Jan 282018
 

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The week 21 2-1 win at Cagliari was and can be seen as a positive. The performance seemed more cohesive and determined and it was a come from behind win, the first in a long time. There was controversy with referee judgements and two red cards, one for each team, plus offside and penalty questions didn’t make for the most enjoyable of games. A win however was deserved. It was mildly surprising to see Kessie as the penalty taker when Kalinic was brought down. The Ivory Coast midfielder added a second minutes later.

Lazio will provide a stern test for week 22, the now third placed team won their delayed week 12 game – 3-0 vs Udinese –  this past midweek without Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile. The current top scorer/Capocannoniere with 20 goals was injured last weekend in the 5-1 win vs Chievo. He is doubt for the Milan match as well.

For better or for worse the Milan lineup is settled for now and minus injuries the Serie A line up is unlikely to change in the near term. Rodriguez’s red means he is suspended for this match and his places will go to either Antonelli or Calabria with Abate filling the full back roles. Romagnoli and Bonucci will start in the middle of defense. The middle will remain Kessie, Biglia and Bonaventura. The front three will feature Calhanoglu, Suso and Cutrone. Kalinic was due to start but is a major doubt after a late week training injury, although he is still available if needed. Gattuso has mentioned that Silva and Cutrone will get (more) chances to play with the upcoming schedule of Coppa and Europe League games. The first of those will be a Lazio rematch on January 31st.

Jan 212018
 

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The second half of the season started with a 1-0 win vs Crotone with Bonucci scoring his first Milan goal. The Serie A break followed, this time in January instead of late December, with most of the news and rumours still surrounding the ownership and the legalities of the sale last April.

The other aspect of the news have been the team’s January window transfer plans. There has been an insistence that there would be no incoming players and minimal out going in an effort to build on the team as it is. The saga of some players, notably Andre Silva, not getting minutes has created a story line for rumour writers but it seems likely that he and all other summer 2017 signings will stay Milan players for now.

The aforementioned Portuguese forward was not even a playing sub against Crotone. When Cutrone was withdrawn two weeks ago Kalinic – only just back after having his ankle damaged by Inter’s Milan Skriniar – was preferred to Silva. He is also unlikely to take part in this week 21 match as well. Kalinic, Suso and Calhanoglu are the likely front three. The middle three will see Biglia in the middle, Montolivo is unlikely to start. Kessie and Bonaventura will flank the Argentinian. The back four is more or less settled with Abate (or Calabria) lining up with Bonucci, Romagnoli  and Rodriguez.

The host’s feature Leonardo Pavoletti as their joint top scorer – with Joao Pedro. The latter scored against Milan back in week 2 but is suspended and therefore it is up to the former and Marco Sau to lead the Sardinians.

Jan 132018
 

The Serie A break is here and this time the break is January of course, and 20 games of the 2017-2018 season have been played. A lot has been said and written about Milan’s poor form and the team being way off even last season’s pace and all that after spending over €200 million in the summer.

A major talking point this season has been rotation and choice of players, Montella was criticized for not settling on a team, never able or willing to use the same 11.

Gattuso’s start on the bench has been almost as questionable though hints of more stability are emerging as players like Cutrone prove themselves more every time they play.

A more specific question is the minutes Kalinic gets vs those Andre Silva gets. The former was brought into the team primarily on the insistence of Montella and the latter was one of the major purchases of the summer and one thought to be a very bright prospect. €20 million and €38 million respectively were spent on the then 29 and 21 years old players. Soon after the season started the two players took different paths when it came to their place on the team. Andre Silva found himself restricted to European dates and virtually shut out of the Serie A where Kalinic and Cutrone were always preferred. Andre Silva became one of the players of the Europa League group stage with 6 goals but seemed to be always on the bench even when Kalinic who was picked ahead of him struggled to score and finish. When two successive coaches have left the Portuguese on the bench questions about the player himself are normal. Is it a case of easing in a young player into a new league and country or is there more to the story? There is for example video footage of Andre Silva seemingly distant from the team at the end of the week 20 win vs Crotone.

The two forwards are not the only players whose names have stirred debate  when it comes to minutes played. Mateo Musacchio is another. The Argentine defender was the first signing of the summer but is often on the bench especially when a back four is used, he is sometimes even behind Zapata in the pecking order, where Bonucci and Romagnoli are getting the most minutes.

Locatelli is too. The young Italian midfielder has been nowhere near first choice and Montolivo and Biglia both of whom have also struggled are picked ahead of him, so much so that there is talk of Locatelli being loaned out.

Who deserves more playing time?

View Results

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Andre Silva
Games ~ Minutes ~ Goals ~ Assists
Europa League 6 ~ 495 ~ 6 ~ 0
Serie A 4(8) ~ 534 ~ 0 ~ 0
Nikola Kalinic
Games ~ Minutes ~ Goals ~ Assists
Europa League 1(2) ~ 99 ~ 0 ~ 1
Serie A 14(3) ~ 1185 ~ 4 ~ 1
Mateo Musacchio
Games ~ Minutes ~ Goals ~ Assists
Europa League 4(1) ~ 376 ~ 1 ~ 0
Serie A 11 ~ 990 ~ 0 ~ 0
Manuel Locatelli
Games ~ Minutes ~ Goals ~ Assists
Europa League 4(1) ~ 353 ~ 0 ~ 0
Serie A 2(9) ~ 295 ~ 0 ~ 0
Jan 062018
 

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A relatively positive result, a come from behind 1-1 draw at Fiorentina, ended the first half of a very disappointing season. The draw came after beating Inter in the Coppa Italia following which the expectations were immediately heightened. The draw was not exactly a high quality performance but the result is at least something to build on.

Crotone were beaten 3-0 on match day one in what seems ages ago, Kessie, Cutrone and Suso opened the season in good style back in August, another win is pretty much mandatory against a team that has won only once away from home so far this season.

A lot has changed since August of course and with a team in crisis on and off the pitch and the now traditional poor showing against lowly teams the 11 that start have lots to do. Up front Cutrone, Calhanoglu and Suso are probably the best available though this writer still thinks that if Andre Silva is given more starts will start to deliver. Instead the Portuguese and a few other players are subject to – halfhearted and likely made up – exit rumours. The likes of Gomez and Paletta are primary candidates to leave this January but Silva and Musacchio’s names have been mentioned too. Kalinic’s name has surfaced in relation to the Chinese league as well.

Gigio Donnarumma will start and in front of him the four includes Calabria – while Abate is out injured – Bnucci, Romagnoli and Rodriguez. Kessie and Bonaventura will flank Montolivo in midfield.  Locatelli perhaps deserves more playing time but form, confidence and coach’s trust are perhaps not on his side. Up front the aforementioned front three need to conquer a defense that includes Arlind Ajeti and Federico Ceccherini and one that has conceded 24 goals in 9 away games.

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