Do we need more from Emmanuel Adebayor?

Emanuel Adebayor looks to be the archetypal striker for Mauricio Pochettino’s system, but do we need more from him than we have seen so far?

Big, strong, quick over the ground and good with the ball at his feet to bring others in to play. Emmanuel Adebayor has all the assets to be the perfect front man in Mauricio Pochettino’s system.

What Mauricio Pochettino wants

Our new coach wants, and needs, a centre forward who can come short and receive the ball early in the final third. This gives opposition defenders a choice to make between tracking him or laying off.

By coming in to these shorter zones, it allows runners to burst past and look to be played in to the space created. With three advanced midfielders that can switch and change position, this means the defence can get caught off guard. They also don’t know where the run will come from or who will make it.

At Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino had Rickie Lambert to execute this.

Lambert is viewed by many as being a big, burly, British centre forward. One who has size, strength and is good in the air. But he also has excellent movement, and as he showed setting up England’s second goal against Switzerland, a nice touch and weight of pass.

The now Liverpool man was never a threat to get in-behind teams as he isn’t a speedster, but his movement allowed others to run in to the space he created.

Just as Adam Lallana does here. Paul McShane gets caught in two minds as to whether to track Lambert so far away from goal and Adam Lallana is off to receive the pass in-behind.


Lambert drops deep to feed Lallana’s run.

After making this movement to come short, Pochettino then requires his striker to get up in to the box. This can be to support the attacking run he just created or the second option is that the ball is moved wide for a cross. This is where the strength, size and aerial ability of the front man come in to its own.

Lambert scored 13 goals last season for Southampton in the Premier League, but more impressively, he had 10 assists from playing in this style. Saints top scorer was Jay Rodriguez, who notched 15 times from running in to the spaces Lambert created.

Now with Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino has given this role to Emmanuel Adebayor. Our Togolese striker definitely has the movement to drag the central defenders out and has the ability to pass the ball to others. So, how has he faired so far?

Emmanuel Adebayor against West Ham

The match at the Boleyn Ground with West Ham was heavily influenced by two sending offs. The first saw us down to ten men for the majority of the match and this heavily affected the role of Emmanuel Adebayor.

Our centre forward was doing a decent job at the first part of his role, as he was coming short in to midfield to receive the ball. This was partly by design of the system, but also heavily influenced by the fact that we only had ten men.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes received, West Ham 0 Spurs 1.

As we can see, he covers the width of the pitch and is the focus for passes played through the middle third. Adebayor has strength and height and we’ve seen previous managers use this as a way to get the ball quickly forward to him. Pochettino doesn’t like to use the striker in this way, preferring to move the ball in to him with shorter more vertical passes.

After James Collins’ red card, which Emmanuel Adebayor was directly involved with due to his bursting run, this saw him gain the ball higher up in central areas. Prior to this, everything was understandably to him through the middle third. Whereas Lambert didn’t have this run in-behind threat, Adebayor has this bonus weapon in his armoury.

The second part of the striker’s role is to get the ball to others running off him. Understandably playing with ten men for a large portion of the match, Emmanuel Adebayor struggled to do this and his passing reflected that. Everything was pretty much either backward or a layoff.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes played, West Ham 0 Spurs 1.

Harry Kane replaced him on 83 minutes. The youngster’s introduction came with both sides now playing with ten men and much more space on the field.

Like Adebayor, Kane thoroughly understood his role to come short and hit others running beyond him. He attempted a number of through passes before picking out Eric Dier for the dramatic winning goal.


Harry Kane passes played, West Ham 0 Spurs 1.

Emmanuel Adebayor against QPR

Our best performance of the season so far saw a much more effective Emmanuel Adebayor.

Being down to ten men hadn’t helped against West Ham, neither had Sam Allardyce’s use of four men in a box to control central midfield. Against QPR though, Adebayor was aided by their lack of a defensive midfielder and the resulting space between the lines.

