While the Biancorossi have won three on the spin to move to 12th in the table, their hosts now trail them by two points, after narrowly missing out on a second win of the season last week.
Though they have only lost three league games to this point of their second season back in Serie A – representing their best result in that regard since 2006 – Empoli have been unable to turn draws into wins so far.
The latest such case was particularly agonising, as last weekend Paolo Zanetti‘s side squandered a one-goal advantage in the 90th minute, with Mattia Destro‘s spectacular second-half strike being cancelled out by Torino’s late reply.
Having previously come close to salvaging a point at home to Milan before slipping up in stoppage time, the Azzurri could have tallied several more and sat higher than their current 14th place – much to Zanetti’s frustration.
Since the former Venezia coach took charge of his old club in the summer, they have still won only once, including an early exit from the Coppa Italia to second-tier opponents.
Zanetti may have led his team to a four-match unbeaten streak away from home, but they now return to Stadio Carlo Castellani seeking a first victory in front of their fans since April’s shock 3-2 defeat of Napoli.
An incredible uplift in fortunes since Raffaele Palladino stepped into the dugout has seen Monza rise from the foot of the Serie A standings to mid-table, and his side travel to Tuscany full of confidence after their third straight win last Sunday.
Following a 2-0 victory at home to Spezia, Palladino became the first Serie A coach to claim maximum points from his first three games at a promoted club this century, and the former Juventus winger will not want to stop there.
Without conceding a single goal, Monza have memorably beaten fallen giants Juve, then seen off Ligurian duo Sampdoria and Spezia, so their status as newcomers to the top flight clearly no longer hampers them.
Allied to Palladino’s tactical tweaks since succeeding Giovanni Stroppa, the Biancorossi’s many summer signings have begun to settle, with Stefano Sensi, Gianluca Caprari and captain Matteo Pessina all scoring against Samp and Arsenal loanee Pablo Mari finding the crucial second goal last weekend.
Set to make the short journey to meet Scudetto-holders Milan next week, the side backed by former Rossoneri supremos Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi will now aim to extend their winning streak – bolstering morale still further before heading to San Siro.
While Empoli are expected to be without Lorenzo Tonelli, Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro and Ardian Ismajli again this week, midfielder Alberto Grassi should be back from a rib injury sustained against Milan earlier this month.
By scoring the opener in Turin last time out, Mattia Destro avoided equalling his longest Serie A goal drought of 17 matches, so will hope to supplant young Nicolo Cambiaghi and join Sam Lammers up front. Inter loanee Martin Satriano provides Paolo Zanetti with another option if required.
Meanwhile, Monza’s Luca Marrone may still be sidelined with an ankle problem, and first-choice striker Andrea Petagna remains doubtful due to a muscular injury which has kept him out of the visitors’ recent revival.
Dany Mota and current incumbent Christian Gytkjaer should therefore battle it out to start up front, with creative support coming in the shape of Italy internationals Matteo Pessina and Gianluca Caprari.
Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Ebuehi, De Winter, Luperto, Parisi; Haas, Marin, Bandinelli; Bajrami; Lammers, Destro
Monza possible starting lineup:
Di Gregorio; Izzo, Mari, Caldirola; Ciurria, Rovella, Sensi, Carlos; Pessina, Caprari; Mota