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Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked by Napoli and the Italian has already been linked with the vacant manager’s role at Arsenal, so how could the Gunners line up if he takes over at the Emirates?
Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Napoli on Thursday evening, shortly after steering the Serie A side into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 4-0 win over Genk. The Italian has already been linked with a move to Arsenal, who are without a manager since the departure of Unai Emery last month.
Ancelotti oversaw Napoli’s second-place finish in Serie A last season but a dramatic downturn in results this campaign led to the 60-year-old being given the boot.
The Azzurri are without a domestic victory in seven matches, although they secured passage into the knockout stages of the Champions League with victory over Genk.
Ancelotti’s 73rd and final game in charge was decided by a first-half treble from Arkadiusz Milik before Dries Mertens added gloss to the scoreline from the penalty spot after the break.
And the Italian outfit remain the only team to beat Premier League leaders Liverpool in 90 minutes this season, having triumphed 2-0 at the Stadio San Paolo in September.
But a public fall-out between Ancelotti, his players and Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis hastened the manager’s sacking, with the decision appearing to have been made prior to kick-off against Genk.
Ancelotti’s departure has put Arsenal on high alert with the veteran boss a proven winner in England during his time at Chelsea.
A Premier League and FA Cup double at Stamford Bridge in 2009/10 catches the eye on a CV that also boasts three Champions League trophies and league titles with AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
Freddie Ljungberg is currently in charge at Arsenal, acting in an interim manager capacity, although it appears unlikely that he will be handed the role permanently.
The Gunners are yet to make any official contact with Ancelotti but the former Napoli boss is reportedly on a list of suitable candidates including former Valencia manager Marcelino and club legends Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta.
In particular, Arsenal are looking for a manager to steady the ship after a tumultuous few months that saw club captain Granit Xhaka spectacularly fall out with the Gunners fanbase.
The club’s worst run of results in two decades hastened Emery’s demise, while he failed to extract the best from high-profile stars such as Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.
Ancelotti’s arrival could see Arsenal settle on a 4-4-2 formation, with the Italian having preferred this set-up throughout his reign at Napoli.
This would allow both Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to operate centrally, instead of the Gabon striker being shifted out wide.
Lacazette was dropped by Ljungberg for the 3-1 win over West Ham on Monday, allowing Aubameyang to play through the middle while Gabriel Martinelli impressed on the wing.
The Brazilian’s performances this campaign are a welcome boost to any incoming boss, giving them more options in attack alongside the senior strikers.
Pepe – who Ancelotti tried to sign at Napoli – also shone against the Hammers and would expected to line up on the right of a 4-4-2, although such a formation would see mercurial playmaker Mesut Ozil pushed out to the opposite wing.
This set-up was utilised by Ancelotti in Florence to get Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Hirving Lozano into the same starting XI, and Arsenal fans would hope to see the same sort of fluidity at the Emirates.
Xhaka has quietly re-established himself in central midfield after his period of exile and would look to anchor the side, partnered by one of Matteo Guendouzi or Lucas Torreira.
Ancelotti signed David Luiz for Chelsea in 2011 so the Brazilian should return to the starting XI alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos but Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are both currently sidelined with injuries.
Therefore, Calum Chambers is most likely to line up at right-back while Sead Kolasinac will deputise on the opposite side of defence when a new boss takes the reins.
(4-4-2): Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Pepe, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang