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Oct 3, 2021 at 5pm UK
Pellegrini (42'), Mkhitaryan (48')
Mancini (57'), Zaniolo (85')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Ricci (46'), Haas (56'), Stojanovic (90+1')

Preview: Roma vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Roma vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Roma and Empoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Seeking to overcome derby defeat last time out in the league, Roma welcome promoted Empoli to Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

While the Giallorossi were able to bounce back from their loss to Lazio with a Europa Conference League win in midweek, they will be wary of their visitors, who have just posted successive victories and previously overturned Juventus.

Match preview

A 3-0 victory at Zorya in Ukraine proved an immediate riposte to critics in the aftermath of Roma's defeat in the Derby della Capitale, but even coach Jose Mourinho will be aware that more of the same is required to salve their wounded pride.

Their 3-2 Serie A defeat to Roman rivals Lazio leaves the Giallorossi trailing the Milan clubs and imperious Napoli in the early standings, plus leaves a bitter taste in the mouth just ahead of the next international break.

After over a year of absence, the 'Eternal City' clash was contested in front of passionate fans rather than the echoing Olimpico of recent times. Billed as a battle between Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri, the Derby was essentially decided by an early two-goal salvo from Lazio, which gave them a lead they would never relinquish despite goals from Roger Ibanez and Jordan Veretout, from the spot, twice pulling Roma back into contention.

Having since won in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, they now seek to continue their winning streak as the home side to six consecutive games. In fact, the last time they managed such a feat in Serie A was in February 2017, under current Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti, who went on to post a remarkable run of 15 in all.

Not only that, but Mourinho is also unbeaten in his last 41 home matches in the Italian top flight - the joint-longest such streak since the turn of the century, level with Max Allegri - making Roma firm favourites to once again take maximum points at the Olimpico.

Since suffering two consecutive home defeats in mid-September, Empoli ended the month on a high, having recently picked up six points from a possible six in their quest to retain Serie A status next May.

Promoted as second-tier champions in the summer, the Tuscan outfit have already proven their ability to menace defences throughout the division, and have netted six times in their last two fixtures.

Both games resulted in wins for the team coached by Aurelio Andreazzoli, with a 2-0 success at Cagliari being followed up last week by an incident-packed 4-2 victory over Bologna at home.

In-form Bologna were brought back down to earth by Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani, as the hosts led within the opening minute through a Kevin Bonifazi own goal - with playmaking star Nedim Bajrami among the others on target for Andreazzoli's side.

Not exactly fondly remembered for his spell in charge of Roma back in the 2012-13 season - his first spell as a manager in Serie A - the Empoli coach can call upon several attacking options that will make his men a threat throughout the campaign.

One such forward, Inter loanee Andrea Pinamonti - who was also on target last Sunday - has scored twice in his last three appearances against Roma and his presence gives the Azzurri hope of pulling off another upset to match their defeat of Juventus earlier this term.

Roma Serie A form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Roma form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W

Empoli Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Empoli form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Jose Mourinho is poised to revert to a more familiar starting lineup on Sunday, having rotated his resources in Ukraine just three days ahead of the game.

Marash Kumbulla, Ebrima Darboe - who impressed his manager with a strong shift in midfield - and Carles Perez are among those set to be benched, with Gianluca Mancini, Jordan Veretout and Tammy Abraham all likely to be returned to the XI.

In support of Abraham up front, Stephan El Shaarawy will hope to retain his spot alongside Nicolo Zaniolo and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Only long-term injury absentee Leonardo Spinazzola is set to miss out entirely for Roma, with captain Lorenzo Pellegrini back from the suspension which ruled him out of the Rome Derby.

Meanwhile, Empoli are once again expected to be without defenders Lorenzo Tonelli (knee) and Riccardo Fiamozzi (muscular) due to injury, but have no other major issues so may name an unchanged side from that which beat Bologna.

Former Celtic midfielder Liam Henderson - who became the first Scotsman to play in Serie A since Graeme Souness when previously featuring for the Tuscan club on loan - will start in a central diamond tipped by the influential Nedim Bajrami.

Up front, Andrea Pinamonti should join either Federico Di Francesco or Patrick Cutrone in the forward pairing.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina; Cristante, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Abraham

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, Romagnoli, Viti, Marchizza; Haas, Ricci, Bandinelli; Bajrami; Pinamonti, Di Francesco

We say: Roma 2-1 Empoli

Having shown signs of defensive fragility in the past couple of weeks, Roma are certainly vulnerable to the enterprising approach of an Empoli side full of confidence - and with nothing much to lose.

Therefore, Mourinho's men will have to battle for the three points, but can scrape home due to a potentially decisive array of options in the final third.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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