GARY Rowett is demanding his Millwall side match their performances against the top sides in the division when they face Luton at The Den on New Year’s Day.
Millwall have beaten six of the 10 sides above them in the league, but only three of the 13 sides below them. Luton are second-last in the table.
The Lions drew 1-1 at Luton in Neil Harris’ last match in charge in October.
“I think the key is to have the same mentality,” Rowett said. “I know people look at the league table and then they somehow think it’s going to be an easier game, but it never works like that in the Championship. The bottom team can beat the top team and anyone can beat anyone else on any given day.
“The challenge for us, and I don’t think the players take anyone lightly, is when there’s a bit more expectation on the game we don’t quite have the same mentality. That’s the key.
“I’m really looking forward to the game because the challenge is probably going to be an even bigger one. We knew what Brentford were going to do, they were going to come and attack and move the ball. You can prepare in a very simple way for it, and whether it works is another matter.
“But Luton are probably going to be a little bit more unpredictable. They played a diamond [in midfield] for a long time but have gone a bit away from that, played a 4-3-3 in the last game.
“It’s something we’re going to have to be aware of, that they might try and stifle the game or they might come and move the ball expansively. They move the ball really well, they’ve done that for the last two or three years.
“I don’t think there’s one key thing. We just have to run with the same intensity, play with the same energy as we do against the bigger teams. It’s the teams above you and in the top six that if you don’t do that you know you’re going to get turned over.
“We have to have that same mentality in every single game. In fairness to the players, we lost the Barnsley game and we’ve had two defeats, that was a last-minute defeat when we shouldn’t have lost the game.
“We’ve lost two games in 12 so it’s not really a recurring theme under us [losing against lower sides], but nevertheless it’s something we’ve got to guard against.”
Luton haven’t won in five games. The Hatters have the worst defence in the division, having conceded 53 goals in 25 games.
Possible Millwall team: 5-2-3: Bialkowski; Romeo, Hutchinson, Pearce, Cooper, M Wallace; Molumby, Williams; J Wallace, Bradshaw, O’Brien.
Match odds: Millwall 4/7 Draw 3/1 Luton 4/1
Last meeting: Championship (October 2, 2019): Luton 1-1 Millwall (McManaman 86; Bradshaw 60).
Image: Millwall FC