Two promoted clubs keen to avoid a scrap against the drop meet on Sunday (2pm GMT) when Sampdoria face Pescara at the Stadio Communale Luigi Ferraris.
Sampdoria began the season with three wins and two draws but nose-dived thereafter, losing seven straight matches to slip dangerously close to the bottom three by mid-November.
A brief renaissance encompassing victories over Genoa and Bologna was insufficient to buy coach Ciro Ferrera any long-term stability and he was sacked just before Christmas following consecutive defeats to Udinese and Catania.
Former Palermo coach Delio Rossi stepped into the breach and has done a very solid job in his four matches in charge to date, winning away at Juventus, drawing at home to Milan, but losing against Lazio and Siena. Better defensive organisation has been evident and that in itself may be just enough to see Sampdoria clear of relegation worries.
Pescara are also on their second coach of the campaign, with current incumbent Cristiano Bergodi having replaced Giovanni Stroppa in mid-November. Bergodi has thus far overseen three victories and five defeats, accumulating points at a rate of 1.13 per match, an improvement on the 0.85 per match obtained by Stroppa.
The Delfino can be a very open team at times, but that was the style that got them promoted under Zdenek Zeman last season and any abrupt change in approach would likely be counterproductive at this stage of the campaign.
Betting Tip: These sides are both among the five worst offenders in the league when it comes to red and yellow cards, so it seems a case of when rather than if there will be cautions in this encounter.
Sampdoria’s average first booking time at home is 36 minutes, while Pescara’s away from home is 33 minutes. 13 of the 20 first cards dished out to these sides have occurred after the 24th minute, leading us to suggest backing the time of first booking to be over 24 minutes @ 5/6 with Bet365.