Carlo Ancelotti

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Serie A: Inter goes top, Napoli falls again

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It’s Lautaro Martinez’s world and we’re all just living in it.

The white-hot Argentine scored a brace as Inter beat SPAL 2-1 to go top of the Serie A table, taking advantage of a Juventus slip at home.

Martinez continues to develop a deadly partnership with Romelu Lukaku, and the big Belgian’s presence was felt on the opener 16 minutes in. Lautaro dribbled down the center of the pitch with Lukaku cutting in front of the move, dragging both defenders off the ball enough for the Argentine to bury a scuffed shot in the bottom-left corner of the net.

Lukaku was again involved on the second just before halftime, holding the ball up at the top of the box and feeding it to the right wing where Antonio Candreva delivered a fabulous cross to Lautaro’s head at the far post. That put Inter 2-0 up, and they skirted around a 50th minute Mattia Valoti consolation.

The win moved them top of the table on 37 points thanks to a 2-2 draw for Juventus at home against Sassuolo, in which a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty was required to secure the comeback. Juve opened the scoring 20 minutes in off a pinpoint shot from Leonardo Bonucci, but Sassuolo soon matched that just minutes later via a delicious Jeremie Boga chip from a tight angle.

The visitors moved in front on an ugly goal for Juventus to concede, started thanks to a bad giveaway by Matthijs de Ligt at the back and finished by a miserable effort from Gianluigi Buffon as the ball trickled over the line. Ronaldo won the penalty and finished it off in the 68th minute to level the score, but Juve could not muster a winner despite a whopping 29 efforts on net. Ronaldo struggled for much of the game, not fed his usual quota of service down the left. Gonzalo Higuain wasn’t any more involved, as Miralem Pjanic was the only attacking threat up front for the defending champions.

Juve now sits second on 36 points, six ahead of Lazio who remained in the hunt with a 3-0 thumping of Udinese. Ciro Immobile bagged a brace in the first half while Luis Alberto hit from the spot before halftime to ensure the scoreline was comfortable.

AC Milan required an 88th minute winner from Theo Hernandez to secure a 1-0 victory at Parma, keeping them afloat in the crowded middle of the table. The goal was a dogged effort from Hernandez who followed up a saved Giacomo Bonaventura shot, stealing the ball off a miserable Matteo Darmian clearance and thrusting it into the back of the net. The match saw 28 shots from AC Milan, but just eight on target. They managed to hold Parma without an effort on frame, however, as the defense was never truly tested.

Napoli slumped to yet another poor result, falling 2-1 at home to Bologna on an 80th minute Nicola Sansone winner that puts Carlo Ancelotti’s position under even more pressure. Fernando Llorente opened the scoring just before halftime, following up a Lorenzo Insigne effort at the far post. That was all they had in front of net, however, as Napoli manage to put just six of its 30 shots on target. They were punished after the break as Andreas Skov Olsen struck just before the hour mark and Sansone cropped up 10 minutes before full-time. The loss leaves Napoli on a six-game Serie A winless run and sees them fall to seventh in the league table, 17 points back of leaders Inter.

Roma moved into a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona on the road. Justin Kluivert and Davide Faraoni cancelled each other out in the first half but Diego Perotti put Roma up on the stroke of halftime with a penalty to send Roma through. Henrikh Mkhitaryan added the third in stoppage time to seal things off. The victory moved them into fourth in the Serie A table on 28 points, three ahead of Cagliari.

Who are the favorites to replace Emery at Arsenal?

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Following news of Unai Emery’s firing as Arsenal manager, the club announced that its search for a new manager is already underway.

[ MORE: Unai Emery fired by Arsenal ]

With the Gunners set to face Norwich City in Premier League action on Sunday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), interim manager Freddie Ljungberg is almost certain to take charge of at least one game before Emery’s successor takes the reins.

