The Serie A finally got under way this month after player protection arguments had delayed its initial kick-off, and there have been some interesting developments already; none more so than the quick turnaround of coaches at a faltering Inter Milan.
Having only been employed as a replacement to Leonardo in the summer, former Genoa manager Gian Piero Gasperini was sacked just 5 competitive games into his tenure after losing 4 and drawing just once, becoming the first manager in the clubs history never to win a game. The Italian stated upon his dismissal that he had asked the club to sign two players in the summer in order to suit his 3-4-3 system, one being Ezequiel Lavezzi and the other Rodrigo Palacio - an Argentine forward he managed with Genoa.
Such deals didn't come to fruition and Inter have since been taken over by former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri, who immediately stated he would ensure players such as Wesley Sneijder are played in there best positions; something Gasperini would not. However, it seems the departed coach was right to target Palacio as the Argentine has begun the season in fine form, accumulating an average WhoScored rating of 8.25 to lead the way in the division.
Player of the Month - September
A quick look at 29-year-old Palacio's stats will show you that he has netted 4 goals in 4 and picked up 3 assists already this term. No other Genoa player has scored more than once and only midfielder Jorquera has assisted other than Palacio. However, if you look into his stats further you will see that the Argentine leads the way for his club in terms of shots per game (2.5), key passes per game (2.5) and successful dribbles per game (1.8), proving just how well he has started the new season.
His season kicked off with a creative role in his side's opening 2-2 draw with Atalanta. He had just 1 shot in the game, though it did test the keeper, but offered more to his side in terms of chance creation than conversion. A magnificent 5 key passes led to 1 assist from 46 passes in total - the second most in his side. An excellent 83% accuracy highlighted his high standard of distribution for a forward, while 70 touches was indicative of his involvement in the match.
A first goal of the season followed in a 2-1 win at Lazio coming from 3 shots in total, as well as another outstanding 4 key passes, leading to a second assist of the season. Unsurprisingly less involved away from home, Palacio still had 50 touches of the ball with a highly respectable 81% accuracy from his 31 passes in total.
Performance of the Season
Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa) vs Catania
Fittingly, September's player of the month pulled off the best performance in Serie A to date after a hugely promising start to the season peaked during his side's impressive 3-0 win over Catania. Palacio posed an extreme goal threat throughout, striking 5 shots - all on target - and finding the net twice. His 1 key pass on the day still produced 1 assist and his third in succession but his involvement didn't end there.
Having completed just 2 successful dribbles in his previous matches, Palacio proved his trickery by completing 5 in one game against Catania, as well as proving effective defensively with a superb 4 tackles from the front. His all action display earned him a perfect 10 match rating from WhoScored - which has been matched by Palermo’s Fabricio Miccoli and Edinson Cavani, but he edges the pair having worked tirelessly to ensure Genoa picked up their best result of an encouraging start to the season.
His weakest performance to date came last time out in a disappointing defeat to Chievo but said weakest display still led to a fourth goal of the season from just 1 shot in the match. His first game without a single key pass saw his run of 3 assists in 3 games come to an end, but his strike made it 4 goals in his last 3 games and the Argentine is undoubtedly the league's in form player right now. His tally of 4 goals have come from just 10 shots and with only 2 off target, Palacio is clearly in clinical form.
Young Player of the Month - September
Of all the players of the age of 23 and under, another Argentine has made an impressive start to the Serie A season, with Atalanta winger Ezequiel Schelotto earning the WhoScored Young Player of the Month award with an average rating of 7.57. The 22-year-old's performances have helped an Atalanta side, docked 6 points prior to the season amid match fixing allegations, to an unbeaten start which would have seen them top of the league otherwise.
Having won promotion back into the league this season, many would have backed Atalanta to struggle this term following their points deduction but 3 wins and 1 draw from their opening 4 matches suggests otherwise.
In a match that involved player of the month Palacio, Atalanta's Schelotto also proved a key player for his side in the opening day draw with Genoa. Despite not scoring or assisting, the young Argentine made 2 key passes from a total of 39, which was more than any teammate having had 72 touches of the ball. A superb 87% pass accuracy from wide was added to in a solid display by 1 successful dribble as well as 1 tackle and 2 interceptions in a defensive sense.
Schelotto went on to pick up the man of the match award in Atalanta's surprise victory over Palermo, again without producing a goal or assist from the right. A total of 56 touches was the highest involvement of any of the home side's players while 28 passes included 2 more chances created. The winger showed off his trickery with 5 successful dribbles in an attacking display that also saw him chip in with an excellent defensive contribution of 3 tackles and 4 interceptions from midfield.
An important player once more as the newly promoted side travelled to Lecce, Schelotto again impressed in terms of distribution with an 85% accuracy and again had more touches than any teammate with 78. Another team high for the match saw the youngster prove his work rate and graft to win 4 tackles in the victory. However, the 22-year-old's best display to date came last time out against a Novara side on a high after a shock win over Inter. Schelotto opened his account for the season in a 2-1 win which included 4 shots, with 2 on target and one hitting the woodwork. 1 key pass and 3 successful dribbles ensured the wide man was a nuisance throughout for the visitors, while 4 interceptions are indicative of a great reading of the game from such a young man.