Before he scored the first two goals in Real Madrid's 4-0 Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur last week, Emmanuel Adebayor did what he does before every game. He thought of all the people that had written him off. It's not a short list. It starts with the friends of his parents back in Kodjoviakope, a Togolese town on the border of Ghana, who said he should not play soccerl, includes coaches at Metz and Monaco who criticized his attitude, and takes in senior figures at Arsenal and Manchester City, with whom he has not always seen eye-to-eye.
Last weekend's English Premier League results had a season-defining air about them, with the destination of the trophy suddenly looking much clearer and the race for the remaining Champion League places looking more open than ever.
In this early stage of the English Premier League season, experience has played a major role in two contrasting ways. The club at the top of the league is reaping the benefits of it, with Ryan Giggs flourishing for Manchester United. At the other end of the standings, judging by its current plight, rock-bottom Portsmouth hasn't taken heed of history.
Manchester City's headline-grabbing 4-2 home win over Arsenal last weekend delivered more talking points than a double-bill Oprah healthcare special. City struggled to contain a probing, possession-heavy Arsenal offense. But on the break, the speed of Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips pierced a dispersed Gunners defense three times over a frenetic 10-minute second-half spell.
Deadly, lethal, prolific -- just a few adjectives often used to describe Team Limey's nightclub performances on a Saturday night. Back in the real world, these are apt descriptions of the elite goal-scorers discussed in this week's column. More specifically, we're looking at who we think will be donning the Golden Boot as the English Premier League's top scorer this season.
Sven-Göran Eriksson must be kicking himself for not surviving the sack at Manchester City. After being given a top-10 target after he took the job in July 2007, the former England manager steered the club to ninth place in the Premier League that season, his first in charge. Notorious City fan and Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher told the BBC that Eriksson "gave us a bit of style and dignity and grace. He bought some great players." It was "the best season I can remember."
It has been a weird summer of transfers. Most of Europe's top leagues kick off next month and yet, with a few exceptions (Real Madrid and, to a lesser degree, Juventus and Bayern Munich), there hasn't been too much going on. The window won't close until Aug. 31. In the meantime, here's an attempt at making sense of it all, with 11 questions facing 11 big clubs:
Three English teams clinched the semifinals of the European Champions League this week, representing the Premier League's finest hour since ... well, since last season, when three English teams achieved the same feat. As they did the season before that. Indeed, only a much-fancied Barcelona side can prevent a second all-England final. With Team Limey all cock-a-hoop with jingoistic cockiness, we look back at those quarterfinal second legs, starting with the thriller at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United is running rampant. Last Saturday, the Red Devils demolished eighth-place Aston Villa 4-0 at Old Trafford and remain five points clear of Chelsea in the English Premier League race. The standard of United's soccer was so sublime, the score line actually flattered the losers.
And the English Football Association rejoices. Three of the four Premier League teams in this week's Champions League action reached the final eight, and thanks to UEFA's random fumbling of their balls, none of them will face each other in the quarterfinals.