Emmanuel Adebayor has been an offensive spark plug since his return to Tottenham's first team, having netted three goals in his first four games. The good times looked like they were continuing for the Togolese striker against Manchester United, but it appears they've come to a crashing halt.
Adebayor drew first blood for the Spurs, with a beautiful leaping header off a Christian Eriksen cross in the 34th minute. His fourth goal of the season was perhaps his most critical, as it put Tottenham in front in a critical game for Champions League positioning purposes:
GOAL Man Utd 0-1 Spurs (34 mins). Emmanuel Adebayor puts the visitors ahead, superbly heading in Christian Eriksen's cross #MUNTOT— Premier League (@premierleague) January 1, 2014
Though Adebayor was 80 percent of the way to his entire 2012-13 Premier League scoring production, his dream comeback was derailed in the 70th minute when he was felled by a knee injury. Adebayor had to be carried off the field:
SUB Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor is stretchered off, so the visitors send on Nacer Chadli in his place after 70 mins #MUNTOT— Premier League (@premierleague) January 1, 2014
Though Tottenham would hang on for the crucial 2-1 victory, there will be little reconciliation if their hot striker is out for a lengthy period of time. His injury robs Spurs not only of an extremely dangerous scoring threat, but also someone who was starting to earn the good graces of manager Tim Sherwood, via Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail:
Adebayor was considered a near-certain sale in the January transfer window with a year to run on his contract at the season's end, but now there's talk of Daniel Levy extending his deal.
'Tim has told us to attack and play our football the way we know how,' Adebayor says in Tottenham's match day programme.
'I think he’s made a big change in the dressing room with the way he talks, the way he approached the game and the way he gives some of the players their confidence back – it’s incredible.'
If there's any reconciliation, it's that a sale is unlikely now if Adebayor's injury is serious. But Tottenham would obviously rather have the 29-year-old striker in the lineup. Even with his infusion of finishing and creativity, Spurs are the second-lowest-scoring team in the top half of the table, ahead of only 10th-place Hull.
Indeed, despite their victory, Tottenham are the only serious Champions League contender with a negative goal differential. There are legitimate concerns about whether the team's overachieving first half was a mere slump that they would recover from, or a more ominous harbinger of a fall down the standings.
Adebayor's insertion into the lineup offered an opportunity for the former, and his play added an element to Tottenham's offense that had been missing all season. His injury may rob Tottenham of that presence, but at least for today, he helped deliver an important victory.