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Serie A: Higuain gets a double, Napoli and Lazio win

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The peak of the Serie A table stayed unchanged as teams placed 2-4 all kept pace with Juventus by winning on Sunday, also all earning clean sheets.

Second-placed Napoli went ahead early and took care of Sassuolo for a 2-0 win at Stadio San Paulo. Adam Ounas scored the opener just four minutes in on quite a stunning goal as he intercepted a back-pass off his chest and controlled the ball around Giangiacomo Magnani. He took a brilliant touch to pop the ball up in the air over the defender, and ripped a left-footed blast on the volley for an impressive finish. Lorenzo Insigne put the game away in the 72nd minute with his seventh goal of the season. The defense gave him far too much space to tee up a shot outside the top of the box, and he curled one into the top-right corner.

Lazio needed just a goal from Ciro Immobile in the 37th minute to hold serve at home over Fiorentina with a 1-0 victory. It came on a set-piece, as Lazio delivered one of its five corners. Stefan Radu got his head to it from the penalty spot and sent it to the far post, where Immobile was there to tap it in for his sixth goal of the season. The win pushed Lazio as high as third, although they would fall to fourth by the end of the day.

Sampdoria – at the time – secured its spot in a Champions League place for another week as Lorenzo Tonelli got his first goal with the club in the 76th minute of a 1-0 road win over Atalanta. Tonelli got his head to a corner and directed it inside the near post, as Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini was incredibly late to react. The 28-year-old Tonelli joined Sampdoria this summer from on loan after he barely featured for Napoli last season. The three points pushed Sampdoria up to fourth, although Inter jumped them after their late kick.

AC Milan also won its second straight, the club’s first winning streak of the season, with a 3-1 victory over Chievo Verona. Gonzalo Higuain grabbed a brace, scoring first-half goals seven minutes apart to put Milan in control.

His first came on a bit of sloppy play with Chievo unable to clear. A Hakan Calhanoglu cross was too far over the box, but Suso was able to collect on the right edge of the box, and with the defense out of sorts, his low bullet found Higuain in the middle of the box for a simple poke inside the near post. Then, past the half-hour mark, Suso again found the Argentinian, this time through the center with a clinical through-ball that left Higuain free on goal. Giacomo Bonaventura grabbed Milan’s third after halftime, while Sergio Pellissier picked up Chievo’s consolation just past the hour mark.

Earlier in the day, Parma moved into the top half of the table with a 3-1 road win at Genoa. They went behind just six minutes in via Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek who bagged his league-leading ninth goal of the season, but Luca Rigoni would equalize soon after thanks to a terrible mistake by Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu who attempted to punch a corner but whiffed. Luca Siligardi put Parma in front with a deflected strike, and by the 30th minute Fabio Ceravolo completed the scoreline

Mauro Icardi’s double saved Inter’s day as the visitors won 2-1 over SPAL at Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara. Icardi struck first 14 minutes in on a stunning header from an impossible angle. Inter pushed to get the ball into the box, but with SPAL continuing to clear, Sime Vrsaljko lofted a ball in from the right flank and Icardi, with his back to net and near the end line at the near post, somehow flicked a bouncing header across the face of goal and in past Alfred Gomis. SPAL equalized on a sleepy moment by Inter defender Miranda to let Alberto Paloschi leak behind and score, but it wouldn’t stay level long.Ivan Perisic fed Icardi just five minutes later with a beautiful through-ball down the left and the Argentine finished with ease for the 2-1 win. The win moves Inter to third, above Lazio and Sampdoria.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.