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International Soccer
Adebayor benefiting from a change of scenery

Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It is often said that a change of scenery can do wonders for a person, and that certainly seems to be the case for Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

The Togo international has been a huge success at Eastlands this season since making a summer switch from Arsenal, and his re-emergence after one down season in north London is a big reason why many around Manchester believe that City has what it takes to make a legitimate run at a top-four spot.

Adebayor has tallied one goal in each of City's first four wins, and he may have notched his most satisfying goal of the season on Saturday in City's 4-2 victory over Arsenal.

With the Citizens clinging to a 2-1 lead as the game entered the final 10 minutes, Adebayor headed home a cross from Shaun Wright-Phillips to secure all three points against his old side, and he then showed just how much animosity he still has for his former club.

After scoring, Adebayor raced all the way down to the other end of the field where the traveling Arsenal supporters were seated so he could let them know how much joy he got out of burying them.

"We have to cut Emmanuel a bit of slack," said City manager Mark Hughes. "He is an emotional guy and was caught up in the moment. It was a fantastic goal and great finish.

Emmanuel Adebayor has tallied one goal in each of City's first four wins.
"We just have to understand that he is an emotional guy and he wanted to share the moment with the fans in the corner with whom he has a special affinity. It is the same area that the Arsenal fans were in so there is the potential for people to see it as the wrong thing to do. We recognize that and so does he."

Hughes can't possibly be that naive, and he is just trying to protect his player, who could very well face disciplinary action from the English FA, but at this point, a suspension may be the only thing that prevents Adebayor from scoring more goals.

He is showing signs of the form that allowed him to have a breakout season with Arsenal during the 2007-08 campaign when he bagged 29 goals in all competitions.

Last season, everything went south as he was heavily linked with a move to either Barcelona or AC Milan, and the fact that he didn't exactly deny those reports didn't help the situation.

This drew the ire of the Arsenal supporters, and combined with a slow start, made Adebayor the target for fans who were upset with Arsenal's underachieving season.

However, the striker joined City along with high-profile summer signings Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz at forward, and although the goals have not flown in like many expected, Adebayor is doing more than his share.

The Arsenal contest represented City's first real test of the season, and despite passing with flying colors, Hughes is remaining cautious.

"We will only know how significant this result is at the end of the season," he said. "But it has done us no harm whatsoever. There were a lot of eyes and focus on us and we put down another marker. It was a test and a challenge for everyone and we have come through and there will be more of those as the season progresses."

Up next for City is a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, but as long as Adebayor is in the lineup, City will be expecting more goals.

The following strikers have also gotten their seasons off to strong starts, for various reasons:

DIDIER DROGBA (CHELSEA):

The Ivory Coast international didn't need a change of scenery, he needed a new manager, and the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti from AC Milan seems to be fitting just fine. Under former boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, Drogba was often the second option to teammate Nicolas Anelka as he was handed just 15 starts in league play. When Scolari was replaced in midseason by Guus Hiddink, his play improved, and he looks to be back to his old self, scoring four goals in Chelsea's first five games, which have all been wins.

WAYNE ROONEY (MANCHESTER UNTED):

Rooney scored 12 goals in the league last season for Manchester United, which is not bad for most strikers, but Rooney is not most strikers, and many United fans were looking for more from the 23-year-old England star. With Cristiano Ronaldo on the field, Rooney was often not playing like a true striker as he was pushed out wide and often dropped back into the midfield to receive the ball. With Ronaldo's departure to Real Madrid over the summer, Rooney has returned to a more central role and has flourished, scoring five times in United's first five games.

JERMAIN DEFOE (TOTTENHAM):

Defoe split time last season between Portsmouth and Tottenham, but since the opening day of the new season, he has established himself as manager Harry Redknapp's first-choice striker. Defoe shares the league lead with Rooney with five goals, including a hat trick against Hull City and an acrobatic bicycle kick against Manchester United, and his play is a big reason why Tottenham started the season with three wins before losing to United this past weekend. The presence of both Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane will help Defoe carry the scoring load, although a broken leg suffered by Luka Modric will put some pressure back on that trio.

DARREN BENT (SUNDERLAND):

The presence of Bent at Tottenham last season was one reason why Defoe left White Hart Lane, and after scoring 12 goals for Spurs in 33 appearances, it was a bit of a surprise to see Bent leave London to join Sunderland. However, he has made himself at home in the northeast with four goals through five games, giving the Black Cats a steady option at striker alongside last season's leading scorer, Kenwyne Jones. Sunderland appeared to be a relegation candidate before this season began, but with three wins in five games, those fears have been alleviated for now.



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

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