Serie A roundup: Michael Bradley wins it for Roma and AC Milan continues freefall

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Roma 1-0 Udinese:

Another match, another win. That’s nine wins from nine for Michael Bradley’s Roma as they continue to shred their opponents. The American, on as a substitute, scored in the 82nd minute to give 10-man Roma yet another victory.

Already missing Francesco Totti and red-hot winger Gervinho due to injury, Maicon was sent off for his second yellow card with 25 minutes remaining.  The win ends Udinese’s 22-match home unbeaten streak.

Parma 3-2 AC Milan:

The only surprise of the weekend in Serie A play came when AC Milan fell 3-2 on the road at Parma? But is that even a surprise anymore?

Milan now have just two points on the road in Serie A play from three matches, as Marco Parolo’s free kick goal with just seconds left on the clock gave Parma the victory and sent them to seventh in the table, while Milan remain mired in ninth.

The goal was Parolo’s second of the match, his first coming in the 11th minute when he opened the scoring on a rebound.

Antonio Cassano had the third for Parma, while Alessandro Matri and Matias Silvestre found the scoresheet for Milan.

Napoli 2-0 Torino

Gonzalo Higuain converted a pair of early penalties to down Torino.  Dries Mertens was tripped in the box by Nicola Bellomo in the 11th minute for the first, and a handball in the box by Kamil Glik gave them their second.

Migjen Basha was shown a straight red with five minutes to go when he brought down Goran Pandev who was clear on goal.

Juventus 2-0 Genoa

Arturo Vidal slotted home a penalty and Carlos Tevez scored a golazo as Juventus cruised over Genoa.

Both goals came in the first 25 minutes, but Juventus came close a number of other times in a dominating win.

Chievo 1-2 Fiorentina

Juan Cuadrado bagged a double as Fiorentina held on to go fifth in the Serie A table.  The brace overcame an early Chievo lead thanks to a Bostjan Cesar 12th minute header.

Chievo drop to the bottom of the table thanks to results by Sassuolo and Bologna.

Catania 0-0 Sassuolo

Sassuolo rise off the bottom of the table. Nothing else to see here.

Bologna 1-0 Livorno

The home side grabbed their first win of the season courtesy of Jose Angel Crespo’s third-minute score.

SATURDAY:

Inter Milan 4-2 Verona

Inter picked up the first win of their last four matches thanks to goals by Rodrigo Palacio, Esteban Matias Cambiasso, and Rolando plus an own goal from Verona.

Sampdoria 1-0 Atalanta

An odd turn of events saw Sampdoria see out 10-man Atalanta and ease away from the relegation zone.

The home side scored when Shkodran Mustafi headed in for the lead.  Atalanta midfielder Luca Cignarini had tried to hit the ball away but failed.  The referee initially blew his whistle to send off Cignarini and award a penalty, but when the ball trickled in he instead rescinded the red card and allowed the goal.

Atalanta then did in fact lose a man seven minutes later when substitute Constantin Nica was sent off in just his 2nd career Serie A match for a hard tackle.

Wenger: Sanchez, Giroud will both be with Arsenal next year

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Arsene Wenger thinks Alexis Sanchez will sign a new deal at Arsenal this summer, whether the manager changes or not.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Leicester City, Wenger did not offer any clues as to his future with the club. He also said it does not hinge on how the Gunners finish the current campaign, and that he is working on transfers for the benefit of Arsenal regardless of his future.

[ MORE: Will Real open door for Barca? ]

That’s no surprise, given his reputation and fidelity to the club. What may surprise some is Wenger’s confidence that Sanchez will stay at the Emirates Stadium.

From Sky Sports:

“I personally think he will stay and sign. First of all he is happy here, his desire is to stay, that is what I deeply believe.

“I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. The question is why would you sell him to another club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.”

Wenger said both sides want to work out a deal and that the hold-up resides in agent-related matters. He also said Arsenal does not have interest in selling Olivier Giroud, who backed Wenger just over a month ago.

Title fight in Spain: Will Real slip up again?

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Barcelona’s dramatic 3-2 win over Real Madrid has set La Liga’s title race on its ear, with both clubs level on points with 75.

