How Tottenham are taking advantage of Emmanuel Adebayor’s key asset

Emmanuel Adebayor has been a revelation since returning to the side, netting five times in the Premier League.

The key to his game has always been his movement and Tim Sherwood is taking advantage of this. Our new coach is using the big man as a focal point to run the attack through, looking to get the ball often to Adebayor, preferably to his feet, so that he can make things happen.

Emmanuel Adebayor for AVB

This hasn’t always been the case. Under Andre Villas-Boas, the striker was used as more a hold up man as the attack went through Gareth Bale. Adebayor likes to be involved in the game and when AVB did use him, the Togolese striker wasn’t the hub for the attack. He touched the ball infrequently and was often bringing it down from long balls forward and laying it back.

Take our away performance at Swansea last season. Despite us winning 2-1, Adebayor received the ball 28 times, but a number of those were long balls cleared out from the back by either the goalkeeper or defenders.

Rarely did he drop in to midfield in order to link the play, as the attack was set up for Gareth Bale to receive the ball. The Welshman could either then run at the defence to take advantage of his speed and dribbling, or the ball was hit over the top for him to jet on to. Bale attempted six shots in the match, Adebayor had just one.


Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale passes received, Swansea 1 Spurs 2.

Adebayor is more than a hold up man or someone who can use their height when you’re looking to clear downfield as a release valve for the defence. However, as a result of this, his passing was often backward as he knocked the ball down or laid it off. As we know, Adebayor can create goals, but nothing he did was being passed towards or in to the penalty area.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes played, Swansea 1 Spurs 2.

Emmanuel Adebayor for Tim Sherwood

Tim Sherwood has brought Emmanuel Adebayor back in to the first team and is making him the hub of the attack in order to take advantage of his movement.

The Togolese front man has often been used with Roberto Soldado, as Sherwood looks to him to drop deeper. This not only takes advantage of his link play, but also ensures he is involved in the game, which keeps Adebayor interested.

We saw this in Sherwood’s first match in charge, the Capital One Cup tie with West Ham. Emmanuel Adebayor was constantly coming short in to midfield, as the ball was played first time in to his feet.

This used Ade’s movement to pull defenders out, whilst getting him in possession so that he could use his passing to move it forward and wide. Spurs attempted a whopping 40 crosses in that match, including one that found Adebayor for a goal. The team has toned down the crossing slightly since then, but the movement of the ball to hit Ade in to feet remains.

Take our trip to Swansea this season where Emmanuel Adebayor was again up top as a central striker.

This time, rather than having a direct dribbling number ten who is looking to run and shoot from playing off his knockdowns and layoffs in Gareth Bale; he has a passer in Christian Eriksen.

Adebayor still received the odd ball played forward from the back to ease pressure on the defence, but he now takes a ton of passes through the middle third.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes received, Swansea 1 Spurs 3.

This takes advantage of his movement, which draws defenders out and allows others in behind. It also means that he can then surge forward from deeper positions to arrive in the box as crosses come in, meaning he is harder to mark. It keeps him interested by continually involving him as he receives the ball 56 times, twice that of his last trip to the Liberty. Finally, it takes advantage of his ability to move the ball, which is now not just laying it off, but playing aggressive passes looking to get others in towards the penalty area.


Emmanuel Adebayor passes played, Swansea 1 Spurs 3.

The play, rather than being hit up to him is now being moved through him, as he is given the freedom to come towards the ball as opposed to being a target for it.

Emmanuel Adebayor has scored five times in the Premier League and has six goals overall. Unsurprisngly, with us moving play wide to get balls in the box, five of these have come from crosses. The play has often gone through him in the lead up to the strike, as well as putting the ball in the back of the net.

Movement is the greatest asset of Emmanuel Adebayor and at the minute it’s being effectively used for the benefit of the team.

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10 Responses to How Tottenham are taking advantage of Emmanuel Adebayor’s key asset

  1. Derek Cooper 23rd January 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Good stuff. Enjoyed. He feels wanted and appreciated by TS. I’m still trying to work out if Soldado is his natural type of link man, but am trying to be patient. PLEASE don’t get injured!!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th January 2014 at 10:03 am #

      An injury may derail a lot of plans. Soldado has looked better since Ade has come in but still looks like he’s getting used to the pace and physicality of the English game.

