Ancelotti dubs Guardiola a ‘genius’ ahead of City-Everton clash

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has dubbed Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola a genius ahead of their New Year’s Day clash.

The pair will go head to head when Ancelotti takes his revitalised team to the Etihad Stadium and the Italian has praised his opposite number, with the duo having won five Champions League titles between them.

“Pep is a fantastic manager,” Ancelotti said at his weekly press conference at Finch Farm.

“I have a really good relationship with him and a lot of respect. He is a genius because he’s always tried to do something special on the pitch.”

City are currently 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool in the title race but Ancelotti believes the reigning champions will help gauge Everton‘s Premier League revival, which has brought consecutive victories since the 60-year-old took charge from interim boss Duncan Ferguson.

“Against City this is a fantastic test to see where we are at,” said Ancelotti, whose side face Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday.

“Maybe City are not at the same level as last year but Liverpool won all their games except one, that is the difference.

“City remain a fantastic team, with a fantastic manager, and it will be really tough to compete with them but we can have confidence to do our best.

“I think at this moment it is good to have this kind of test, also against Liverpool. We have to be happy to compete against the top team in England and in Europe.”


Ancelotti insists he has not been surprised by his winning start and paid tribute to the groundwork done by Ferguson.

“I am not surprised because of the spirit in the team,” he said. “The work that Duncan did was really good.

“He increased the spirit of the team and so I found players with character and good attitude.

“This was the reason I didn’t change a lot. We also haven’t had time to change a lot of things.

“It’s not the period to make changes, we have to focus on the games. It can be dangerous to change a lot because players can be confused.

“We have changed a little bit defensively and the players have adapted really well.

“I hope the players can continue because the games will be getting difficult.”

Ancelotti will talk to the club about the transfer window next week but insists he is happy with the current squad.

“The market is not open yet,” he said. “It will open tomorrow. There are a lot of rumours and speculation but that is normal, it happens everywhere in the world.

“I said after January 5 we will have a meeting with the club to see if we can improve the squad.

“But it is a good squad. I didn’t know some of the players but I have a better relationship now and I know them better.”

Meanwhile, Ancelotti has revealed he has been out in the streets of Liverpool having selfies taken with fans.

“I am a manager but I like to live a normal life,” he said. “I like to go to restaurants and to meet people.

“I have had the opportunities for selfies with supporters. I don’t want to spend all my time in my house or at Finch Farm 24 hours a day.”


‘Arsenal need to win games and trophies’ – Arteta backed by Saka to deliver on expectations

The talented teenager claims the arrival of a Spanish coach has already benefited his game and expects collective success to follow in the near future

Bukayo Saka admits Arsenal “need to win games and win trophies” after hitting a serious slump, with Mikel Arteta being backed to turn the tide in north London.

The Gunners have collected only one win from their last 15 games in all competitions and have slipped to 12th in the Premier League.

Arteta has picked up a baton put down by Unai Emery, with Arsenal putting their faith in another Spanish coach.

He is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge he faces at Emirates Stadium, but is considered to be offering early encouragement.

Saka is among those tipping a managerial rookie to deliver an upturn in fortune for the Gunners and get them back on the trophy trail before too long.

The 18-year-old told the club’s official website of Arteta: “He has his own way, his own philosophy and he’s even talked about bringing his own philosophy to the club, to try to bring the club back to the direction we need to be in.

“We need to win games and win trophies, so I feel like he has that vision and that strategy. He knows how he wants us to get there. If we can be on board and do what he wants us to, we’ll do well.”

Academy graduate Saka, who made a senior breakthrough under Emery, claims Arteta has already improved his game and expects Arsenal to benefit as a collective over the coming weeks and months.

The England U19 international added: “He’s someone who understands the players, understands the club and all the ideas that he’s bringing in.

“He has a clear strategy of how he wants us to play and we’re just really excited to work with him.
“He’s teaching us little things that we didn’t know before and just bringing in his own strategies, his own ways of playing. We can see that it’s going to work, we’re just looking forward to doing it.

“Maybe one thing that I’ve picked up straight away is that when nobody’s pressing you, you don’t need to pass the ball. What you can do is just get the ball, drive the ball forward a bit and wait for someone to come to you, commit a player, then pass it.
“Then that man will be free or that man will have less pressure on him. It’s just attracting players before you pass the ball off, which will help our team-mates a lot on the pitch.”

Saka has started both of Arteta’s games at the helm, with a promising talent who initially impressed on the wing being nudged back into a left-back berth for a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth and 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

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