As we go into unprecedented territory of potentially sealing our own ‘title deciding’ fate against Emmanuel Adebayor’s ‘parent club’ and extortionate pay-packet contributers in the month of January, it seems fitting to conduct a mid-term assessment of the man who continues to divide opinion. So often our tormenter, as yet, he has not shaken off his CV to be fully embraced by the White Hart Lane faithful. His rarely heard (now adapted) chant acknowledges this. Witnessing him in our colours, its still difficult not to suffer flashbacks from the two goals at the Bernabeu and him volleying home a third (on top of 7 other goals against us for the Gooners) at White Hart Lane in our last home defeat to London opposition. However, he needs to do more than reverse his negative goal tally against us to deserve the undroppable status he has achieved in a great team many strikers would relish turning out for. Use the weekend off to take heed Emmanuel;
A less languid Adebayor would see the games which we dominate but edge by one or two goals turn into a long awaited mauling that only Liverpool have been on the end of. A City fan told me shortly after signing Adebayor, that he only tries in his first five games. While this may be an exaggeration, he has indeed scored on his debut for Arsenal, City and us, looking brighter in earlier games. Of course, he has not scored in his last five starts and as has been said before, promising moves regularly break down at his feet. Adebayor is too reliant on the creative players to provide the goals for him. His skill at winning the ball in the air is questionable, he has not scored a header for us which would come in handy to up our desperate goals from corners ratio. An instance of the ‘shirking responsibility dummy’ reminiscent of a Robbie Keane at his prime (his actual prime McGleish) against Wolves was a worrying sight. He must better utilise the physical presence he has, to keep Defoe out the side.
Give us the Power
He needs to shoot more. I cannot recall one shot against Wolves, the type of game, like West Brom, that called out for a moment of magic from our centre forward. How many times can we say Adebayor has produced this? He is prone to offer very little in games. We may have witnessed exquisite assists against Arsenal and Norwich but he should have also been on the scoresheet in both these matches. For a man not known for his subtlety, he is certainly guilty, when shooting, to go for the delicate approach. Had he perhaps gone for power against Chelsea, Terry would have been unable to clear his low shot off the line and we would have beaten ’em. We barely need reminding of the value of a goal out of nothing provided by a good old fashioned thunderous strike with Defoe on our books, which on top of pretty flicks and step-overs, ought to be expected of our big man up front.
I could not have been more delighted to see the back of Peter Crouch. The calibre of our side had outgrown the necessity for such a footballing oddity. No more unnecessary free-kicks conceded by the man up top! This, sadly, has been replaced by the offsides given against Adebayor. God forbid Pav, Jermain and Ade should all be on at the same time. The three legitimate Emmanuel goals that have been unfairly ruled out is symptomatic of the number of offsides he accumulates just as much it is down to poor officiating. Most commonly, he is caught offside in a static positions. When his movement is a problem for opposition, its more a drift out to the wing, to create space for the more clinical finishers à la the third against QPR, than a well timed dart behind the defence. Whether it stands at 9 goals or 12, focus on movement would significantly increase goal and points tally. He seeks to look clever on the ball while his movement is scatterbrained at best.
Keep Spirits Up
I do not know the man but I perceive him to be as mad as a hatter. So far, this has been good for team spirit. Gareth Bale in particular seems to enjoy Adebayor choosing the dressing room tunes and accompanying dance routines. In this, Bale’s goal celebrations provide evidence that supreme-athletes do not necessarily have rhythm and so is not an adequate dance partner for Ade. Nevertheless, all is forgiven as it is usually Bale that has scored the goal. Adebayor has admirably brushed off disgusting chants by both Spurs fans and Arsenal fans, and unsurprisingly plays with a new found joy since the shocking and tragic event he found himself in the middle of in Angola. Like Benoit Assou-Ekotto, his eccentricities are to be celebrated. On the pitch, Ali Al-Habsi has squirted him in the eye with water upon request, he has swung on the crossbar in front of the Paxton Road end before a corner and did a comical pirouette coming off the pitch against Everton having done nothing. In the dressing room, he must be a right lark. With more of the these moments but more importantly more goals to look forward to, he has the power to banish collective memories of scoring for the wrong side. No shrinking violet, he has been a fundamental presence during the purple patch that is now culminating in a great season. We’ll see how much we miss him on Sunday.
Our routine collection of all 3 points at Eastlands has been consigned to the past. Seemingly so has battling it out there for fourth place. Times have changed for the better at both clubs and of course Adebayor is a far more adept forward than many we’ve seen down the Lane. However, this team deserves a more gifted frontman. The jury’s out on Adebayor. The same will soon be said, albeit less figuratively, of ‘Arry.