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Pep Guardiola insists his love for Napoli is genuine

Ever since Manchester City were drawn in Champions League Group F with Napoli, the club’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola has been effusive in his praise of the Serie A leaders and their coach Maurizio Sarri.
The teams clash at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday in a game Guardiola believes could be a feast of attacking football. But his recent words, including the suggestion that the Italians are among the top three sides in Europe, led Napoli’s outspoken president Aurelio De Laurentiis to suggest there may be mind games at work.
Guardiola laughed off those remarks and insisted he was a genuine admirer of Sarri and his team. “I heard from president of Napoli in Gazzetta (dello Sport) that my words are just to distract Napoli but it is just what I believe,” the Spaniard told reporters on Monday.
“I believe they are a really good team in all senses but if the president prefers to hear they are a disaster then I can say that as well,” he said with a grin. “Maybe you don’t believe me. If I say good things about Napoli it is because I truly believe what i’m saying. I don’t need to compliment them. They are a great team,” he said.
“They are very good when they play with the ball. They can build actions really well, they are able to push forward and do so many things well. Tomorrow when we are on the pitch we will both try to attack, both teams will want to keep the ball and score as many as possible. I think when you have two teams that want to play in this way you get a really interesting match,” he added.
Napoli have made a perfect start to the Serie A season, winning all eight games and scoring 26 goals with a style of play that is more expansive and attacking than is traditional for Italian teams.
“They do many, many things and the things they do they do perfectly,” Guardiola said. “It is not a team that is going to wait. They make high pressing and to amazing build up in the middle.
“They have three guys who are so dynamic, (Lorenzo) Insigne, (Dries) Mertens and (Jose Maria) Callejon. In the middle they have (Marek) Hamsik who can also run in behind,” he said.
Guardiola said he had first noticed Sarri during his spell at previous club Empoli and said he could be viewed as an innovator in a similar fashion to former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi.
“I like to watch football and I like to watch Napoli when I am sat in my home,” Guardiola said. I love many, many things about a Sarri team. Tuesday is a big test. For me it is fascinating to have a challenge. Hopefully those who watch it will enjoy it”.

Hellas Verona 1 - 0 Benevento: Romulo fires Hellas Verona to first league win of the season against Benevento

Romulo fired Hellas Verona to their first win of the Serie A season as 10-man Benevento went down 1-0 in an eighth straight defeat.
Verona dominated the first half with Alessio Cerci shooting over before Mattia Valoti clattered a post from close range.
Benevento went down to 10 men when Luca Antei fouled Valoti to see red but the southerners avoided further punishment when, just before half-time, Giampaolo Pazzini hit the crossbar from yards out.
Second-half substitute Moise Kean reinvigorated Verona's forward line and the Juventus loanee was soon testing Alberto Brignoli with a left-footed drive.
In the 74th minute Romulo made the breakthrough. Daniele Verde rapidly made up ground on the counter-attack before crossing for his Brazilian team-mate to finish on the volley.
With time running out Pietro Iemmello spurned an opportunity to grab a point for Benevento when he missed the mark from a promising one-on-one with Nicolas.

AFL trades 2017: Eagles, Port Adelaide complete trade for Brendon Ah Chee

Brendon Ah Chee will play for West Coast next season after a deal was struck with Port Adelaide on Tuesday.
The Eagles will receive Ah Chee and a 2018 fourth-round pick.
The Power will receive the Eagles’ 2018 third-round pick.
Ah Chee flagged an off-season move earlier this year after being consistently overlooked despite his solid SANFL form.
The South Fremantle product will join an Eagles midfield desperate for fresh ball-winners after losing Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell to retirement.
More soon...

