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Mancini wants to ‘bring Italy back where it belongs’

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MILAN (AP) A year after its stunning elimination by Sweden in a World Cup playoff, Italy is back at the San Siro stadium for another potentially decisive match.

The Azzurri have to beat Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal on Saturday and then hope the European champion does not defeat Poland three days later in order to reach the UEFA Nations League finals.

[ MORE: Netherlands wins, Germany relegated ]

“We would like to advance, and we’ll try to, but the No. 1 objective remains qualifying for the European Championship,” coach Roberto Mancini said on Friday.

Portugal leads Group 4 with a perfect six points, Italy has four, and Poland one.

The group winner advances to the Final Four in June. Poland is already assured of finishing last in the group and will be relegated to League B.

Mancini was hired after previous coach Gian Piero Ventura was blamed for Italy’s failed World Cup qualification.

“I see a team that wants to roll its sleeves up and bring Italy back where it belongs,” Mancini said. “Let’s be clear, we still need some time, but we’re on the right path.”

Defender Giorgio Chiellini is slated to make his 100th appearance for Italy while wearing the captain’s armband.

“I want to celebrate the achievement only at the end of the match,” Chiellini said. “First let’s focus on Portugal, try to bring home three points and provide continuity to the good work done to this point.”

Chiellini retired from the national team in the aftermath of the loss to Sweden but then changed his mind.

“The real disappointment came in June when many of my club teammates left for Russia while I was preparing my suitcases for vacation,” Chiellini said.

Fellow defender Alessio Romagnoli left Italy’s squad on Friday with a muscular injury, and Italy is also without forward Federico Bernardeschi.

Bernardeschi was a key performer in the 1-0 win over Poland last month, lining up alongside Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa.

Unable to use the same lineup, Mancini announced that Ciro Immobile will likely start at center forward.

Italy has had trouble scoring.

The last time the Azzurri scored more than one goal was in May, a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in a friendly , while the last time they accomplished the feat in a competitive match was in June 2017, a 5-0 victory over Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier.

Italy next plays the United States in a friendly in Genk, Belgium, on Tuesday.

Mancini announced Chiellini, Alessandro Florenzi, Jorginho and Insigne would be sent home after the Portugal game and Gianluca Mancini and Moise Kean would be called up from the under-21 side.

Mancini and Chiellini both expressed disappointment that Ronaldo, who is taking a break from the national team, isn’t with Portugal.

“It’s always great to face the best players,” Mancini said. “Anyhow, Portugal remains a great squad even without Cristiano.”

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Everton, Chelsea scrap to stalemate

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  • Chelsea with 13-6 edge in attempts
  • Morata offside to thwart goal
  • Chelsea sinks

Chelsea will not join Liverpool on 30 points after Everton stifled the Blues in a scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

A chippy affair, both teams had their chances in London. Chelsea has 28 points and will finish two points back of Liverpool and at least one behind Man City. Everton stays ninth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea had most of the ball, and earned a dangerous free kick when Yerry Mina collected a yellow card for a 22nd minute tackle on Eden Hazard. Unfortunately for the Blues, Marcos Alonso‘s attempt zipped wide of the near post.

Jorginho saw his own yellow when Gylfi Sigurdsson picked off a lazy David Luiz pass. The Italian clattered into Sigurdsson’s foot, and it might’ve earned him a red card on another day.

Marcos Alonso ripped a shot across goal in the 40th minute, a rare bit of attacking danger in a half more noted for a series of hard fouls. Bernard and Antonio Rudiger were shown yellow cards after the former went head-to-head with the latter, while Alonso stuck his studs into Theo Walcott.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jordan Pickford denied an Alvaro Morata chance in the 46th minute, and Sigurdsson took a vicious shot that Kepa Arrizabalaga handled in the 57th.

Chelsea had the ball in the net but would-be goal scorer Morata was offside in the 72nd minute. Moments later, Hazard sliced a shot a yard wide of the far post with the outside of his boot.

Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Everton

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Maurizio Sarri‘s Chelsea looks to go atop the Premier League table with a win over rising Everton on Sunday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Alvaro Morata starts up top for the Blues, who will have Pedro and Olivier Giroud amongst their reinforcements on the bench.

Everton has Richarlison up top a dangerous attack.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Hazard, Morata. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Barkley, Pedro, Giroud.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison. Subs: Stekelenburg, Baines, Jagielka, Davies, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Tosun.

Chiellini, Jorginho headline Italy squad to face USMNT

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Chelsea pair Jorginho and Emerson were named to a 27-man squad ahead of the November FIFA dates, which includes a matchup against the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Some regulars also made the squad, including defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and winger Lorenzo Insigne, but the squad also features youngsters such as Inter winger Matteo Politano, German-born Vincenzo Grifo of Hoffenheim and 18-year-old Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali.

[READ: Premier League streaming schedule]

Italy will face Portugal at the San Siro on November 17 in UEFA Nations League action, followed by the match against the USMNT three days later in Genk, Belgium. It will be interesting to see if Italy manager Roberto Mancini rests some of his veterans against the U.S., which will field a younger squad, to blood some of his youngsters in the friendly. It could be a barometer of where this young U.S. side is against a historic European power’s fellow young players.

