Serie A talking points: Revitalised front line puts Juventus back in title race

Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Álvaro Morata and Simone Zaza are beginning to click for Juve, Roma are looking even more vulnerable and M’Baye Niang deserves an extended run at centre-forward for Milan

Hi everybody. We’ve decided to hold my main Serie A blog until Tuesday this week, so it could focus on that tantalising top-of-the-table clash between Napoli and Inter. But we would not want to deny everybody the usual spot to chat calcio on a Monday, so here, in advance, are a few quick hits from the weekend.

• A fourth consecutive win for Juventus, and suddenly the notion – posited quite widely after their slow start – that they were ever out of the title race starts to look a little silly. The Bianconeri still have ground to make up, and I certainly would not name them as my favourites for the Scudetto at this stage, but I do have them in my top three. An attack that once seemed disjointed is beginning to gel, with four different forwards – Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Álvaro Morata and Simone Zaza – all chipping in either a goal or an assist in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Palermo. At the other end, Juventus held the Sicilians without a shot on target, the third time this season they have achieved such a feat.

• Roma, by contrast, are looking ever more vulnerable after losing 2-0 at home to Atalanta. It would be easy to write a narrative which says this team had the stuffing knocked out of it during the midweek rout by Barcelona, but there were more tangible reasons for this defeat. The Giallorossi’s defence has been atrocious all season (and Rudi García’s decision to drop Wojciech Szczesny and Antonio Rüdiger failed to deliver a quick fix) while their prolific attack has relied heavily on the pace of Mohamed Salah and Gervinho. Deprived by injury of both forwards, there was always a risk that the goals would start to dry up. Nevertheless, García remains convinced that: “The sky behind these clouds is still blue.”

• There were no clouds over Atalanta’s changing room celebrations at full-time, mind. Only an electronic board that someone seems to have pinched from the fourth official.

• Sinisa Mihajlovic got one over his former employers – or more accurately, got four over them – as Milan smashed Sampdoria at San Siro. This was one of those matches where it was hard to tell whether the Rossoneri were truly playing brilliantly or simply being made to look better by desperately disappointing opponents. M’Baye Niang was moved inside to centre-forward, though, and had a fine game – grabbing a pair of goals. Deployed more often on the wing in the past, it would be interesting to see him granted a run of matches in this role.

• Not the most action-packed game between Torino and Bologna but it was encouraging to see Andrea Belotti finally get off the mark for the Granata in what was his 11th appearance for the club. A €7.5m summer signing from Palermo, the 21-year-old had quietly posted a strong goals-to-minutes ratio for the Sicilians, as well as scoring regularly at youth level for Italy, and remains a player to keep an eye on.

• A 3-2 victory over Verona vaulted Frosinone up to 17th and means that they have now taken 13 points out of a possible 15 in their last five home games. There is a very long way to go yet, but their form at the Stadio Matusa is giving them a puncher’s chance in the relegation scrap.

• Empoli’s masseur has an unusual technique for getting Lorenzo Tonelli ready for a game. After the defender scored the only goal in his team’s win over Lazio on Sunday, it might be time for other teams to experiment with this more widely.

Results: Chievo 2-0 Udinese, Empoli 1-0 Lazio, Frosinone 3-2 Verona, Genoa 1-2 Carpi, Milan 4-1 Sampdoria, Palermo 0-3 Juventus, Roma 0-2 Atalanta, Torino 2-0 Bologna