Empoli vs Roma predictions: Visitors may need to be patient
Roma had high hopes for the 2022-23 season following the signing of Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but after picking up ten points from a possible 12 to start the Serie A campaign, Jose Mourinho's men have hit the buffers with back-to-back defeats.
The Giallorossi were hammered 4-0 at Udinese a week ago and the mood only worsened in the Eternal City in midweek as last year's Europa Conference League winners began their 2022-23 Europa League campaign with a 2-1 away loss to Ludogorets.
Roma's next Serie A test comes in the form of a trip to Stadio Carlo Castellani, home of an Empoli team who are winless this season having drawn four straight matches since losing their league opener against Spezia.
Empoli have held Fiorentina and Verona to slatemates at the Carlo Castellani, and given the nature of the hosts' performances so far this season, the onus is likely to be on Roma to make things happen.
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Empoli remain without veteran centre-half Lorenzo Tonelli and attacking midfielder Tommaso Baldanzi while strikers Mattia Destro and Nicolo Cambiaghi are also expected to miss out.
Sam Lammers and Martin Satriano will be expected to lead the line for the hosts with Marko Pjaca a prime candidate to play behind the front pair in Paolo Zanetti's preferred 4-3-1-2 formation.
Roma should welcome back England's Tammy Abraham, who was absent in midweek with a shoulder injury. Marash Kumbulla, Stephan El Shaaraway and Georginio Wijnaldum are all out. Mourinho had hoped that Italian international Nicolo Zaniolo would be fit but this clash looks as if it will come too soon.
Fellow Azzurri star Leonardo Spinazzola should return after he missed out against Ludogorets.
Roma began their season with back-to-back 1-0 wins over Salernitana and Cremonese but those triumphs might've been more comprehensive as they dominated the shot-on-target count on both occasions (5-2 and 12-3).
There was little between the Giallorossi and Juventus in their 1-1 draw and Dybala finally found his shooting boots in Roma's following match, striking twice in the 3-0 victory over Monzo. In Dybala and Abraham, Mourinho possesses two potent weapons who have combined for 15 shots on target this season - a tally unmatched by any other Serie A striking duo.
However, they have only scored three goals between them and they might not get too many opportunities against Empoli, who have conceded just five goals this term and went into the sixth round of fixtures with the sixth-lowest expected goals-against figure in Serie A (4.87).
Roma have, however, largely dominated this fixture, winning their last five meetings with Empoli including a 4-2 victory in January where Abraham was on the mark twice.
Roma will be expected to return to winning ways at the Carlo Castellani but they are difficult to trust after a couple of knocks to their confidence.
Empoli are organised in defence and likely content just to keep their visitors at bay, so they are hardly dream opponents for a team who have struggled for cutting edge at times.
Roma are the likely winners, but Empoli have not been behind at half-time in any of their last four Serie A encounters and Roma may require patience if they are to claim three points. It would come as no surprise were Mourinho's men to nudge ahead after the break.