Yet another underwhelming and disappointing result for the Rossoneri when they drew against Empoli at Stadio Carlo Castellani on Thursday evening. These are the five things we learned from the game.
1. Make Tsadjout the third striker
Fabio Borini is not capable of being the third choice striker for the Rossoneri. The former Liverpool man did essentially nothing right on the ball throughout his entire time on the pitch against Empoli. Failed dribble attempts, didn’t make the right passes, messed up the hold-up play and missed the chances he got served.
There are few players in modern football who are better professionals than Fabio Borini, especially in terms of work ethic. However, at some point, you have to look past that when nothing gets done right on the pitch. Gattuso should be willing to make Frank Tsadjout from the Primavera the third striker. The experience may not be there, but the 19-year-old has scored 17 goals in 39 games as a striker in the Primavera – and everyone is new and inexperienced at some point.
2. Laxalt Impressive
Diego Laxalt is a very nice alternative for the left-back position and Ricardo Rodriguez. The Uruguayan had a pleasing performance on Thursday evening, as offensively it is an upgrade compared to Ricardo Rodriguez. However, defensively, he didn’t look as solid during the build-up play.
Personally, I was impressed with the work ethic of Laxalt. He worked tirelessly up and down the left side and was very fiery in the 1v1 duels with his opponents. Milan have seemingly made a great catch managing to acquire him this summer. A good option for LB and LW both short-term and long-term. The price must be considered as reasonable as well, given the nice season he had last year and the World Cup he made for Uruguay this summer.
3. The pattern of not being able to close games
Yet again, the ability and capability to close games seemed to be non-existent in this squad. For the majority of the game, Milan had Empoli where they wanted them, and comfortably so. Dominated possession, created chances and made Empoli unmotivated.
However, Milan still invited Empoli back into the game with a defensive error which ended up in a penalty and the equaliser. When discussing the issues Milan are facing as of now, closing games must be considered amongst the top of the list, if not at the top.
4. The approach was wrong
Gattuso can’t be blamed for the goal conceded. In no way could he prevent Romagnoli from making that mistake, and in no way could he affect the chances the team missed which possibly ended up costing the team the victory. However, he failed to set the right approach heading into this game. In the first half, Empoli were allowed too much possession and time on the ball.
They looked like the superior team for periods and Milan seemed to sit back and look for counters to capitalise on. This is not an acceptable approach when a club with the magnitude and dignity of Milan face a side of Empoli’s calibre. The mentality must be to go out on the field looking to blow Empoli out of the water. Simple as that.
5. Caldara is needed
Musacchio and Romagnoli have done well throughout the start of this season individually, but the chemistry hasn’t been fully clicking between them. At times against Empoli, the CB duo seemed to be on different channels and seemed a bit out of sync from each other: something that has been shown in other games as well. Eventually it’ll get better, after all they have just been playing with each other regularly since this summer.
Chemistry grows – but it leaves you wondering if the team wouldn’t benefit more from integrating Caldara sooner rather than later – as he and Romagnoli had a nice chemistry going when they started together against Dudelange in the Europa League. Furthermore, the two are thought to be the starting CB duo for the season. Time to give them a real shot in the Serie A together? Clearly, Caldara is ready, or at least close to, as he’s just recovering from a minor injury.