Napoli look woeful going into the Winter Break

My immediate reactions following today's match at Sassuolo.

  1. The defense is disorganized without Koulibaly. If his injury is long-term, or he leaves in the January window, then this side might not even finish in the top half of the table. The one-on-one defending is this game was pathetic and Sassuolo could have been up by multiple goals before the hour mark.
  2. The opposition game plan must simply be to put pressure on the back four and have them cough up the ball. It's clear that they can be unnerved early on.
  3. Allan is simply being asked to do too much. He does have a talent going forward as we saw with his goal today, but he's required to shield the defense. Bringing in another midfielder would be great but there are financial issues that would require the team to sell some talent in order to buy.

According to, Napoli should be a little higher up the table, sitting in 6th place rather than 8th. Based on Expected Goals, both Cagliari and Parma are both overachieving by a considerable amount. Despite this, I think it'd be foolish to expect the club to get into the Champions League places, especially considering they're already 11 points behind. With that said, it might be time to turn over to the youth, particularly getting Lozano and Elmas lots of starts/quality minutes.

I haven't been particularly impressed with Gattuso at his past coaching spots, so it will be interesting to see how he does with this club. It's clear the identify of this squad is a 4-3-3, but can he push them to develop a backup plan that can strengthen the side defensively?

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