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.
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 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.
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.
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.