sport news Gun-slinging, goal-grabbing forward Krzysztof Piatek has AC Milan in buoyant ...

In all honesty, too many recent Milan derbies have been mundane. 

Two frumpy teams with only local pride to battle for. Even the old line about 'two bald men fighting over a comb' was out of place. The grooming tool at stake was missing half its teeth.

But Sunday night's clash is different. 

Krzysztof Piatek performs his famous gun slinging celebration after scoring against Chievo

Krzysztof Piatek performs his famous gun slinging celebration after scoring against Chievo

The routine has become a familiar one for fans with the Pole scoring 28 goals this season

The routine has become a familiar one for fans with the Pole scoring 28 goals this season

AC Milan are on brilliant run and can't wait for the game. Inter have suffered a traumatic start to 2019 and are decimated by injuries, but have ruled the roost in recent years.

Milan's mood is a marked contrast from last year. As Christmas approached the Rossoneri were scratching around for a result and perma-frowning new striker Gonzalo Higuain was slogging away with little reward. It was drab fare.

Gennaro Gattuso's team suffered the humiliation of elimination from their Europa League group, then failed to score in four consecutive Serie A matches, drawing 0-0 three times and losing to home to Fiorentina.

Gattuso, known as Ringhio ('growl') was under intense scrutiny as the seven-times European champions slipped to sixth place. Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini even criticised 'Ringhio's' tactics.

But that seems like a lifetime ago now though, thanks to a new arrival. Polish centre forward Krzysztof Piatek joined Milan in late January for £30million. He had caught the eye at Genoa, scoring 19 in 21 games in all competitions.

A host of strikers have found the Red and Black shirt too heavy in recent years, including Fernando Torres and Higuain. There was curiosity to see whether Piatek was a flash in the pan. The 23-year-old has been a revelation though.

Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has revived Milan's fortunes as they sit third in the table

Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has revived Milan's fortunes as they sit third in the table

Just one point splits the two Milan rivals as they try and secure Champions League football

Just one point splits the two Milan rivals as they try and secure Champions League football

Watching brief 

AC MILAN vs INTER MILAN

Sunday, Serie A, 7.30pm UK time

Live on Premier Sports 1

Piatek, whose name translates to 'Christopher Friday' has grabbed seven goals in nine appearances for Milan. The fans already adore him, it's a case of 'Friday, I'm in Love' as someone once sang.

Piatek lives for goals. As Gattuso commented 'he's like RoboCop. He doesn't say much, only that he wants to score goals and conquer the world'. 

He's the guy managers, directors and supporters dream of, professional and hungry. There's no diva-esque behaviour.

The comparisons with another son of Eastern Europe, Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko, have been constant. Ultra-serious Sheva wasn't a muscle-bound bruiser, but was strong and durable. Piatek is the same.

'Sheva' hit the mark regularly in the derby, and many Inter fans are deeply worried that this could be a case of deja-vu.

The precise Pole is also reminiscent of Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He knows where the ball is going, and uses his slightly gangly frame to devastating effect.

There is no unnecessary flamboyance in his finishing, it's usually low and in the corner. The former Cracovia player can also score from nothing, which is a blessing, because even Milan's biggest cheerleaders admit that there isn't a lot of creativity in their play.

Just when you thought he couldn't have any more appeal to supporters, there's his celebration. After despatching the ball into the net he fires off two imaginary pistols, the left arm under the right.

The move has gone into calcio folklore, copied by young and old. Although it's not as easy as it looks. 'You never cross your arms', he explained in a Polish TV interview.

It's misleading to apply all the credit for the Rossoneri renaissance to their gunslinger however. 

Lucas Biglia celebrates scoring from a free-kick during Milan's recent win over Chievo

Lucas Biglia celebrates scoring from a free-kick during Milan's recent win over Chievo

Piatek celebrates with Hakan Calhanoglu after opening the scoring in their match with Empoli

Piatek celebrates with Hakan Calhanoglu after opening the scoring in their match with Empoli

Serie A fixtures 

UK times shown

FRIDAY

Cagliari vs Fiorentina (7.30pm)

SATURDAY

Sassuolo vs Sampdoria (2pm)

SPAL vs Roma (5pm)

Torino vs Bologna (7.30pm)

SUNDAY

Genoa vs Juventus (11.30am)

Atalanta vs

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