AC Milan are in a good place heading into their first Serie A fixture of the calendar year, having collecting seven points from the last nine available to them in 2023. Stefan Pioli's side should be confident of claiming a third league win in four on Sunday, as they take on lowly Empoli (KO, 11:30), who haven't won since November 12.
Gli Azzurri are 19th in Italy's top division and are only ahead of bottom club Salernitana - who have won twice since their relegation rivals lasted tasted victory - by one point.
Sunday is a big game for both Milan and Empoli as they bid to start the new year in the right way.
Empoli will be without New Zealand full-back Liberato Cacace for the visit of Milan, owing to the fifth booking of the campaign he picked up in the last match, a 0-0 draw at Cagliari on December 30.
Simone Bastoni was a half-time substitute in that game but the Italian lasted less than 15 minutes before he was forced off, joining Guiseppe Pezzella and Bartosz Bereszynski on the injury list.
There will be a familiar face in the Empoli ranks on Sunday, with on-loan Milan striker Daniel Maldini - son of the legendary Milan defender Paolo - spending the season in Florence. The 22-year-old has started Empoli's last two games, but it remains to be seen whether he drops to the bench against his parent club, who he scored against in the previous campaign for Spezia.
The Rossoneri, meanwhile, are missing a whole host of first-teamers. Ismael Bennacer (Algeria) and Samuel Chukwueze (Nigeria) have departed for the Africa Cup of Nations while Noah Okafor, Pierre Kalulu, Tommaso Pobega, Fikayo Tomori and Malick Thiaw are all still injured.
Pioli made numerous changes for the midweek win over Cagliari in the Coppa Italia, with only Theo Hernandez, Davide Calabria and Tijjani Reijnders likely to keep their spots in the starting XI, and the former should revert to his usual left-back position after filling in at centre-back on Tuesday.
Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao - who scored from the bench against Cagliari - are among those expected to be restored to the side.
Empoli are 4/1 to win at home for just the second time this season, with Milan favourites for the victory at 8/13 and the draw at 3/1.
Both teams to score - which landed in the corresponding fixture between these sides last season - is 8/11.
AC Milan to win and under 3.5 goals @ 11/8
Empoli's poor form has been well documented, and Milan fans will be expecting a comfortable victory on Sunday, but the home side can take confidence from the fact that they have avoided defeat in three of their last five games.
They've also shown a solidity to their game, conceding just five times in that run, and there have been two or fewer goals in each of those matches.
Milan's last Serie A contest was a narrow 1-0 win over Sassuolo, and with a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Atalanta next Wednesday, Pioli may opt to rest players later in the game if they are winning, so it could end in a disjointed line-up which may help Empoli in keeping the score down.
AC Milan to win to nil @ 9/5
While Empoli's defence deserves credit recently, the same can't be said for their attack. Aurelio Andreazzoli's side have failed to score in their last three games and their season total in Serie A (10) is five fewer than the next worst.
Milan have kept seven clean sheets in the league this term, including two in their last three, and they should be looking to claim an eighth of the campaign on Sunday.
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