After a brief hiatus, Picks to Click, our new series in which we attempt to predict which players will excel in any given match, returns to flex our predictive powers ahead of Roma's home tilt against Sampdoria, the final match of 2021. Predicting anything in a sport as chaotic as football can be a fool's errand, but we've been reasonably accurate in most of our calls thus far, but with José Mourinho announcing that he's pressing pause on his pre-match press conferences, our task becomes that much tougher. If we don't know who will play, how then can we predict who will play well?
We've never let silly little things like logic prevent us before, so without further delay, here are the names most likely to excel against Sampdoria on Wednesday.
Let's not get too cute here. There are few players in the league playing better than Abraham at the moment. With eight goals and one assist in his past seven matches, Abraham is scorching hot right now and was particularly sharp against Atalanta last week, scoring two goals en route to a man of the match performance. What's more, he's getting involved in nearly every facet of Mourinho's game plan, tracking back to dispossess opposing forwards, starting patterns of play deep in the midfield, and working one-twos and give and goes in the final third.
During the summer, our Chelsea colleagues at We Ain't Got No History described Abraham as a complete striker who was not yet complete. Given the rate at which he's scoring and the extent to which he's contributing to Roma's overall attacking play, we may need to amend that statement soon: Tammy Abraham is becoming a complete striker before our very eyes and seems poised to end 2021 on a high note.
Stephan El Shaarawy
This one is a bit of a gamble given we don't know if he'll make the final squad list, much less play, but given his track record against Sampdoria, we'd better hope he makes the cut. In 10 career matches, El Shaarawy has scored four goals against the Blucerchiati, three of which came in a Roma shirt.
SES hasn't taken the pitch since the beginning of December, but a strong run against Samp would not only help ensure a Roma victory but would set El Shaarawy on the right foot to begin the New Year. El Shaarawy's speed and aggression should keep an already wary Sampdoria defense on the back heel tomorrow.
After a rough patch to begin the month, Mancini flipped the script last week against Atalanta, completing five tackles, clearing four balls, and intercepting four passes, among other contributions. Sampdoria aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut, but Mancini will have to be at his best to limit the scoring opportunities for players like Antonio Candreva and Francesco Caputo. And if he can do a bit better spreading play from the back, this match could be over before the hour mark.
We're going a bit off the beaten path with our final choice, but after a brutal stretch of matches dating back to late October, Viña handled everything Atalanta threw at him last week, piling up defensive stats like so much firewood. He's not likely to repeat his stat-stuffing performance against Samp, simply because their attack pales in comparison to Atalanta, but Sampdoria's defensive issues could open the door for Viña to add a few key passes and maybe even an assist tomorrow at the Stadio Olimpico.
Those are our picks, but what do you think: which players are most likely to break through against Sampdoria? Let us know in the comment section!
Who is your Pick to Click against Sampdoria?
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Stephan El Shaarawy