In terms of the Premier League, Jorginho has quickly settled in to life in the Premier League with 11 league starts for Chelsea since joining this past summer. The 26-year-old is the playmaker of the side and the link between defense and attack. Emerson meanwhile has yet to feature this season in the Premier League, though he’s played five times for Chelsea between the UEFA Europa League and League Cup.

Interestingly, both players are Brazilian-born, although their international allegiance is now to Italy. Both players are of Italian descent.

Best Premier League signings so far

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As we enter the fourth month of the 2018-19 Premier League season, plenty of new signings from the summer months have settled in well and are ripping it up with their new teams.

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Below is a look at the best signings of the season so far, as we assess which newcomers have made the best starts.


David Brooks (Sheffield United to Bournemouth, $14.8 million)
The Welsh youngster has been a revelation in the Premier League, scoring in three of his last four games and adding pace and a direct nature to Bournemouth’s front line. In his first-ever PL season, Brooks’ form is a big reason why Bournemouth sit in sixth place. Still just 21 years old, Brooks compliments Fraser, Wilson and King very well with his clever runs inside and beyond the last defender causing all kinds of problems for opponents.


Jorginho (Napoli to Chelsea, $73.6 million)
Turned down Manchester City to sign for Chelsea and it seems like an inspired decision. The Italian international has been handed the keys to the Blues’ midfield by new manager Maurizio Sarri, the man who joined him in switching Napoli for Chelsea, and he’s transformed the entire team. Leading the PL in passes attempted and completed most weeks, Jorginho’s ability to select the correct pass and get Chelsea going is a joy to watch.


Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City to Manchester City, $77.4 million)
Struggled initially after his huge summer move but the Algerian winger has found his feet in recent weeks with goals against Burnley and Tottenham. Yes, he skied a penalty kick in the big game at Liverpool, but that happens. Aside from that he’s keeping Leroy Sane out of the team right now. That in itself is a huge achievement and Mahrez is thriving under Pep Guardiola. He adds something a little different to City’s attack and as their only signing of the summer at a club-record fee, Mahrez is coping well with the pressure on his shoulders.


James Maddison (Norwich City to Leicester City, $25.8 million)
The 21-year-old arrived as Mahrez’s replacement and his form early in the season was superb, with goals, trickery and a real understanding with Leicester’s other attackers. That resulted in an England call-up and Maddison will be keen to continue to kick on under Claude Puel in a central or wide role.


Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria to Arsenal, $34 million)
The diminutive Uruguayan has flown under the radar a little with Matteo Geundouzi getting a lot of the plaudits in midfield, but his tidy passing and ability to snap away at tackles in front of the back four has helped Unai Emery turn things around for the Gunners. Arsenal’s defense looks more solid in having Torreira and Geundouzi rampaging around, shutting down attacks in front of them. While the 22-year-old is adept at starting attacks and getting the ball up to the likes of Lacazette and Aubameyang quickly.


Richarlison (Watford to Everton, $51.6 million)
The Brazilian got off to a rapid start to the campaign after Marco Silva returned to his former club Watford to sign the 21-year-old forward. Four goals in his first six Premier League games for the Toffees got everyone excited and he’s been playing up top on his own in recent weeks, stretching opposition defenses whenever he can. A call-up to the full Brazil squad has since arrived and he scored twice in September for the Selecao.


Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United to Fulham, $22.7 million)
Not a totally new signing for Fulham seeing as the bullish Serbian striker spent the second half of last season on loan with the Cottagers as they won promotion to the PL, but his impact this season has been obvious. Mitrovic, 24, scored five goals in his first six PL games of the season but has struggled in recent weeks as Fulham’s defensive frailties have been woefully exposed. Still, it makes you wonder why Newcastle let him go given their goalscoring woes, with Mitrovic a real handful for opposition defenders.


Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco to Wolverhampton Wanderers, $6.4 million)
A contender for bargain of the season, the Portuguese midfielder arrived at Wolves thanks to his agent Jorge Mendes and his close links to the club. Moutinho, 32, scored a stunner at Manchester United to grab Wolves a deserved point and has been superb alongside Ruben Neves in midfield. His veteran leadership, alongside many of his compatriots under Nuno Espirito Santo, has seen Wolves in the discussion as the best-ever newly-promoted team in the PL era. His class on the ball is unquestionable.


Matteo Geundouzi (Lorient to Arsenal, $9 million)
Still just 19 years old, nobody expected this from Guendouzi. Perhaps his manager Emery did, having seen him at PSG’s academy and at Lorient in the second-tier in France, but the teenager has been a revelation early in the campaign. Some would say he is the combative defensive midfielder Arsenal have been missing for decades, and it would be hard to argue with that. He is still very raw but he has all of the tools to succeed in the Premier League. A very promising start.


Danny Ings (Liverpool to Southampton, loan then $23.2 million buy)
Four goals in his first nine PL games for his hometown club represents a decent start for Ings after his move from Liverpool, but the Englishman will be thinking he should have scored more. That’s a good thing. Still a little rusty after several seasons of injury struggles, Ings is showing his best form in spurts and Southampton will hope he is back to his best very shortly. He has scored 50 percent of their goals so far this season which tells us just how important he is for Mark Hughes‘ team.


Honorable mentions: Rui Patricio (Wolves), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Fred (Manchester United), Alisson (Liverpool), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth), Andre Schurrle (Fulham), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool).