Emmanuel Adebayor gives us a glimpse of what we’ve missed

Emmanuel Adebayor has had a frustrating start to the season since signing a permanent deal at Spurs.

The tall Togolese striker has made a handful of substitute appearances due to arriving late in the transfer window and injury.

Making his return in a 23-minute cameo against Aston Villa, Emmanuel Adebayor looked rusty, but gave us a glimpse of what we’ve been missing this season. A front man who can move across the formation, hold the ball up and bring others in to play.

Adebayor did this well last season, bringing a return of 17 goals in the Premier League, but also a whopping 11 assists, the most of any forward.

It is that versatility of not just being a marksman, but also a facilitator that Andre Villas-Boas requires from his number nine.

Radamel Falcao is known for scoring goals more than creating them, but in AVB’s single season working with the Colombian, he had 8 assists to go along with 41 strikes.

Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba split time up front during Villas-Boas’ brief time at Chelsea, but the pair combined to provide 11 assists in his ill-fated reign.

It is this that we’ve been missing so far this season, a striker who is involved in all phases of play and not just putting the ball in the back of the net.

Emmanuel Adebayor against Aston Villa

Emmanuel Adebayor appeared as a substitute, but showed some promising signs. In his 23 minutes on pitch he received the ball 25 times, as he linked up play out on both flanks as well as in the centre.

It is this movement that I believe is the most important thing Emmanuel Adebayor brings to Spurs and why he was so successful last season.

If we compare this to where Jermain Defoe received the ball in his 68 minutes up front, we see a distinct difference.

Defoe not only receives less of the ball in taking 18 passes, but he also rarely moves outside the widths of the penalty area to gain possession.


Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermian Defoe passes received Spurs vs Aston Villa.

This movement to come away from the middle also helps the team, as we can see by Spurs’ passing in the final third. During the first 67 minutes when Jermain Defoe was in the game, we completed 54 of 73 (74%) passes in this area.

During the 23 minutes Emmanuel Adebayor was in the game, we completed 72 of 79 (91%) passes in the final third.


Spurs passing in the final third with Jermian Defoe leading the line (left) and Emmanuel Adebayor (right).

Now, the game was 2-0 to Tottenham when Adebayor entered the match, so we could argue that Spurs would have attempted to play less aggressive passes at this stage.

However, we played 79 passes in these 23 minutes with Emmanuel Adebayor in the game, compared to 73 passes in the preceding 68 minutes of the match. Defoe completed 64% of his passes, Adebayor 88% of his. We also created 8 chances during the time Adebayor was in the game, or one every 3 minutes, compared to one every 5.5 minutes when Defoe was in the action.

Through his movement and willingness to move across the formation, Emmanuel Adebayor is able to facilitate play and the team can fashion more opportunities. This is especially helpful at White Hart Lane, where teams have defended deeper against us, which is why Jermain Defoe has been better away from home.

Emmanuel Adebayor the goalscorer

If we look at some of his stats from last season, we can see that Emmanuel Adebayor is a both a goalscorer and a facilitator.

I’ve put in Jermain Defoe’s numbers from this season and although not a perfect comparison due to different managers, fixtures and systems of play, they do highlight what each player is best at.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Jermain Defoe
Total Shots10038
Mins per attempt30 mins16 mins
Shooting accuracy46%27%
Shots in box87%47%
Goal conversion17%10%
Mins per goal166 mins151 mins
Mins per pass played2.6 mins4.8 mins
Pass accuracy80%75%
Mins per chance created49 mins86 mins

Jermain Defoe is a predator having taken a shot at goal every 16 minutes this season, compared to Adebayor every 30 minutes last term.

However, Defoe takes less of his shots from inside the box, where he attempts 47% to Adebayor’s 87%. Consequently his accuracy is only 27%, whereas Adebayor hits that target with 47% of his efforts.

Defoe does edge Emmanuel Adebayor in minutes taken to score a goal, but he needs a vastly greater number of shots to do it. His goal conversion, or goals to shots ratio, stands at 10% compared to Adebayor’s 17%.

This really sums up the two players; Defoe is a sniper who will fire at goal from anywhere, backing his chances to score. Adebayor is more calculated and will shoot when closer to the target, increasing his accuracy.

The Togolese man is more likely to pass the ball, having played one every 2.6 minutes on pitch last season. When compared to Defoe’s pass played every 4.8 minutes this might not seem like much, but it is an extra 16 passes played per match.

It’s easy to then see why Adebayor created a chance every 49 minutes on pitch last season, compared to Defoe setting up an opportunity every 86 minutes this term.

Clint Dempsey hasn’t quite looked like he has hit his stride playing in the advanced midfield role behind Defoe in AVB’s 4-3-3 system. Emmanuel Adebayor up front would bring the American in to the game more, unleashing his goal scoring potential.

Dempsey had this to say when asked about the returning Spurs star.

“If he is in a position and he can put someone in a goal scoring opportunity, he’ll play him in. He does a good job keeping possession and he works hard for the team.

This is what we’ve really missed this season, a number nine who can hold the ball up, bring others in to play and fashion chances as well as score them. Given the chance to improve his match fitness, Emmanuel Adebayor will do just that.

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