Is his time running out at White Hart Lane?

Tottenham Hotspur forward Emmanuel AdebayorWhen he’s on form he’s lethal, almost impossible to push off the ball and has defenses aquiver at his long-range prowess… but he’s scored only one goal in eight Premier League games and it doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

No, he’s not Emmanuel Adebayor, he’s Jermain Defoe, and he’s still Andre Villas-Boas’ go-to-guy for a starting role ahead of the Togo international. How does that figure?

Ade was playing in the Bernabeu for Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid not too long ago, and Andre Villas-Boas has instead preferred the diminutive 30-year-old Jermain Defoe, whose record this year is fairly decent, but nothing to brag about. He might be the highest scoring Englishman in the league, but that’s not the accolade it once was.

So why has the precocious Portuguese man – the one who is invariably and annoyingly signified by his acronym – chosen a player once overlooked by tactical wiz, Harry Redknapp (spoiler alert, there may be irony).

Steven Caulker seems to think that his fortunes this season have been helped by Villas-Boas’ selection policy of merit, as opposed to the brazen popularity contest of his predecessor.

“It’s important for a player to know that if you’re training well and playing well, you’ll be in the team,” Caulker said. “It’s not nice when there are favourites. I think the manager has brought that in and I am happy.”

A veiled criticism on the managerial mastery of Redknapp, whose left and right arms must be red raw having draped them many a time around the shoulder of some down-and-out squad player, ensuring peace and acquiescence throughout the season. But now, with performance the focal point for first team selection – as it should be – Caulker tells us “there’s a good mood in the camp.” What more could you ask for…

How about a few more goals from two of Spurs’ main front men, Defoe and Adebayor. There’s really not much between the two players apart from power and pace. However, a drop in work-rate on the pitch, and who knows perhaps in training too, might be Adebayor’s undoing. Last season Adebayor worked the channels, dropped deep and linked up well with midfield. Something he hasn’t been too successful in doing this season.

At the beginning of January, when discussions about Adebayor were mainly centered on his Togo decision – will he go, won’t he? – Steffen Freund’s words made it clear that the team would be fine without him, and in doing so indicated that he might be a man whose talents are needed, but he is certainly not depended upon.

“We’ve been successful with or without Emmanuel in the team, that’s the most important thing. He was injured for eight games and we had a really strong run without him – nine points in December. Jermain Defoe and Clint Dempsey can play up front, Gylfi Sigurdsson can play up front. With him we are strong and he scored in the last game.”

Perhaps Adebayor has reached his limit at Spurs, and Spurs have equally reached a limit with him.

Lets look back in the not too distance past. In 2010/11 Adebayor became Manchester City’s Europa League lackey, with only two Premier League starts against Blackpool and Wolves. In 14 games for City that season (a large portion coming off the subs bench) he scored 5 goals. When Jose Mourinho came calling, City and Mancini gratefully accepted the loan deal.

For Real he netted seven goals in 21 games, with three coming in an 8-1 drubbing of Almera in the last game of the season, and two against Spurs in the Champions League. He didn’t have much of an impact.

Then came his loan to Spurs. After having to suffer the ungraceful movements of Peter Crouch (although he did make the difference for the team on numerous occasions), Spurs fans were overjoyed to see the arrival of a striker who helped end their Champions League run.

On loan and trying to impress, he bagged 18 goals in all competitions, working hard to secure a permanent move. So far this season he’s had a goal and a red card against Arsenal, an opener against Panathinaikos, one against Reading and another on the weekend for Togo. If Adebayor has reached his limit at Spurs, and found himself unable to keep out Defoe who is preferred despite average form, who’ll fill the gap this year with goals in attack?

Enter Dempsey, the man to lead this team into the Champions League, and why not? He’s scored five in seven games with his most significant coming up against Manchester United in the final minutes of injury time. He was a clutch player for Fulham, and he did the same against United at the Lane. With performance the focal point for Villas-Boas, I see the American ahead of Adebayor long after the Togolese player returns from South Africa.

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