Udinese’s search for a first Serie A win of the season sees them take a daunting trip to San Siro on Saturday night, as they face an AC Milan side desperate to keep pace with city rivals Inter.
The home team will be relieved to face a team without a win after gruelling fixtures against Juventus, PSG and Napoli, a three-game run that yielded just a solitary point.
The visitors represent ideal opponents for Milan to regain momentum after picking up just seven points from their first 10 Serie A games. Remarkably, they have come from seven draws, with five in as many games since their last defeat in the competition in September.
Udinese manager Gabriele Cioffi changed his entire starting XI for Wednesday’s Coppa Italia defeat to Cagliari, and such a result is likely to see him revert back to his previous team, which has proven a tough nut to crack of late.
Gerard Deulofeu has been out long-term through injury and will miss out on a reunion with his old side on Saturday, while Enzo Ebosse, Kingsley Ehizibue, Keinan Davis and Brenner also remain absent.
Stefano Pioli may opt to make changes ahead of a crucial Champions League clash against PSG on Tuesday, where anything but a positive result could bring about a premature end to their time in the competition.
The Italian can call on the services of Ruben Loftus-Cheek for the first time in over a month, though, with the English midfielder set for a spot on the bench.
Another ex-Chelsea player, Christian Pulisic, is less likely to be seen in the squad after the American was substituted at half-time against Napoli last Sunday.
Question marks remain over the availability of Simon Kjaer and Samuel Chukwueze, with Luka Romero and Noah Okafor options to replace Pulisic in the Milan attack.
Milan are 4/9 to get back on the winning trail while Udinese are priced at 13/2 to win at the 11th attempt in Serie A.
For those backing the draw specialists to do their thing again, it’s 10/3.
AC Milan under 1.5 goals @ 11/8
The expected absence of Pulisic further blunts a Milan attack that is already piling a lot of pressure on 37-year-old Olivier Giroud.
The French striker has scored a third of their league goals this season, including two at Napoli last time out, and is rarely rested by Pioli.
But with Tuesday in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some rotation.
Okafor has scored twice since joining in the summer but Jovic, Romero and Chukwueze are all still waiting for their first goals in Red and Black, while Rafael Leao is on a nine-game barren run for club and country.
Milan have failed to score in two of their last four homes games – albeit against Newcastle United and Juventus – and managed only one against strugglers Verona.
Udinese aren’t an easy side to break down either, despite their struggles this season, letting in just six goals in five away games, four of which were at the hands of reigning champions Napoli.
If you want to get onside with history, this bet has won in five of the last eight at San Siro.
Half-time correct score 0-0 @ 2/1
Slow starts have been an all-too frequent occurrence for Milan at home this season.
In five games at San Siro – discounting the ‘away’ clash with Inter – the Rossoneri have failed to score a first-half goal in three, while Torino’s Perr Schuurs remains the only opposition player to score in the opening 45 (plus) minutes.
Udinese tend to keep it tight, too, keeping six first-half clean sheets this season.
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