Jose Mourinho brought his side to Friuli full of optimism after a strong start, including three wins from their opening four games and a draw against Juventus, but a resolute Udinese display coupled with a lethargic Lupi performance put paid to their unbeaten start.
Trailing within the opening 10 minutes after a Rick Karsdorp error allowed Destiny Udogie to open the scoring, it was all downhill from there and AS Roma capitulated.
Rui Patricio was left red-faced for the second, allowing a long-range Lazar Samardzic effort to bounce over him, before Roberto Pereyra and Sandi Lovric inflicted the heaviest Serie A defeat of Mourinho‘s career.
For all the talk of AS Roma being Scudetto contenders this season, a wake-up call in Udine may be a good thing for them. They are managing a mounting injury list in addition to Europa League commitments starting this week, and with the passion and fervour in the capital it may be no bad thing for expectations to be tempered somewhat.
Indeed, after a bright start AS Roma faded dramatically and rarely looked like pulling even a single goal back, on a hugely frustrating evening for fans. Going into the weekend as league leaders, the heavy scoreline and results elsewhere leave them fifth.
It is still early days and the Giallorossi have enough about them to bounce back from this thumping, but they cannot afford too many evenings like this one if they are to achieve their objectives this term.
Blunt attack must alarm Mourinho
If there is one thing AS Roma aren’t short of it is attacking talent, with the Lupi able to boast Tammy Abraham, Andrea Belotti, and Paulo Dybala, in addition to Lorenzo Pellegrini and substitute Eldor Shomorudov.
Throw in injured duo Nicolo Zaniolo and Stephan El Shaarawy and AS Roma have the firepower to overwhelm most teams, but Mourinho is yet to get his frontline to click properly.
Indeed, the Giallorossi were toothless in attack and Abraham barely had a chance before being forced off with injury, whilst half-time substitute Belotti was anonymous. For the wealth of options up front, AS Roma must find a system that allows them to being more consistently threatening in front of goal.