shield his head from the biting wind and swirling rain inside the ground.

But he was the first to admit that it wasn't a good look.

He joked: "I do apologise to everybody because this cap doesn’t really suit this face!"

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

32 thoughts on “Five things we learned: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Millwall

  • October 22, 2014 at 15:09
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    Funny how we can learn all these things from all these games yet still can't manage a win.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 15:20
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      @Alan.F: Also funny there is no outstanding canidate for right back among all the players that have been used since Carlos Edwards has been out, he even mention's the CB & team Captain in that statement i.e. not a good enough right back ??.

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  • October 22, 2014 at 15:48
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    I agree with those comments especially in regards to Gregory playing out wide.I can't understand why so many managers including Ollie want to play strickers on the flanks? Would be nice if we played a more simple formation occasionally like 442 with 2 strikers and 2 proper wide men!

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  • October 22, 2014 at 16:16
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    Why have we not learnt anything from the last 35 minutes of the wolves game? As a narrow, fancy-pants diamond formation we look utterly lost in my opinion. We only looked like scoring when we used the wings,and our strikers ( gregory and fuller) were where they should be, in the box. I hate this narrow formation, it's dull and boring. I know 4-3-3 is a bit more cautious away from home, but we should be playing simple football in my opinion.

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  • October 22, 2014 at 16:18
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    Gregory is the best striker we have at the club with so much potential, he should not be left out wide it is a waste. Even Gregory has said he enjoyed playing with Fuller as a front 2. I am hoping that IH didn't play 2 up top last night as it was away but surely he has to play 2 up top Saturday!!

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  • October 22, 2014 at 16:34
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    Five things we learned ? We can't score goals, we are fragile a the back, IH sill can't make his mind up about the best team to play, we are stuck in the bottom half and the prospects do not look good.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 16:41
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      @Peckhamlad: could not have put it better. Ever the pessimist, but am really worried where this team is heading.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 17:58
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      @Peckhamlad: Just about sums it up Peckham.Why can`t he play 2 up front,stop keep tinkering with the team as we are heading down to the drop zone fast.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 20:03
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      Spot on Peckham.
      Ollie has said he will not play 442 so we can only expect more tinkering, more clever formations that do not work and an ever increasing squad of players who are apparently not fit - not fit for what who knows.

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  • October 22, 2014 at 16:47
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    olly appears to be s*** scared of dropping dunne,finds a place for him no matter what, how many on this site would pick him in front of beevers in the centre ?

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    • October 22, 2014 at 17:01
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      @thecolumbusblock: Lets hope Forde don't get injured because he will probably try him between the sticks just to find a place for him.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 18:07
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      @thecolumbusblock: IH made a rod for his own back by making him Captain.Not a great choice if you ask me.

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  • October 22, 2014 at 17:02
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    Don't think IH knows just don't put AD at central back we all said it on here time and time again and Gregory on the right come on you still getting one or two things wrong I don't understand it why did he not play Gregory up top still for got him mate was playing up there it's going to be a long season if he don't get it right sorry but we are only 3 points from the bottom 3 so much for the play offs IH or was that more bull***t IH

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  • October 22, 2014 at 17:15
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    I think we don't have a problem accommodating Gregory & Fuller. The problem up top in my opinion is continuing to play Woolford. His form this season has been shoddy at best.
    Keep Williams out of the back 4 too , he's far too important to play back there.
    Is there not an up and coming Right back in the U21s who is worth a punt ?

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  • October 22, 2014 at 18:42
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    Ollie should play a settled team at 442 Dunney isn't good enough sub at best ...get Martinez fit too.....stop worrying about the opposition Play to score goals

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  • October 22, 2014 at 18:54
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    1 Greggs is mustard so leave him up top,
    2 Pick a team and stick with it
    3 Chaplows getting better in this position
    4 Hoyte has to go now surely???
    5 Good point against Wigan but we really need to pick up wins asap

    If Dunnie is suspended Saturday get Beevers and Webster together and stick with em, Martin played to long last night so will be tired for Cardiff as will Woolie, So yet again it will be changes galore.
    We need a settled side but I don't think Ollie nows his best XI

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    • October 22, 2014 at 20:47
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      @DirtyDen:
      And also wheres Maggie gone and is Martinez ever gonna play???
      Would like to Jack and Aiden back in Saturday, Fullers much better coming off the bench and Jack adds a bit of class to the middle
      COYL

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  • October 22, 2014 at 20:22
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    If IH refuses to play 4-4-2 could he at least comprise by playing 4-1-3-2. This way we can still play with 2 strikers up front and Martin and Woolford as the wide men of the midfield 3. He has so many options to fill the holding midfield and central midfield roles. I would just like to see a settled team and formation barring injuries and suspensions. Dunne for instance isn't considered good enough to play at right back where he has been almost all of his career. When Webster was signed we expected him to be paired with Beevers in central defence but they have not started a single game together. Williams was sign as a central midfield "with a left foot like a wand" but has been played as a left back or a centre back. IH can't decide if Malone or Briggs are a better left back. PLAY WITH 2 STRIKERS AND THE BEST PLAYER FOR EACH POSITION. DON'T CHANGE THE TEAM UNLESS WE HAVE TO AND THE RESULYS WILL IMPROVE!!!!!

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  • October 22, 2014 at 22:18
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    Holloway makes me laugh everytime

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  • October 22, 2014 at 22:20
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    Five things I've learned
    1. Alan Dunne is to blame for our fifth clean sheet this season.
    2. Alan Dunne is to blame for our 30 goal a season signing playing on the wing.
    3. Alan Dunne is to blame for Edwards getting injured and 'unbalancing our back four'.
    4. Alan Dunne is to blame for us failing to score for the fifth game this season.
    5. Alan Dunne is to blame for any goal we concede on Saturday whilst he is suspended.
    Give it a rest everybody, Alan Dunne isn't the reason we are three points off the bottom three.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 23:15
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      @lion.ie: Of course it's not Dunne's fault. It's Shittu's.

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      • October 23, 2014 at 07:38
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        @NICKOLA: Ha ha, old AWOL fifty pence head, now let's discuss the relative passing ability of Shittu and Dunne......(-;#

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    • October 22, 2014 at 23:43
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      @lion.ie: 6) dunne is to blame for the Ebola virus.

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    • October 22, 2014 at 23:52
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      @lion.ie: totally agree, he needs to improve his heading but apart from that he has done ok.

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      • October 23, 2014 at 07:35
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        @glyngo: He's never going to be a top centre-half Glyngo but people seem to expect the new Tony Adams. If people don't think he's good enough that's fine but he doesn't pick the team. We should've bought a new centre-half before we gave Shittu a two year contract, so in that respect it's not all Holloway's fault.

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    • October 23, 2014 at 09:04
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      @lion.ie: Thanks for your input Mrs Dunne. You are proud of your boy I'm sure.

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  • October 23, 2014 at 08:37
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    On Chaplow, is it only me that sees him being a bit lightweight in the challenge??? I was surprised by the stats in the article because I though he held back from a couple of challenges and also got physically bullied. He did ok but he isn't a physical player.

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  • October 23, 2014 at 08:43
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    lion.ie says,
    Do you not feel hard dun by then?

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  • October 23, 2014 at 09:08
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    Let's hope all this is now Dunne and Dusted!

    How about a cheeky loan move for Balotelli?

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  • October 24, 2014 at 00:55
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    forde.williamson.webster.beevers.briggs upson.chaplow.williams.malone/martin macdonald.gregory.

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