SPORT

Tottenham Vs Arsenal Preview: Emmanuel Adebayor's Last Spurs Chance?

01/03/2013 14:56 GMT

The common consensus is Emmanuel Adebayor begins auspiciously shortly after joining a club before fading into obscurity, due to his own lack of interest. Sussed Arsenal fans will tell you otherwise.

Adebayor did score on his Arsenal debut in February 2006, but he added just three more goals to his tally after joining the club from Monaco for £7m seven years ago. In his first full campaign he scored an underwhelming 12 goals before coming to life in 2007-08, striking 30 times in the Gunners' last genuine tilt at the title.

Yet despite an excellent season on a personal note, one moment defines the antipathy which festers between Arsenal fans and Adebayor, and it isn't his wild celebration in front of them as a Manchester City player.

Arsenal had the chance to go eight points clear of Manchester United in February 2008. 2-1 and a man up at Birmingham, Adebayor bore down on Maik Taylor's goal, one-on-one, but had Nicklas Bendtner free to his right for a tap-in. Adebayor ignored the Dane, Taylor saved his effort, Birmingham went on to snatch a stoppage-time draw and so began Arsenal's title collapse as William Gallas had a hissy fit.

Adebayor and Bendtner had got into a very public spat during Arsenal's 5-1 defeat at Tottenham the previous month. Adebayor, on as a substitute, apparently told Bendtner, "I'm on because you're s**t." That may not have prompted Adebayor's selfishness at St Andrews, but it is illuminating background detail.


embrouille adebayor vs bendtner

In the post-2005 era Arsenal fans have often had a scapegoat and it was Adebayor's turn in 2008-09, his final campaign. He scored just over half of the goals he plundered the previous term and was accused of a questionable effort. Unlike most departures from the Emirates in recent years, Arsenal fans were pleased when he joined Manchester City in 2009.

It is since the City move that the Adebayor myth has arisen. After four goals in his first five games, he scored just 10 more under Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini at City, with the latter deciding the African was expendable when Mario Balotelli, Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero arrived within a year.

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Adebayor enjoys his goal for City against Arsenal in 2009

Adebayor's highlight in a City shirt, naturally, came against Arsenal. He was superb in City's 4-2 win in what was only his fifth game for the Citizens, but he should not have been afforded the chance to score past his former club. An arguable red card for a tackle on Cesc Fàbregas came before he left his mark with a stamp on Robin van Persie's face. To complete an eventful afternoon, he ran the length of the pitch to execute a boastful knee slide in front of apoplectic Arsenal fans...

This season, Adebayor started against Arsenal as if his luxurious livelihood depended on it. He scored the opener for Tottenham at the Emirates and was performing superbly prior to an overzealous tackle which this time led to a red card as Spurs were thumped 5-2. It was further evidence of how Arsenal bring the best - and worst - out of Adebayor, who savours the extra motivation of biting the hand that once fed him, having also scored in the 5-2 loss at Arsenal last year when he didn't celebrate. He showed less restraint this season.

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Cheerio: Adebayor is sent off at the Emirates in November

But is he a risk worth taking? Tottenham could go 10 points clear should they win the season's second north London derby on Sunday and dent Arsenal's aspirations of competing in the Champions League for a 17th successive campaign. Arsenal overturned a 10-point deficit last year, but their confidence is so low after an embarrassing FA Cup elimination it is hovering above the rock bottom depression of August 2011, when they were obliterated 8-2 by Manchester United.

Aside from his difficulty in staying on the pitch against Arsenal, Adebayor's form this season has resembled that of his subdued 2008-09 performances. He missed a string of presentable chances as Spurs peppered Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal on Monday night and has scored thrice all season for. His latest bout of second season syndrome comes after an excellent and underrated loan year at White Hart Lane when he struck 18 times and provided 12 assists, but the comedown was too predictable.

Tottenham seemed hesitant to make his move permanent. Aside from the financial issues such as wages and re-sale value, it is feasible there were shreds of doubt about the 29-year-old's longevity and consistency - Adebayor was also on loan at Real Madrid in 2011.

Yet ultimately Tottenham are well poised to humiliate Arsenal and are now a better side than them. Although prone to spectacular capitulations, the seven-point cushion over their adversaries and Jermain Defoe's unlikely return on Sunday ironically make Adebayor, despite all the cons, the only choice to spearhead Spurs' attack.