Monthly Archive: September 2018

Week 7: Sassuolo – Milan

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Week 6’s result was even more underwhelming than the week 5 1-1 tie vs Cagliari. A team without the injured Higuain managed to strike early via a Biglia strike, deflected and awarded as an Leonardo Capezzi own goal. However the team faded soon after and allowed the promoted team to tie it in the second. Borini replacing the aforementioned Argentine was mostly invisible. A not fully fit Cutrone came in and unsurprisingly was unable to drag the team out of another tie. Perhaps just as disappointing was  that a Romagnoli giveaway and mistake led to Empoli’s goal.

To make matters worse and pile on even more pressure on the deservedly criticized Gattuso, the team is still handcuffed by the lack of depth at center forward. Higuain is still not available and neither Cutrone nor Borini is fully fit. Winger Castillejo seems set to play up front as the cliched false 9.

The back will feature more or less the same four with the alternating Abate or Calabria the only unknowns. Laxalt may play in Rodriguez’s spot too but that seems less likely at Sassuolo. The mid three are very predictable at this point and barring a relatively big change of heart Gattuso is proving himself stubborn.

Calhanoglu’s poor form has been one factor in the poor start. Suso has shown flashes but the offensive unit as a whole is not functioning at all. Gattuso may not lead the team for too much longer if immediate improvements don’t come. Facing Sassuolo – led by Kevin Prince Boateng – who are a surprising third before week 7’s matches will present one other challenge for this fragile Milan.

Week 6: Empoli – Milan

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Another slew of missed chances and another two points dropped. Twice leading but getting only one point against Atalanata at home is a poor and costly result. Fingers are starting to point at Gattuso and whether or not that is fair where the players were the ones missing chances is up for debate. What is not up for debate is that the team still lacks in many areas and the coach does have responsilbilty in trying to change things up and find solutions.

A visit to Empoli for a mid week game provides an opportunity for a changed 11. A number of injuries are not helping but changes have and need to be made to get back to winning ways.  For this game however, Milan’s star and best player is being kept at home as a precaution. Higuain is back in Milan and Cutrone is still not 100% fit so it seems we are left with Borini as a starter, in an advanced or more withdrawn so called false 9 role. The other anticipated change is the use of Abate in Calabria’s place. This change is not a positive one as Abate showed when he came as a sub vs Atalanta. As there is no word that Calabria is unable to start or play this rotation might be a negative one.

Elsewhere on the pitch the usual starters are very likely to keep their place. Empoli have 1 win in 5 games, three points are a must.

Week 5: Milan – Atalanta

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Week four away at Cagliari was an underwhelming match, Milan started very poorly and the team was punished as early as the 4th minute. The team gradually improved but a second half Higuain goal was to be a consolation only. Dropping points like this will soon add up and a top 4 and Champions League place can fade quickly.

Atalanta provide the second home opposition of the season and the Bergamo club have had an indifferent start to the season as well.

The line ups used this season, except for the Europa League opener midweek, have been too close to last season’s and this seems to be norm for now. Higuain and either one of Caldara or Musacchio remain the only changes from the regular 2017-2018 team. Big changes didn’t provide a big spark vs Dudelange and it was left to a partially deflected Higuain goal to get the three points. These two matches were further evidence that Gattuso still has a lot of work to do to create a new team or gel the players into a top Serie A or Europa League team.

Cutrone will still miss this game and the short term knock is taking a few more days than expected. Mauri and Bertolacci underwhelmed versus the Luxembourg team and do not look like players capable of adding quality depth for the midfield. The team will require the best from the starters. Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura and perhaps even more so Bakayoko need to have great seasons. Suso and Calhanoglu need to be pushed by Halilovic and Castillejo and perform as well and better than last season.

Caldara is set to miss week five with what is described as a muscular issue so the defense pairing with Musacchio and Romagnoli is again predictable.

Week 4: Cagliari- Milan

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The last minute Cutrone goal vs Roma for the 2-1 win enhanced the team’s outlook somewhat and the team entered the international break with some more optimism. The new new era is moving along with more financial stability and the hope is that results on the pitch will follow the same trajectory of the 2017-2018 season and Gattuso’s time as coach in particular.

There are reasons to question the state of the team and to be cautious. The biggest of those reasons are that, at least for now, the team is barely changed. Of the eight summer arrivals only Higuain has a regular spot. As mentioned, the team did well under Gattuso last season but does one change, as important as it is, make a whole lot of difference? No one would compare Kalinic to Higuain but the rest of the new comers must be integrated into the starting 11 sooner rather than later.

The back four will likely be Calabria, Romagnoli, Musacchio and Rodriguez with Kessie, Biglia and Bonaventura in the middle, Suso, Calhanoglu and Higuain will complete the 4-3-3. Cutrone is out with a knock but it is thought to  be very short term and he could be available as early as the midweek Europa League opener at F91 Dudelange in Luxembourg.