by LIAM RICHNER
With Napoli and Roma already playing catch up, neither side can afford to lose this weekend when the two square off at the Stadio San Paulo.
The Partenopei suffered their first defeat of the season away at Atalanta before the international break, but have an 100% record at home.
In contrast Roma have failed to win a single game on the road, scoring just three goals away from the capital.
Despite the form books, Napoli have already been handed a hefty blow, with star striker Arkadiusz Milik injured for the next six months.
The 22-year old raptured his ACL and will be more than likely replaced in the side by Manolo Gabbiadini.
Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri could also be without main central defender Raul Albiol, but other than that will have a full squad to choose from as he looks to defeat Roma as a manager for the first time in his career (drawn 2, Lost 3).
Luciano Spalletti’s Giallorossi will be looking to win back to back home games for the first time this campaign, with the travelling side looking for some sort of consistency.
Despite a well-earned and hard fought victory over an ever-improving Inter Milan side last time out, fans are still unsure about the 4-3-3 formation used by Spalletti.
Mohammed Salah and Diego Perotti are already being targeted for not being clinical enough in front of goal, despite Roma being the league’s top scorers.
A fully-fit Kevin Strootman alongside Daniele de Rossi could prove pivotal as they look to stop the in-form Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne.
Roma fans based in the capital city have been barred from attending due to recent violence between the two sets of supporters, so the atmosphere at the stadium could have a huge impact on the outcome.
Elsewhere, Luigi Delneri faces a tough start as Udinese manager away at Champions Juventus.
Delneri replaces Beppe Iachini at the Zebrette, with the team dangerously close to the bottom three.
The retirement of Antonio Di Natale has been a massive factor in Udinese’s struggles to score goals, with the Italian legend not being replaced in the summer.
Their current main striker, Duvan Zapata, could be recalled by parent club Napoli following the injury to Milik, furthering the goalscoring problem even further.
Juventus have won three on the bounce and will welcome the pleasant news that Claudio Marchisio has now returned from a six-month lay off.
The Italian midfielder played in a friendly on Wednesday will hope to be considered by Maximiliano Allegri this weekend.
Chievo v Milan
Fiorentina v Atalanta
Genoa v Empoli
Inter v Cagliari
Lazio v Bologna
Palermo v Torino
Pescara v Sampdoria
Sassuolo v Crotone