As Tottenham Hotspur have looked to take their season into a higher gear during the festive period, for Emmanuel Adebayor, it’s felt much more like a chance to take the handbrake off, rather than increasing on any momentum gained.
Since making his superb loan spell from Manchester City permanent during the summer, the big Togolese striker has of course endured something of a difficult start to life as a fully-fledged player at White Hart Lane.
After joining up with Andre Villas-Boas’ squad without a proper pre-season under his belt, Adebayor has struggled for both form and fitness as he’s endeavoured to try and recapture the form that saw him net 17 Premier League goals for Harry Redknapp’s side last term. The superb goalscoring exploits of Jermain Defoe has offered the ex-Arsenal man only another obstacle to overcome in a set-up which has tended to only accommodate one striker for much of the season.
And in more ways than one, Adebayor’s goal in the 3-1 win over Reading yesterday couldn’t have come at a better time for both club and player. Because while it set the Lilywhites on their way to third in the Premier League table, it also saw Adebayor finally alleviate some of the mounting pressure that had begun to build amongst supporters in recent weeks.
Yet while some of the critique aimed at Adebayor has been both fair and due, especially so in the wake of his disastrous sending off against Arsenal back in November, there has been a growing sense of malaise developing from a small section of supporters towards the Togolese international. While Adebayor isn’t without his faults, fans must remain patient with him as we set off out into 2013.
Given his chequered history, it’s fair to say that supporters are well within their rights to dabble in an element of cynicism when it comes to evaluating their No10’s current run of patchy form. While Adebayor has scored goals wherever he’s gone in his career, he’s also tended to serve up large spells of inconsistency, too.
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Since he first arrived at Spurs in 2011, supporters have yet to really be treated to the darker side of Emmanuel Adebayor, but come the North London derby back in November, they were given a timely reminder of the other side of the one time Real Madrid man’s game. His 18th minute lunge on Santi Cazorla saw him correctly sent off during Spurs’ disastrous 5-2 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, in a game which coincidentally saw him notch his only other league goal of the season.
It was a moment of stupidity and an exhibition of the fiery blood that has always pumped through the body of Adebayor, but nothing more. Yet judging by some of the views emanating out of White Hart Lane in recent weeks, the negativity heaped upon him suggests that not all may have necessarily got over the mauling caused that day by Adebayor’s moment of madness.
Yes, he’s not hit anywhere near the heights of last season, but first of all, let’s not forget quite what an outstanding contribution Adebayor produced for the Lilywhites last term. A tally of 17 league goals and 11 assists is outstanding whichever way you look at it and while he may not come close to matching it this time round, don’t underestimate the work he’s been performing for the side since his return to first team affairs.
Patience appears to have been running thin for Adebayor for a while now, but given the disruption he’s faced to his season so far, is it really that much of a surprise that he only may just now be coming into form?
Even though we’re now already half way through the Premier League season, Adebayor simply hasn’t had the solid, consistent run of starts in the league until the start of last month. Given his abject lack of fitness via an absent pre-season, early season cameos against Norwich and West Brom are reduced to little more than token statistics and following a niggling hamstring injury, he had to wait until November 11th to make his first start of the season against Manchester City.
The subsequent three-game suspension that awaited him following his next game against Arsenal is no one else’s fault bar his own, but consequently, his next start in the league didn’t come till the 2-1 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park. That was only his third Premier League start of the entire season.
And for a player that’s been described as everything from a passenger to a mercenary in recent weeks, his side haven’t half done bad with him in the team. Since that defeat to David Moyes’ side, Tottenham have been unbeaten in five, picking up 13 points along the way. Adebayor has started all five of those games.
Playing in Villas-Boas’ altered 4-4-2 like set-up, the hard work Adebayor’s been doing off the ball, striving to win it back and linking up play from far deeper than what we’ve seen before, will never win as many plaudits as the goals Jermain Defoe’s recently been scoring. But don’t underestimate his value to the team.
Only in the past four weeks has Adebayor really got that run of games he’s needed to try and find both form and fitness. There’s been some knocks along the way, a few unconvincing performances and a touch in front of goal that certainly won’t return overnight. Yet slowly but surely, we’re finally starting to see Villas-Boas’ faith pay dividends.
Emmanuel Adebayor can’t stop here and for all his hard work, he must do more to start putting the ball in the back of the net. Although wheeling out tired clichés about him giving up the ghost now he’s got a permanent contract is both as uninformed as it is missing the point. He’s doing his bit to try and recapture the form of last season. It’s time the small section of naysayers started doing their bit to help him, too.