  2. Some Dude 23rd January 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Hey, great article again thanks for taking the time to put these up. I was wondering, it being January, where you think the squad should strengthen to either build on Sherwood’s system or for the long term?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th January 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Pleasure, thanks for reading. As has been the case for over a season now, i think the only area to address is the left back position. Whether this is from buying or a short term loan till we can address this issue properly in the summer, this is an area that really needs some consideration.

      Am interested to know what people think we need to do this window?

  3. YouShubes 23rd January 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Great work as always.

    Assuming we rest him up until the QFs of the Europa League should we get that far, do you think we can get him playing every remaining EPL game this season without fear of running him into the ground?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th January 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Good question. I think he can just simply due to the fact that his season only started a month ago and he doesn’t have 20 odd games already racked up. With us being out of the FA and Capital One Cups, it means we’re only going to be playing Thursday/Sunday which should be highly manageable. The only time i’d rest him in the Premier League is if we make the Europa League Final!

  4. Paulo 25th January 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Interesting you said you’d like to see a left back come in… I think Rose is ok with vertongen as cover….. We also have fryers who may be ready in a year or two…. I don’t think we need too many coming in… Would like to see a couple go out on loan to see them get a run of games…. All of Holtby, lamela, Capoue i’m yet to make my mind up up… What do you think of Holtby? I can never decide and with carrol also potentially coming back in the summer there could be strong competition in the middle

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th January 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      Some interesting points and questions Paulo.

      I think Rose is ok at the minute, but if he’s out for any time like he has been this season, then we need some cover. Fryers is by no means near the finished article and for me, Vertonghen is not equipped to deal with the pace of the English game as a full back. He plays there for Belgium, but in the Premier League he often gets exposed by fast wingers and is not able to get beyond his wide player going forward, such as Rose and Walker do. He’s so much better at centre back and should play there if healthy. The only time i would possibly consider him at left back is to effectively get 3 centre backs on the field against someone like Andy Carroll, as you know West Ham will hit long balls and look for him off crosses.

      I agree about not too many coming in, as we are still trying to get the new players from the summer acclimatised to the team and the Premier League. Hence the reason for just detailing the left back slot, as it still continues to trouble us for a season and a half now.

      I think Holtby is a decent player and has made real strides this season in the limited opportunities he’s had. He was just energy last season, but he came in midway through and having had the summer and preseason with the lads, it has really helped him. Unfortunately he’s not a fit for Sherwood’s 4-4-2 as Tim needs two big, physical box-to-box types in central midfield. If Sherwood persists with this system, then i don’t see him getting much game time. He seems another player more suited to 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 where he can be used in an advanced midfield role or slightly deeper as part of a three. He’s not a starter, but a good squad player to give others a rest or an impact sub to provide energy from the bench.

      Tom Carroll coming back will provide competition, but i still think he’s at least another season away from being a serious contender for the first team.

  5. Paulo 26th January 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Cheers mark.

    Holtby definitly offers something! For a start he seems to be an absolute top bloke!! But I find his play a bit one dimensional, for instance he often gets it onto his left, sometimes opposition players figure him out and then nullify him during the game. On the other hand Eriksen seems to have many dimensions for instance that lovely drag back onto his left foot against Swansea which wrong footed 2 defenders…

    City game could be interesting… For both clubs actually… Win for city and I can’t see them missing out on the title… Win for spurs and and watch the expectation rocket….!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th January 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      For me, he is someone that can move the ball very quickly forward through incisive vertical passing eg his lob pass over the top of the Villa defence for Defoe to score in the Capital One Cup game with Aston Villa. Or his set ups for Defoe against Anzhi and Tromso in the Europa League. He also has a decent shot on him from outside the box as he showed away to Fulham and with some speculative efforts in the 2-1 win at Sunderland.

      Agree about the expectation levels for the City game, Sherwood’s first real big test!