Real still controls its own destiny in a bid for its first league title since 2011-12, but a single loss puts Barcelona in pole position for its fourth title in five seasons.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

The tiebreaker is head-to-head, which Lionel Messi lifted from Real with his thrilling stoppage time thriller on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

Here are the run-ins for both sides, with Real facing a more congested schedule thanks to its status as a UEFA Champions League semifinalist.

Real Madrid

Only two of Real’s remaining five La Liga matches are at home, a boon for Barcelona considering Real boasts a strong home mark. The loss to Barca was Real’s first at the Bernabeu this season, and the Merengues only drew three matches at home (Villarreal, Eibar, Atletico Madrid).

Those home matches, however, are against teams that beat Real in the sides’ other league meetings this year, Sevilla and Valencia.

Wednesday – at Deportivo de la Coruna (16th)
Saturday – vs. Valencia (12th)
May 2 – vs. Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 6 – at Granada (19th)
May 10 – at Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 14 – vs. Sevilla (4th)
May 21 – at Malaga (14th)

Barcelona

Barca is home for three of its remaining five matches. The Blaugranas drew Villarreal and blew out Osasuna and Eibar ahead of the return visits.

As for the road matches, Barca has the Derbi barceloni with Espanyol, having taken the Camp Nou meeting 4-1, as well as a trip to Las Palmas (5-0 at home).

Wednesday – vs. Osasuna (20th)
Saturday – at Espanyol (9th)
May 6 – vs. Villarreal (5th)
May 14 – at Las Palmas (13th)
May 21 – vs. Eibar (8th)
May 27 – vs. Alaves (Copa del Rey Final)

The verdict

Any whiplash Real faces from schedule congestion should be offset by Barcelona’s much tougher schedule. Real could lose again, perhaps versus Sevilla, but Barca will likely finish second thanks to dropped points against Espanyol, Eibar, or Villarreal.

Premier League Weds. preview: Desperation on display

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Two London powers face a race to stay alive for their lofty season goals, while two Northeast sides see their last chances to claim hope for another year in the Premier League.

[ STREAM: All PL games here ]

That’s what’s on the docket for Wednesday’s PL matches, one day after Chelsea buried Southampton 4-2 t0 move seven points clear of Spurs in the race for the league’s 2016-17 crown.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

No team has looked better than Spurs lately, though Palace won’t be bowed by a big name or good form. Sam Allardyce‘s Eagles boast wins at Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a home defeat of Arsenal. Those have all come in 2017, as Palace has leapt to within striking distance of the top half.

Spurs need to win at Selhurst Park to keep pace with Chelsea and sit four points back of the No. 1 spot with five matches to play. Lose, concede, and feel like last April all over again. It was a year from Tuesday that Spurs coughed up a home lead to Leicester and saw any hopes of catching Leicester fade into the sunset.

Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET

This Tees-Wear Derby oozes desperation, with Sunderland knowing it needs to win its matches-in-hand on Hull City and Swansea to have any hope of staying up, and Middlesbrough nearly as desperate.

Boro’s 24 points is three more than Sunderland, who has played one less game. Hull sits 17th with 33 points while Swansea holds 31.

Middlesbrough hasn’t won in the Premier League since Dec. 17, a run of 16 matches. Their only wins of the year are over lower league opposition, a trio of victories against Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington Stanley, and Oxford United.

Sunderland has just one league win since that same date in December, and that came at Crystal Palace. The Black Cats have lost six of eight, and look destined to join Boro in the second tier as Northeast neighbors Newcastle comes up.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images )

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — 2:45 p.m. ET

Did Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester City snap Arsenal out of its funk, or was it just a matter of Alexis Sanchez’s class squeezing a bit of excellence out of the tube?

Arsene Wenger will hope for the latter, because Arsenal’s Top Four hopes hinge on winning its matches-in-hand on Liverpool and getting significant help from Man City and Manchester United. Their opposition will also be rested, having rested since bowing out of the UEFA Champions League on April 18.

Leicester’s five match winning streak, part of Craig Shakespeare’s new manager bounce, has died down a bit. The Foxes lost at Everton and drew at Palace, and get a third tricky road test in a row at the Emirates Stadium.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”