Whenever it is that Rafael Benitez decides to join the ranks of managers to have penned an autobiography, it’s unlikely he’ll look to devote too much time to the goings on during November of 2013.
Despite beginning the month with a 2-1 win over Catania, a fourth consecutive league win that put them just three points off top spot, and then following it up with a Champions League victory over Marseille that kept them in contention for qualification to the next round, three defeats on the bounce since then have seen their chances in both competitions unravel.
Their 3-1 midweek loss at Borussia Dortmund compounded a torrid run which began with a 3-0 humbling at leaders Juventus. It means that Rafa Benitez’s floundering side are now third, six points off the top in Serie A, with fourth-placed Inter Milan sniffing.
And should they fail to get a win over Arsenal in their final group game, Benitez will be forced to reluctantly plot another Europe League campaign.
Uncomfortable questions are now being asked of the Spaniard by the famously ruthless Italian press, who are starting to wonder if he has the tactical nous to topple Roma and Juve and mastermind a credible title challenge.
Given that their early season momentum is rapidly dissipating, it makes their trip to Rome on Monday evening to face a hot and cold Lazio side particularly important. Unfortunately for Rafa, even a Lazio side who have struggled in the league of late are rarely anything but hot at the Stadio Olimpico.
Despite a season in which they’ve won as many as they’ve lost, their eight placed position is almost entirely down to the home form of Claudio Lotito’s side, where they’ve lost only once in eight in all competitions this season.
Their 2-1 victory over Apollon Limassol in Europe in midweek was their sixth home win of the season, and they’re temptingly priced for the win at 19/10.
Benitez can’t even look to history for some solace, with the Partenopei not having won at the Stadio Olimpico since 2008. Napoli are 11/8 to win, but for a manager who prides himself on solidity and consistency, his side are shipping goals, with 11 conceded in their last five in all competitions.
And with Lazio failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last four games, Lazio to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored in the game, at 4/1, looks the pick of the bunch.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.