He was able to freely drift across the pitch and take a high number of passes played short through the middle third. What’s more, with us ganging up down the left, he was heavily involved down this side. Adebayor likes to naturally move out this way so that he can play in on his favoured right foot. Here he combined with Danny Rose and Nabil Bentaleb to overload this flank.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes received, Spurs 4 QPR 0.

It paid off with him supplying the opening goal for Nacer Chadli to prod home from his cross. He also supplied a number of passes to create shots or crossing opportunities in the final third.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes played, Spurs 4 QPR 0.

Emmanuel Adebayor was looking a perfect fit for the role and he topped his performance off with a goal from Danny Rose’s cross.

Emmanuel Adebayor against Liverpool

Against Brendan Rodgers’ side, Emmanuel Adebayor had a tough time coming short to get the ball.

The reason for this was Liverpool’s diamond formation getting four men in to central areas. This closed off the space between the lines and made it harder for Adebayor to drop in. Just as we can see here, four Liverpool players confront Christian Eriksen and Steven Gerrard is closing off the space that Emmanuel Adebayor would take up.


Emmanuel Adebayor can’t come short to receive the ball.

As a result, Adebayor received relatively few short passes in the middle third and everything was longer to him or played over the top.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes received, Spurs 0 Liverpool 3.

It was no surprise that his best chance came from a pass in-behind the Liverpool defence that he lobbed over an advancing Simon Mignolet and the bar. Later, he flicked another long ball forward in to the path of Nacer Chadli who ran past him and fired straight at the Liverpool keeper.


Emmanuel Adebayor flicks the long ball on for Chadli.

Finding runners beyond the striker is how the system is supposed to work, just with shorter passes across the ground to Adebayor rather than longer passes in the air.

As a result, Emmanuel Adebayor really wasn’t able to play any incisive passes. Everything was again pretty much backwards, except for a couple of failed balls across the penalty area. There was a huge space at the entrance to the final third, the area his movement should’ve taken him in to, but Liverpool’s tactics crowded him out and stopped this.


Emmanuel Adebayor couldn’t get in to the circled area.

Do we need more from Emmanuel Adebayor?

Its been a rather up and down start for the Togolese striker. Could he be doing more? Maybe. He suffered badly from contracting Malaria, which curtailed his pre-season and that has had an affect on how far down the line he is with his fitness and training.

So far his performances seem to have been very circumstantial.

His lack of fitness played a part against West Ham, but he wasn’t helped by the situation of the game and us playing a large portion of it with ten men.

Against QPR he looked back in full flow and like the striker Mauricio Pochettino needs. He was aided by their lack of a proper holding player and the space between the lines as a result.

Up against a well-drilled Liverpool side, he was kept from influencing the game by their diamond midfield. This did also affect the rest of our team though, as we didn’t move the ball or our players quickly enough.

Emmanuel Adebayor has all the tools to do what Mauricio Pochettino requires. With increasing fitness and experience in the new coach’s system we should see something of the player we originally signed. The one who netted 17 times and provided 12 assists in his first full season.

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13 Responses to Do we need more from Emmanuel Adebayor?

  1. Brihimself 10th September 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    No- We need LESS OF Adebayor. He is not a quality needed for a lead striker in a top club. Kane must be given the lead and hopefully he will rise to the challenge. One hopes that Soldado can recover some form and add a contribution..
    Ade’s best contribution would be to show his traditional magic as a 20 min second half sub. He is inconsistent and unreliable and should not be the starter. Too bad we didn’t get a new striker. Our strike force is very weak.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 11th September 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Is Kane really ready to take on so much responsibility Brihimself?

      • Brihimself 12th September 2014 at 3:55 am #

        Probably not, but he has potential and at this stage we have little choice= Unless Soldado can suddenly show up and perform. Ade has neither the skills nor the energy nor the consistency to deliver as a lead striker. His best chance to contribute would be as a second half sub every 2nd game. He might actually deliver something. We missed out getting a quality striker.
        IMO we should have obtained Hernandez or Wellbeck. We didn’t – If I was Poch; I would use Kane and try out someone else to play the front end – maybe Paulinho or ??

