4 Ways for AC Milan to Climb into Serie A Title Race
Eight matches into the season, AC Milan find themselves in a precarious position in the Serie A table.
Massimiliano Allegri's men sit in eighth place after having only picked up 11 points so far this season. It mirrors the lopsided story of last season, when the squad really became a tale of two halves, earning the most amount of points in the second half of the season and ultimately finishing third in the table.
Without further ado, here are four ways Milan can climb back into the hunt this season.
Injuries have been a problem for Milan players for several years now.
Former Rossoneri striker Alexandre Pato recently told SporTV via ESPNFC that he's not surprised the team has so many players on the treatment table.
Milan are currently missing plenty of players who would otherwise have a significant role in the team, such as Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Giampaolo Pazzini and others.
So, how has this seemingly innovative Milan lab contributed to the plethora of injuries? Well, from the naked eye, it would be hard to tell. However, it's quite clear to see that coach Allegri tends to rush players back from injuries, who then re-aggravate their condition on the pitch and in practice. We've seen this happen with both Pato and Thiago Silva in recent years.
Launch Stephan El Shaarawy
Stephan El Shaarawy, only a teenager at the time, managed 16 goals last season in Serie A—an impressive tally for a player who Massimiliano Allegri gave a ton of defensive duties to on the left side of the formation.
This calendar year has been a nightmare for El Shaarawy. Not only has he failed to find the back of the net more often than not, but he has succumbed to various nagging injuries which have kept him out of competitive play for over a month.
He is expected to return to full health in the first week of November, so it will be interesting to see how he's integrated back into the starting rotation.
Settle on a Formation
Milan have gone from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-1-2 this season. Each of these formations employs a different set of players who have specific technical traits which favor them in certain setups.
As it stands, Coach Allegri has reverted back to a 4-3-3, where he can use Milan's versatile attacking players. Surprisingly, Ricardo Kaka took on El Shaarawy's role in the 4-3-3 used against Barcelona this week.
Kaka has long been at his best when he's in the hole in between midfield and attack. Seeing him on the left side and tracking back to defend was a bit odd for fans who know Kaka very well.
Either way, it's now imperative that Allegri stays true to a formation for the sake of team chemistry and continuity.
Upgrade in January
Both Adil Rami and Keisuke Honda are set to bolster Milan's squad during the upcoming January transfer window.
Rami was already signed but won't be able to feature until then, while there hasn't been anything official posted about the Japanese trequartista just yet.
Rami in particular should slot into the starting lineup right away and give Milan a towering presence, which will certainly help them in their main deficiency, which is aerial defending. The French defender has started plenty of times alongside Philippe Mexes for the French national team, so they know each other well off the pitch and are actually good friends.
More interestingly, it remains to be seen how Honda will play in the team considering they're now using a 4-3-3, and that there are three other players in his same position. Either way, his ability from set pieces will be a welcome addition.