According to reports, Arsenal had previously contacted Jose Mourinho as a potential replacement for Emery, in the event they decided to make a change. Following Mourinho’s appointment as new Tottenham Hotspur boss a week ago, some figures at Arsenal are said to be upset at missing out on the Portuguese.

[ MORE: Emery: “We are better than we are showing” ]

Below is a look at the current bookmakers’ favorites to replace Emery at Arsenal, listed in the order of who is favorite.

  • Massimiliano Allegri (unemployed) – The clear-cut favorite, at almost even odds. The thinking here would be that Allegri is a proven winner (five Serie A titles and four Italian Cups at Juventus), but so was Emery when he was hired (three straight Europa League titles). He’s been out of a job since leaving Juve at the end of last season and has been linked with every major managerial job since then.
  • Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolverhampton Wanderers) – Unlike Allegri, Santo is a proven PL manager, only he comes without the same (read: any) winning pedigree of the Italian. After guiding Wolves to the EFL Championship title in 2018, he then took them to a seventh-place finish (and UEL qualification) in the PL last season.
  • Mikel Arteta (Manchester City, assistant) – Previously an Arsenal player (2011-2016) and now an assistant under Pep Guardiola, Arteta has been linked with a number of high-profile jobs in the last two years, including Arsenal back when Emery was hired. For him, it’ll likely hinge upon the succession plan at Man City: Guardiola never stays at one club for too long, so does Arteta believe he’ll be given a chance to take over?
  • Mauricio Pochettino (unemployed) – Pochettino has long since claimed he will never manage two clubs — Barcelona and Arsenal — out of principle after managing rivals Espanyol and Tottenham Hotspur. Alas, the bookmakers can’t help themselves from stirring the pot in north London.
  • Rafael Benitez  (Dalian Yifang) – Potentially a very sensible, if slightly underwhelming, option. Reports have him leaving China very soon, at the end of the Chinese Super League season. If nothing else, Benitez would get Arsenal defending and make them highly functional, if lacking the kind of flair that fans have come to expect.
  • Carlo Ancelotti (Napoli) – Somewhat out of left field, but potentially available for no compensation after a rough start to his second season at Napoli (seventh place, 15 points back of leaders Juve).
  • Eddie Howe (Bournemouth) – Forever tabbed a long-odds option, because the bookmakers need an English name to add to the list.

Where to next for Mauricio Pochettino?

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Following official word of Mauricio Pochettino being relieved of his duties as Tottenham Hotspur manager, we’ve already discussed how things got to this point and who is likely to replace Pochettino. Now it’s time to consider where the Argentine will work next.

[ MORE: Pochettino paid the price for Levy’s mistakes ]

The public perception — and perhaps honest truth — is that Pochettino faced nearly impossible odds to win trophies at Tottenham due to the financial limitations placed upon him by chairman Daniel Levy, therefore much of the outside world is likely to see Pochettino as still having loads of untapped potential as a manager.

“With the right resources, he could achieve absolutely anything,” the obvious line of thinking will go. Thus, he will almost certainly have his pick of any number of top jobs, depending on whether or not he would like to take a short break from employment and cash the first of many checks which will ultimately pay him more than $16 million to no longer manage Spurs.

[ MORE: Mourinho to replace Poch? ]

A few jobs which are likely to see the managerial post come available in the coming weeks and months, and appeal to a candidate of Pochettino’s caliber (in no particular order)…