Leicester City 1 - 1 West Bromwich(WBA): Leicester's home struggles against West Brom continue as they are held to a draw

Leicester were unable to end their home hoodoo against West Brom after a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium.
The West Midlands side are now unbeaten in eight visits to the venue, winning five, and it always looked like a record they would extend after Nacer Chadli gave them the lead with a superb 30-yard free-kick.
Riyad Mahrez equalised with 10 minutes remaining but Leicester were unable to go on and get that elusive victory, meaning the last time they won at home against West Brom was January 1994 - Iwan Roberts scoring twice in a 3-2 success at Filbert Street.
There were full home debuts for Leicester's summer signings Kelechi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra while Danny Simpson made his 100th appearance for the club.
Visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster missed out with a knee problem so Boaz Myhill made his first Premier League start since April 2016, while Chadli started a league match for the first time this season.
The first half had few chances, little excitement and even less quality. Leicester had much of the ball but lacked ideas about how to penetrate a typically well-drilled Tony Pulis defensive unit, while West Brom were bereft of adventure from an attacking sense.
The only effort of note in an attritional first half came after 36 minutes. Myhill prevented Simpson from marking his milestone with a rare goal when he pushed away a driven shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area. Iborra was unable to control his attempt on the rebound and the ball went over the crossbar.
The match could only improve as a spectacle and the second half started with Jamie Vardy beating Myhill to a loose ball right on the edge of the penalty area. The West Brom goalkeeper received a yellow card for bringing down the nippy striker before keeping out a header from Harry Maguire from the resulting free-kick.
Mahrez then missed a glorious opportunity to put Leicester ahead, lifting his effort over from 10 yards out following good work down the left-hand side from Vardy and Marc Albrighton.
The Algerian's aberration proved costly as 10 minutes later Chadli curled in a lovely free-kick from 30 yards out, leaving Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel stranded.
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare, a former player, coach and caretaker manager for West Brom, made a double substitution after 72 minutes, bringing on Ben Chilwell and Islam Slimani, with Simpson and Iheanacho making way.
Six minutes later, the changes worked to perfection with the equaliser as Chilwell crossed for Slimani to head into the path of Mahrez, who atoned for his earlier miss with a tidy piece of chest control and low finish.
Myhill had to help a swerving long-range strike from Maguire over the bar as Leicester pushed for a winner - but West Brom comfortably held on and both teams are now without a win in six Premier League matches.

Twist in new Kiwis jersey

Should Manu Ma'u take the field for Tonga when they meet the Kiwis next month, he will be going to battle against a group of men wearing jerseys which have part of him incorporated into them.
The new Kiwis World Cup jerseys unveiled this week feature hand-drawn elements taken from the tattoos of several current players, including Ma'u, who was among a group of stars who elected to represent Tonga rather than the New Zealand at the tournament. 
It's a quirk sure to prove controversial for some but according to the designer of the jersey, Kiwis cultural advisor Ora Kihi, there was no thought of changing the strip following Ma'u's deflection. 
"He's still a part of this Kiwis legacy... he's a part of what happened and he will always be a part of what happened," Kihi said.
"Even though we [will] go and play against him, we say 'brother, you are still a part of this team, we respect you for that'.
"There's players who are still there now, there's players who have moved on to other countries, but they will still be a part of this jersey."
The Kiwis take on Tonga in their final pool game on November 11 at Waikato Stadium.
The shirt also features predominant designs from the tattoos of overlooked hooker Issac Luke, along with prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Kihi said the unique concept, which he been in the working for three years, is thought to be the first of its kind for an international sporting team and follows on from a similar idea which was incorporated into the jerseys New Zealand wore in their 2014 Four Nations clash against Samoa. 
"I had been taking pictures of the Kiwi players for about three years and just finding the right opportunity of when to bring it together," Kihi said. 
"[I've been] going to some individual players over that time and asking them would they like to be a part of this; asking them what is the most important thing within their tattoos that they would like to be added or incorporated into this design.
"So a lot of the things that you see on the jersey are what the players really wanted, what that particular part on their body was about and the reason they play football.
"For us it's a visual genealogy tree of the players that have played in the jersey."
In a further effort to embrace their culture, the Kiwis will depart for a four-day camp at Turangawaewae Marae in the Waikato on Tuesday before heading back to Auckland to prepare for their opening World Cup match against Samoa on October 28.

