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International Soccer
EPL weekend headlines

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Another weekend and more dominance from Manchester as City outclassed Wigan, 3-0, with Sergio Aguero scoring a hat trick, while United handled Bolton, 5-0, courtesy of three goals from Wayne Rooney.

The title will certainly not be won in the opening four weeks of the season, but it is already becoming evident that Manchester's top two clubs seem intent on setting a blistering pace that the rest of the league will struggle to keep up with.

Stoke City is occupying a lofty position in the table as the Potters topped Liverpool, 1-0, to move into fourth, while Arsenal's 1-0 win over Swansea City was anything but convincing, with Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm committing a terrible blunder to hand the Gunners their lone goal.

STOKE ENJOYING THE VIEW FROM FOURTH

Through the first four games of the EPL season Stoke City has emerged as the surprise package, claiming eight points from its first four games, including a draw with Chelsea and a 1-0 win over Liverpool this past weekend.

It has been just four games, and we have certainly seen surprise teams like Hull City and Blackpool enjoy strong starts in recent years only to end up battling relegation by the end of the season.

But the Potters appear to be a team with more staying power based on their stubborn defense and good form at home.

The Potters appear to be a team with more staying power based on their stubborn defense and good form at home.
Tony Pulis saw his team finish 13th in the league last season, but they made the Britannia Stadium an unwanted destination for Premiership opposition, claiming 34 of their 46 points on home soil.

The club also showed a bit of ambition on transfer deadline day by shelling out $16 million for striker Peter Crouch, while also acquiring Cameron Jerome and Wilson Palacios to shore up an improving team.

Those new additions should provide some needed punch for an attack that has yielded just three goals in four games, although they have only conceded one.

ADEBAYOR ENJOYS ANOTHER STRONG DEBUT

Emmanuel Adebayor seems to put a lot of stock in first impressions based on the fact that the Togo international has now scored in his debut for Arsenal, Manchester City, and most recently, Tottenham.

Adebayor joined Spurs on loan in August and he marked his debut with a 67th- minute goal that broke a scoreless deadlock with Wolverhampton on Saturday, sparking Tottenham to a 2-0 win.

After being outscored 8-1 in its opening two games by Manchester City and Manchester United, the win was a welcome result for Harry Redknapp's team, which will be preparing for another big test against Liverpool next weekend.

With Spurs selling striker Peter Crouch to Stoke City on deadline day, Adebayor is a perfect addition to pair alongside Jermain Defoe.

The 27-year-old is a good target man who has had plenty of success in England with both City and Arsenal.

He tallied 34 goals in the league for Arsenal in his two seasons prior to joining City, where he went on to score 14 times in his first year at Eastlands.

Adebayor fell out of favor with City boss Roberto Mancini last season and spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Real Madrid, and although he has three years remaining on his City contract, he has already revealed that his relationship with the club is damaged beyond repair.

If properly motivated Adebayor has the potential for a big season in North London with playmakers like Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart setting him up.

And maybe the opportunity to find a home at White Hart Lane beyond this season.

GYAN TAKES THE MONEY AND RUNS TO UAE

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is under pressure after failing to record a win in any of the first four games for the Black Cats.

But things got worse over the weekend as last season's leading scorer, Asamoah Gyan, secured a loan move to United Arab Emirates outfit Al-Ain.

Bruce was visibly upset when asked about the move following Sunderland's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, expressing his disappointment at the fact that the Ghana international would leave the Premiership to play in an inferior league.

However, it became clear what the motivation behind the move was as reports have indicated that Gyan will see a sizable increase in his wages upon his arrival at Al-Ain.

The departure does not come at a good time with Sunderland having scored only two goals in four games and Bruce struggling to hang onto his job. Now the club will ask more of its new summer additions, Nicklas Bendtner, Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham.

Following the sale of Darren Bent last January, Gyan teamed with Danny Welbeck to help the Black Cats move into the top half of the league before a late- season swoon.

But Welbeck has returned to Manchester United with his loan deal having expired, leaving Bruce to rely on the inconsistent Bendtner.

Gyan was not the most clinical finisher in front of goal, but he is much better at creating chances than any of the strikers currently on the team's roster.

Sunderland will reportedly receive a nice fee for the loan, but that won't help the team score goals, or increase Bruce's job security.

LOOKING AHEAD

There is no doubt that the marquee matchup next weekend takes place at Old Trafford as Manchester United hosts Chelsea on Sunday.

United has stormed to the top of the league with four successive wins by a combined score of 18-3.

Chelsea has flown below the radar a bit, but after a 0-0 draw at Stoke City to open the season, the Blues have reeled off three straight wins to stay within two points of the defending champions.

The title race could potentially turn into a two-team battle very quickly, with United and Manchester City looking to be in a different class at the moment.

But a good result for Chelsea on Sunday could slow some of United's momentum and remind the rest of the league that quality exists outside of Manchester.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Tim Keeble at tkeeble@sportsnetwork.com.

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