  • Manchester United (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) – Man United have severely underperformed in their first 12 games this season (nine points back of fourth place), leading to plenty of speculation that Solskjaer could be fired if the right replacement came available. United reportedly courted Pochettino after Jose Mourinho departed last season, but he remained loyal to Spurs.
  • Bayern Munich (Hans-Dieter Flick, interim) – Niko Kovac was fired earlier this month and the seven-time defending Bundesliga champs currently sit third, four points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern is a squad mixed with veteran and youthful stars, a balance Pochettino might find attractive when considering both the long- and short-term prospects of his next employer.
  • Real Madrid (Zinedine Zidane) – Like United, the links to Madrid have been around for quite some time. While he’ll undoubtedly have far more to work with budget-wise in the Spanish capital, one thing to consider: if Pochettino found working with Levy a challenge, what might he call working for Florentino Perez?
  • Paris Saint-Germain (Thomas Tuchel) – PSG have to be considered anytime a high-profile manager comes available, because they’re not only willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, but they change managers as frequently as anyone. Tuchel isn’t having the best of times (three losses from their first 13 games), though his side still sit eight points clear of the Ligue 1 pack. The league title is in the bag, but PSG’s owners have Champions League ambitions, and Pochettino is only five months removed from managing in that competition’s final.
  • Borussia Dortmund (Lucien Favre) – Dortmund currently sit sixth, though just two points back of second place. Favre’s side crumbled down the stretch when last season’s title was theirs to be lost. This is a job that’s probably only in play if Pochettino decides to take a brief sabbatical, as Dortmund are unlikely to have an itchy trigger finger.
  • Napoli (Carlo Ancelotti) – Napoli spent wildly (by their standards) this summer. Through 12 games all it’s gotten them is seventh place, and Ancelotti has come under fire of late. Much like Spurs when he took that job, Napoli represents a club with plenty of potential — and romantic dreams — which could very well appeal to Pochettino.

Napoli threatens legal action against players; Ancelotti under threat

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Things are pretty dicey in Naples.

Napoli drew Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday to dip below Liverpool in Group E of the UEFA Champions League, the result also meaning Napoli is winless in four across all competitions.

[ MORE: Kyle Walker goes in goal ]

Its early season feats not enough to keep it in Serie A’s Top Seven, and manager Carlo Ancelotti was asked to run an emergency training camp.

From The Independent:

Carlo Ancelotti and his players reportedly refused to board a bus to the retreat, which was organized by club chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis, after their draw with RB Salzburg. Ancelotti skipped his post-match media duties, and the president of the club supposedly held an hour-long conference call with the manager after Wednesday morning’s training session.

Not good, and De Laurentiis may be suing his players.

Napoli released a statement saying there would be player or manager interviews “for the foreseeable future,” and that the camp was “entrusted” in the hands of Ancelotti.

The Neapolitan side has been unable to break Juve’s scudetto hold on Serie A under Ancelotti as it did under Rafa Benitez and Maurizio Sarri.

And it’s been a weird stretch of matches. Ancelotti was sent off as Napoli blew two leads in a draw with Atalanta, then lost to Roma. It also drew struggling SPAL.

Napoli next has Genoa before the international break, then snaps back to life with visits to AC Milan and Liverpool. It doesn’t seem like the right time to make a move, with the UCL in the balance.

Napoli dressing rooms unfinished ahead of Sampdoria, Liverpool visits

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We’d say so much for home field advantage, but we haven’t seen the away rooms.

Napoli is enraged with local authorities, specifically its city council, as the locker rooms at Stadio San Paulo are far from suitable for match day.

[ MORE: State of the USMNT ]

The club faces Sampdoria in Serie A play on Saturday and Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Napoli opened its season away to Fiorentina and Juventus, a 4-3 win and 4-3 loss respectively, making arrangements to help give extra time to stadium renovators.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti tore into the city council, making an official statement on the Napoli web site:

“I have seen the state of the dressing rooms at the Sao Paulo. There are no words. I was the one who wanted to play the first game. You can build a house in two months, but they are not capable of renovating the dressing rooms! Where are the games for Sampdoria and Liverpool? I’m shocked at the incompetence of the people in charge of the work. How could the Region, Municipality and Commissioners fail to respect the commitments that were made? It smacks of disregard and a lack of a bond with the city’s team. I’m dismayed. “

Maybe the city council was always going to have the work done in time, or maybe Ancelotti spurred them into action. The council is vowing that all the work will be done by Friday and posted updated photos of the work.