EUROPEAN football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Monday night’s Serie A fixture between Napoli and Sassuolo.
Napoli v Sassuolo | Monday 18:00 | BT Sport 1
Napoli racked up 80 goals during Mauricio Sarri’s first campaign in charge but following the record sale of Gonzalo Higuain in the summer, many Partenopei supporters questioned where the goals would come from in 2016/17.
Poland’s Euro 2016 flop Arkadiusz Milik was signed in a big-money deal. The ex-Ajax hitman flourished in the Eredivisie and put his poor summer behind him as he notched seven times in nine games across all competitions before a season-ending injury.
Napoli not as fluent in the final third
Normally so fearsome on the front-foot, Napoli have since regressed in the final third with Sarri far from keen on Manolo Gabbiadini and false-nine forward Dries Mertens struggling to carry the full goalscoring burden on his shoulders.
The Partenopei did claim maximum points in Udinese last weekend but a disappointing goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev in midweek left supporters frustrated with Mertens and Gabbiadini now managing just three goals between them since Milik’s injury.
The hosts had started the season with W6-D2-L0 but with goals not quite as fluent and a defence that’s barely impressed all season, results have suffered – Monday night’s hosts have W3-D3-L4 in their past 10 outings and kept only five clean sheets in 18 outings across all competitions.
Visitors Sassuolo arrive in awful form. The Neroverdi have lost each of their last four league fixtures and have W1-D3-L7 since late September in all as they’ve struggled with injuries, particularly those of star striker Domenico Berardi and midfield mystros Alfred Duncan.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s small squad have struggled to handle two competitions and have already suffered Europa League elimination, whilst slipping to 16th in Italy’s top-tier. But goals have been regular for the visitors.
Goals, goals, goals
The Neroverdi have played 22 matches in 2016/17 and scored in 21 of those – it’s Sassuolo’s wretched defensive record that’s cost them with the visitors conceding at least twice in nine of their past 14 fixtures.
Di Francesco’s men have suffered defeat in eight of their last 10 at top-six clubs and although another loss looms, there’s little value to be had in backing Napoli in their current state. So instead, support goals at the San Paolo.
Back Both Teams To Score
Napoli have scored in all bar one of their home league games under Sarri with 15/25 (60%) leading to winning Both Teams To Score selections. As already mentioned, the home side have kept only five shutouts in 18 this term, which tallies nicely with Sassuolo’s goalscoring record.
For what it’s worth, the Neroverdi have only fired blanks in 10/51 (20%) of their away Serie A days under Di Francesco with a bulbous 31/51 (61%) paying-out to BTTS backers. A repeat on Monday night is a very generous 19/20 (888).
Napoli v Sassuolo – Both Teams To Score (19/20 888)