Much of this season has been one to forget for Emmanuel Adebayor, but as we enter the business end, has he suddenly become interested?
Two goals in two Premier League matches has helped us take four points, as we sit on the verge of Champions League football in a winner takes all battle with Arsenal. And all this since the Togolese forward commented that he was ready to ‘kill’ the Gunners hopes of a spot at Europe’s top table.
“I don’t care what Arsenal do, what they achieve, that’s not my problem anymore. If I can kill them, I will definitely kill them because we are in a game that wherever you are, you have to do your best.”
And it seems as if Adebayor has been saving his best for these last few games; fuelled by getting one over on his former employers. The interest and focus has returned, something that hasn’t appeared to have been there for much of this campaign.
Back in February I produced a piece on how ‘Emmanuel Adebayor needs to get in the box to score.’ The Togolese international had netted all 17 of his Premier League goals last term inside the area, with both of his efforts at that point in this season also having arrived from inside 18-yards.
The problem was that this term he just wasn’t getting in to the box enough to receive the ball. The fabled link play was there, as Adebayor dropped off left and right to be involved in the build-up. He just wasn’t then getting in to the penalty area to receive possession once again and finish.
Even if we roll back a few games to our 3-1 detonation of Man City at the Lane, Adebayor was still showing this side of his game.
He was a target to win balls knocked forward from the back, but only receives one pass inside the Man City box. He was substituted for Jermain Defoe, a player who makes a living inside the area, and three goals followed in the next six minutes.
Even the passing that was the hallmark of his 12 assists in the Premier League last season was absent. His passes played were all backwards and sideways, nothing penetrating towards or in to the opposition penalty area.
Emmanuel Adebayor interested against Chelsea
All that seemed to change with Adebayor’s comments on our Champions League duel with Arsenal that just happened to coincide with our trip to Chelsea.
This saw his best game of the season and a much more noticeably aggressive performance from Emmanuel Adebayor. Not in a physical sense, but from the perspective that he was not only dropping off to link the play, but then also making a tremendous effort to drive forward.
As a result, he touched the ball far more often than usual, but also received six passes in the Chelsea box. His goal came after a marauding run and was his first from outside the area in the Premier League for Spurs.
What also had returned was his chance-creating passing inside the area.
Adebayor created a goal for Gylfi Sigurdsson (1), but also set up Kyle Walker with a neat flick (2), as well as playing a penetrating pass through for Clint Dempsey (3). It seemed as if the Emmanuel Adebayor that had excelled in a Spurs shirt last season was back.
Emmanuel Adebayor against Stoke
After a man-of-the-match performance at Stamford Bridge, Emmanuel Adebayor was back in the box to grab the winner against Stoke.
This was a much different game due to Charlie Adam’s red card, as the Potters dropped right off and sat with ten men behind the ball for the entire second half.
This was reflected in where Emmanuel Adebayor received possession with Stoke being so deep and compact, but he still took four passes inside the Potters’ penalty area.
His own passing was also more aggressive, with several balls played to or through the inside right channel.
Ade had a simple tap in at the far post for the winning goal. However, this is a position that he has rarely taken up this season after being involved in the build-up play outside the box.
He starts way out on the left flank as Jan Vertonghen has the ball and he is looking to stretch the Stoke defence horizontally across the pitch. Moving out wide like this is something that he has done all season.
When the ball comes over to the right to Gareth Bale, he moves inside towards the corner of the box. A good sign that after offering support by dropping off in to wide areas in the build-up, that he is also looking to be involved once more inside the box.
As Bale’s pass is deflected in to the path of Clint Dempsey, Adebayor has already seen the opportunity and is on his way, sensing a chance as Stoke are static.
He has the simple task of tapping home, but he earned the goal through his movement from outside to in and his desire to get to the back post before his marker.
This simple, but yet aggressive movement, has been lacking from Emmanuel Adebayor for much of this campaign. It was a big part of why he notched 17 times in the Premier League last term, with all of his goals coming from inside the box. Many of these were through this outside to inside movement, just like he showed at Stoke.
The stakes have been raised in recent weeks and the Togolese international seems to be interested once again with Champions League football on the line.
Having been a passenger for much of the season content to be just involved in the build-up play, Emmanuel Adebayor has now also become a driver in to the box and it is paying dividends.