MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United's post-Alex Ferguson dip has opened the door for a number of challengers in the Premier League, with Arsenal and Liverpool the first teams to capitalize this season. The Premier League resumes after the two-week international break with Arsenal, rejuvenated by the signing of Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil, top of the standings on goal difference from Liverpool after seven matches. SENT. 750 words. By Steve Douglas.
LONDON -- England coach Roy Hodgson apologized after making a joke about a monkey in space during a halftime talk during a World Cup qualifier. SENT. 270 words.
GENEVA -- Veteran Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld announced Thursday he will leave his job after the World Cup, just as his improving young team was confirmed as a top seed for the tournament. SENT. By Graham Dunbar.
ZURICH -- Belgium, Colombia and Switzerland will be three of the eight seeded teams at the World Cup because of their FIFA ranking. SENT.
BARCELONA, Spain -- The Spanish league returns after an international break with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both seeking a ninth straight win to start the season. While Barcelona hopes to have Lionel Messi back, Real Madrid expects Gareth Bale also to return from injury before the two teams face tough Champions League matches midweek. SENT. By Joseph Wilson.
FRANKFURT, Germany -- The Bundesliga season resumes after the international break with undefeated front-runner Bayern Munich hosting struggling Mainz and Borussia Dortmund at home to Hannover. SENT. By Nesha Starcevic.
ROME -- It's 1 vs. 2 in Serie A on Friday when Roma attempts to extend its seven-match winning streak against a Napoli squad that's only blemish is one draw. SENT. By Andrew Dampf. 700 words.
PARIS -- Five years ago, Lyon and Bordeaux were title contenders. This season, they are far behind in the race for a European berth. On Sunday, Bordeaux meets Lyon in a match that will put the losing coach in a tough spot. SENT. By Trung Latieule.
CAIRO -- The Egyptian Football Association's board of directors will meet on Monday to "discuss" the heavy 6-1 loss to Ghana in the first leg of their World Cup playoff, a surprisingly one-sided defeat which has put American coach Bob Bradley's future in doubt and restored a feeling of gloom to the North African country's top sport. SENT.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Pakistan survived top order batting jitters on Thursday to notch a rare seven-wicket victory over top-ranked South Africa with more than a day to spare in the first test. SENT. By Rizwan Ali. 600 words.
MOSCOW -- Former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur extended her winning streak to seven matches by beating Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of the Kremlin Cup Thursday. SENT.
TEN-ERSTE BANK OPEN
VIENNA -- Top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga starts his quest for a second title at the Erste Bank Open against Daniel Brands of Germany, while No. 2 Tommy Haas takes on the son of 1988 Olympic champion Miloslav Mecir for a place in the quarterfinals. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1500 GMT.
PERTH, Australia -- Needing a win to retain his European Tour card, Peter Hedblom started in cool, calm fashion Thursday by shooting a 4-under 68 for a share of the lead with Jin Jeong of South Korea and two Australians after the first round of the Perth International. SENT.
INCHEON, South Korea -- Suzann Pettersen will be aiming to defend her title and keep up her push to surpass top-ranked local favorite Inbee Park at this weekend's KEB HanaBank Championship. SENT.
-- WASHINGTON-- HKN--NHL Roundup. SENT. 200 words.
-- DETROIT -- BC-BBA--AL PLAYOFFS. SENT. By Noah Trister. 600 words.
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