Alvaro Morata boosts Chelsea ahead of Roma clash in Champions League

Alvaro Morata is primed to lead Chelsea’s attack against AS Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday as the Blues seek to quickly erase the embarrassment of their weekend loss to the Premier League’s bottom club Crystal Palace.
The Spaniard missed the 2-1 defeat after injuring his hamstring against Manchester City before the international break.
But the 58 million-pound ($77 million) striker underwent full training on Sunday and Chelsea captain Gary Cahill indicated his return is imminent.
“He is back out on the pitch and hopefully he keeps progressing okay,” said Cahill.
That will be welcome news to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte who substituted Morata’s replacement Michy Batshuayi on Saturday after 57 minutes of his second league start of the season.
A nine-point gap separates Chelsea from leaders City but the Blues top their Champions League group, two points ahead of second-placed Roma, after winning both opening Group C games.
One of Morata’s seven goals this season came in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid, a result and performance that suggested the London club could be a real force in the competition.
But injuries are biting into a squad that has been criticised for being too thin, with deadline-day signing Danny Drinkwater still unfit and N’golo Kante, another hamstring victim, out for several weeks.
In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Chelsea’s defence was badly exposed on Saturday and Cahill is expecting a marked improvement on Wednesday.
“When you have had a bad result and a bad performance, you want to play again as soon as possible, which is midweek for us, to try to put it right,” Cahill told the club’s website.
“My role as a skipper now is to go into training and be positive and go again. The result is gone and you go in and you work and produce a performance on Wednesday that we know we can, get that winning feeling back and then we go from there.”

Attack proving best form of defence for Manchester City

Manchester City tightening up at the back as their goalscoring exploits mount comes as no surprise to manager Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City emphatically overcoming last season's jitters in front of goal has directly contributed to them becoming a more solid defensive unit.
Rueing missed chances was a familiar post-match lament for Guardiola during his debut campaign in England as City faded from the Premier League title picture at the turn of the year.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has been unable to have any such complaints this time around, with Saturday's 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City continuing a nine-match winning run across all competitions that has also featured 5-0 victories over Liverpool and Crystal Palace, along with a 6-0 triumph at Watford.
A brace from Gabriel Jesus at the weekend and one apiece for Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva gave City a two point lead from neighbours Manchester United at the Premier League summit, while their 29 goals in the first eight matches is the best top-flight return since 30 from Everton 123 years ago in the 1894-95 season.
"We are almost the same guys as last season, but now we have the feeling we are going to score a goal, "Guardiola told reporters following a performance versus Stoke that he labelled as the best of his City tenure
"Don't ask me why, because the principles, as I have repeated many times, are the same. Last season, we had that feeling we weren't going to score a goal, but now we've got it.
"We have the feeling that if we arrive, we will score a goal. Of course, it's so important. We play to score goals. Ever since I arrived, we have wanted to make our game.
"We have to increase the little details, to do things quick and simple. With that rhythm, we create more chances and goals."
Stoke were the first team to score against Guardiola's men in the Premier League since Bournemouth in August and their goals-against column reads a miserly four.
Ederson, a £35million signing from Benfica, has proved an assuring presence in goal after Claudio Bravo's erratic efforts last term, while John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have grown in stature as a centre-back partnership during Vincent Kompany's latest calf injury absence.
The bulk of Guardiola's close-season spending was focused on the full-back areas and has paid dividends, even allowing for Benjamin Mendy now being sidelined by cruciate knee ligament damage, but he maintained improvements at both ends of the field go hand in hand.
"I know there is a tendency to split attack and defence. In football, you cannot," said Guardiola, whose men host similarly free-scoring Serie A leaders Napoli on Tuesday.
"So when you attack well, you defend well, and when you defend well, you attack well.
"When you have the feeling you are going to score goals, you defend better. When you defend better, you are going to score more. It's not a coincidence.
"It's difficult to find a team who have a lot of clean sheets but do not score goals. It's so, so difficult to find it.
"Everything depends on everything. Football is dynamic: attack, defend, attack, defend, in a row. That's why we have good statistics in those terms."