Why Emmanuel Adebayor Is the Premier League Player to Watch This Weekend
This week's English Premier League match list is full of value and entertainment, but Saturday's early kickoff provides the most enticing individual matchup.
Emmanuel Adebayor takes on his old club Arsenal with his new club Tottenham, and the two happen to be arch-rivals.
The Togolese striker holds the key to a Spurs victory at the Emirates stadium. Read on to find out why.
Defoe Out, Adebayor in
Emmanuel Adebayor has started just one game—last weekend's defeat to Manchester City—in the English Premier League so far this season, while Jermain Defoe has started 10.
The England striker has more than earned his spot, scoring five goals and grabbing two assists. It's also fair to say Adebayor hasn't benefited from the same favouritism that Harry Redknapp awarded him.
But with Defoe playing against Maribor on the Thursday, Andre Villas-Boas decided to award his Togolese hitman a start on the Sunday against Manchester City.
Considering his lack of matches, Adebayor was brilliant. He was a constant source of angst for the Citizens' defenders, and the match swung noticeably in favour of Roberto Mancini's men when he was substituted off.
Is Adebayor back?
Grading His Performance Against Manchester City
Emmanuel Adebayor played as a deeper targetman against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium last weekend.
He received 33 passes from his teammates during the game, with over 50 percent of them being 25 yards or longer in distance.
As Manchester City tried to assert their authority on the passing game, Tottenham were struggling to bite back without Moussa Dembele in the middle.
They couldn't keep the ball effectively, so they used Adebayor as an easy outlet. He did his job well, gave his team some semblance of rhythm and stopped Gareth Bale from becoming an isolated, frustrated figure.
When Adebayor was subbed for Jermain Defoe, however, that outlet disappeared. In 16 minutes, Defoe received just four passes, but they were long-balls to run onto as a poacher, not to hold up as a targetman.
This diagram shows the passing tendencies for both teams in the final 25 minutes of the game. City stepped up their dominance once the Togolese striker had been removed, while Spurs continued to play the same ball to a non-existant targetman.
Is it any surprise City finally broke through? Andre Villas-Boas surrendered by making this substitution.
How He Can Be a Threat to Arsenal
Emmanuel Adebayor is one of three Tottenham players who could make a real difference in this match.
This promises to be a battle in the middle of the park as both teams look to control the ball and retain possession, but with Arsenal averaging the highest possession per game (60 percent), it's quite obvious who will win this mini-contest.
That means Spurs could find themselves doing what they did so well against Manchester City—feeding their Togolese targetman for relief under pressure.
If Arsenal stifle Spurs' wide threats, Andre Villas-Boas' side are going to come up toothless.
Adebayor is integral to bringing Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon into play and he has to avoid or overcome Mikel Arteta's guard dog-like presence in his area of the field.
If Spurs can work the ball to him, and in turn he can fashion chances for his widemen, they have a genuine chance of winning this game.
Anyone Remember This?
Manchester City hosted Arsenal for an English Premier League fixture in September 2009.
The game marked Emmanuel Adebayor's immediate face-off with his former club, as the Citizens had purchased the Togolese man for £25 million just two months prior.
The circumstances in which the African striker left were acrimonious to say the least, and Adebayor clearly felt he had received unfair amounts of criticism from the Arsenal faithful.
Hence this celebration.
He ran the entire length of the pitch to provoke angry travelling Gooners after scoring in his side's 4-2 victory.
He is certain to be booed with every touch this weekend. How will he react?