Ancelotti keeps focus on Serie A rather than Arsenal
Carlo Ancelotti insists it is far too soon to think about Arsenal as he prepares his Napoli side for Sunday’s Serie A trip to Roma.
Napoli face the Gunners in the Europa League quarter-finals next month.
That competition is now Napoli’s only realistic hope of silverware this season as they trail Serie A leaders Juventus by 15 points.
But Ancelotti does not want to see his team’s grip on second place loosened and is wary of a Roma side pushing for Champions League qualification.
Ancelotti told reporters at his pre-match press conference: “Going with the thought of the London game would be crazy. Let’s think about tomorrow’s match and face Roma with the right attitude.
“From Roma, I expect a big game. They are under a lot of pressure these days and this will lead the players to be motivated and eager to give their best. We must play with courage and intensity.”
Ancelotti, the veteran former boss of AC Milan, Juventus, Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, is also a revered figure at Roma following his successful playing career.
The game marks his first return to the Stadio Olimpico as an opposition manager since he left Milan in 2009.
The 59-year-old said: “They represent something special for my career, I was there for eight years. That period there remains in my heart.”
Napoli, who have a seven-point cushion over third-placed Inter Milan, will be without striker Lorenzo Insigne due to a muscle problem but he could return for the midweek trip to Empoli.
Ancelotti will come up against another experienced campaigner in Claudio Ranieri, the former Fulham manager who took caretaker charge of Roma earlier this month.
The 67-year-old’s aim is to secure a top-four spot. His side are currently fifth with a four-point gap to make up on AC Milan.
Ranieri is demanding a response after criticising the team following their loss to SPAL last time out.
Ranieri said on the club’s website, www.asroma.com: “If I used strong words, it’s because I expect a strong reaction from the team.
“As a coach, you always do things for a reason. What I expect from the Roma players, who are very good players, is a big show of character.
“I believe this team has the potential to fight for a place in the Champions League. There are sides above us who are going strong but I hope my players can respond to any adversity.”