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th September 2014 at 11:30 am #

          I would have liked to get Welbeck, also he would count as a homegrown player so would fit the Premier League squad rules as we have already maxed our overseas player allocation. In that way we wouldn’t have had to sell before we could buy.

          I’d like to see Paulinho deeper alongside Capoue. In that way he can play a proper box-to-box role with Lamela, Chadli and Eriksen ahead of him so he can arrive later in the attack. Think this would suit him more.

  2. Bleedlyliwhite 10th September 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Soldado is a pure striker, while MP wants, as article points correctly, his CF to be involved with play development. This is something Adebayor likes to do, while Soldado being a pure penalty box finisher, does not and cannot, to be honest… Soldado, therefore, has no place in Poch system. Good head coaches shall employ more than one system of play. If MP has something else in his pocket, then Soldado could be useful. Otherwise he’ll be gone by January window end. Kane will learn and should be eventual Adebayor replacement, but for now we need another striker with Ade abilities or at minimum experience to play that role without taking time to figure it out.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 11th September 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Some good points Bleedlyliwhite. I thought Soldado looked ok in pre-season trying to do what Pochettino wants. His build up play is not bad – his lob pass on Lennon’s goal vs Chicago Fire and his 2 assists for Lamela’s goals against Toronto – its just not that of Adebayor, who plays this way more naturally.

      • Bleedlyliwhite 11th September 2014 at 3:15 pm #

        That is why Soldado has to play in Europa. I am sure he will be quite successful coming back playing against Partisan. Against top level defenders in EPL his role should only be limited to finishing.
        Ideally one would want to have both options in same game. Soldado getting crosses in the box and Adebayor doing what we discussed. That would really stress the opposition defense. The problem is that none of the two has Suares’ ability to retrieve the ball lost upfront. Both often look lazy there once dispossessed, but lack of defense skills is the actual reason. That leaves Spurs shorthanded and, thus, vulnerable to counter attack in case opposition get the ball in their box. That is probably why Sherwood stopped playing Adebayor behind Soldado.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 11th September 2014 at 5:13 pm #

          Yes it’s a shame Soldado is out with a neck injury as it would be good to see if he can do it against Premier League defences.I agree both are not great at retrieving the ball once lost, but there are very few good pressing forwards in the EPL at the minute, Suarez was the best at this for me.

          • Bleedlilywhite 11th September 2014 at 5:53 pm #

            I have not seen Jonas in game actions, but as far as pressing forwards are concerned Jay Rodriguez is what Poch needs. I think Kane could be molded into that pressing shape under MP guidance, but that would be a project for awhile.

  3. brian 11th September 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Just love your summing up.But we desperately needed that other stricker.One with sheer pace,and the other attribute of running off the central defenders.Soldado/Kane/Adebeyor,all have certain skills to contribute.But pace is not one of them,unfortunately.Which is a must for the Premier League.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 11th September 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks Brian. With the Premier League squad rules i think we are at the max of overseas players – hence the reason we were linked with a homegrown player such as Welbeck who wouldn’t count in the squad number. Otherwise I believe we’d have to sell someone before we can buy. Who would you go for if given the choice?

  4. YouShubes 12th September 2014 at 7:52 am #

    The best way to beat a narrow midfield diamond is outflank it. Sadly we don’t have anyone that can recycle possession a la Luka. Who does?

    Shame that Lennon no longer attacks the full backs. Pity we did not try going back to 4-4-1-1. How do you think Lamela would have done as traditonal left winger?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th September 2014 at 11:33 am #

      My knee jerk reaction would be to say not great as whenever i’ve seen him there, which to be honest is very rarely, he doesn’t look like he knows what to do. You’d think it would be as simple as staying wide and tring to get down the outside – natural for a left footer – but he really looks like a fish out of water to me when on the left. He looks much more at home playing from the right or in through the centre when he can run with the ball.