Saturday, November 17, 2018

Prediction: Napoli vs Empoli

Verdict: Napoli to score over 3.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 11/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

Friday’s action in the Italian Serie A will begin with a clash between two un-balanced teams, as Napoli will host Empoli at Stadio San Paolo. The hosts remain firmly entrenched at the top of the Serie A standings, while Empoli have struggled badly in their return to Italy’s top-flight and look like one of the premier candidates to get relegated once the current campaign ends.

Napoli

Napoli might have secured nothing more than a draw in their previous Serie A home match (1-1 vs AS Roma) but there is no doubt that the Pertenopei side have looked impressive in the early going this season. Despite sitting six points behind league-leaders Juventus with 22 points (W7, D1, L2), Carlo Ancelotti’s men have the best home side in the Serie A during the current term. They have gone undefeated in five matches (W4, D1, 13 pts) and have already scored 10 goals at home, while conceding only three. They enter this game going undefeated in each of their last three home matches vs Empoli, a span where they have clinched two wins and one draw. Can they get back to winning ways, knowing that the three points would push them closer to the top of the standings?

Team News

Napoli will have a decent amount of absences ahead of this game, as Vlad Chiriches (knee) and Simone Verdi (groin) have both been ruled out.

Amin Younes (Achilles) is doubtful but unlikely to play. And both Marko Rog (foot) and Sebastiano Luperto (illness) will be game-time decisions.

Empoli

On the other hand, Empoli have struggled in their return to Serie A action following their Serie B promotion from last season. They are going on a four-game winless run (D1, L3) and they currently sit in 17th place with only four points, two above the red zone but six behind the European spots. The standings are quite tight at the moment so a good run of results could potentially lift Empoli to a better position in the standings, but their recent results and their overall play during the current term say otherwise. To make matters even more complicated, they have defeated Napoli just twice in their last eight Serie A meetings (W2, D3, L3) but have lost each of their past three, while going 10 straight games without a win this season (D4, L6). That’s not the form any team would want heading into this tie.

Team News

Empoli won’t have Lorenzo Polvani due to a knee problem.

Frederic Veseli (muscle) and Alejandro Rodriguez (knee) have been listed as doubtful. Both will require late-fitness tests to determine their availability.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Goals galore? The last seven Serie A meetings between these two sides have produced an average of 4.43 goals per game.
  • Empoli have netted an average of 1.5 goals per match on their last four visits here.
  • Overall, Napoli have conceded the opener in four of their 13 competitive matches so far. 46% of those 13 fixtures have seen both teams score.
  • There have been over 2.5 goals scored in four of their last five H2H matches. Napoli are undefeated in those games, with four wins and one draw.
  • Napoli have not lost in their last 11 home matches across all competitions, dating back to March 2018.

Conclusion

Napoli are yet to lose at home this season, while Empoli have struggled in their return to Serie A action. As if that wasn’t enough, the past few games between these two sides have always featured lots of goals.

Expect Napoli’s attacking line to shine. Therefore, I believe they will end up scoring over AT LEAST four goals.

Verdict: Napoli to score over 3.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 11/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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