by LIAM RICHNER
It’s been a difficult last few weeks for Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli, having only won two of their last seven matches in all competitions.
The ACL injury picked up by main striker Arkadiusz Milik last month has taken its toll on the Partenopei, with goals becoming hard to come by.
A false nine has been put in place for recent matches, with either Dries Mertens or Napoli’s top goalscorer Jose Callejon playing in a more central position. However, this hasn’t solved their forward crisis.
Manolo Gabbiadini returns from his domestic two-match ban this weekend, but his performance in the Champions League in midweek was less than convincing.
The side’s dip in form has also coincided with Marek Hamsik’s poor performances.
Slovakia’s captain has not been as influential in the centre of the park as at the start of the campaign.
Napoli are now fifth in the table, and seven points behind leaders Juventus. But a win against fourth-placed Lazio could propel the team back into the Champions League places.
Although that could be easier said than done.
Lazio are in red-hot form, winning four of their last six matches. They are unbeaten in that time, and have Ciro Immobile finding the net for fun.
We haven’t seen the 26-year old in such tantalising form since his Torino days, and many will punt on him adding to his nine goals already this season at the Stadio San Paolo.
The only downside for the visitors is the absence of centre back Stefan de Vrij. The Dutchman has been a rock in the heart of Simone Inzaghi’s defence this campaign.
Despite their good run of form, Lazio are yet to win a match against a top half side this season, and were spanked 5-0 in the corresponding fixture last season so the stats are not in their favour.
One things for certain, expect plenty of goals. The last six Serie A meetings between these sides has provided 26 of them!
Elsewhere, there is a potential thriller on the cards as Torino face Cagliari.
Andrea Belotti, Marco Benassi and Daniele Baselli have all made a huge claim to be named in the Italy squad following their impressive performances for Toro recently.
Adem Ljajic has also hit a purple patch. The 25-year old Serbian winger is creating and scoring vital goals for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side.
Cagliari have surprised many this season for their attacking mentality, and could continue to challenge for a possible European place towards the end of the season.
They are currently in ninth place, but two wins would see them rise as high as third is results went their way.
When you look at the head-to-head records, the Rossoblu haven’t beaten Torino in three years, and with Toro not winning any of their last three games, a draw could be the most likely result here.
Chievo v Juventus
Fiorentina v Sampdoria
Genoa v Udinese
Inter v Crotone
Palermo v Milan
Pescara v Empoli
Roma v Bologna
Sassuolo v Atalanta