Tottenham Hotspur's good Premier League form since Tim Sherwood's appointment as manager—16 points in six games—has seen many players delivering for their new boss.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen have been chief among them. After both shone in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Swansea City, it could be said none have benefited more from the change of head coach at White Hart Lane.
Of course, the circumstances of how each have flourished in recent weeks are rather different.
After being cast to the sidelines by Andre Villas-Boas, Adebayor's restoration to the first-team was Sherwood's opening gambit as Spurs manager. Initially selected as part of a front two designed to give a previously lackluster attack more presence, his success there in recent weeks saw the Togo international given the responsibility of leading the line alone against Swansea.
Two goals in an influential, often exciting display from Adebayor would suggest Sherwood got that call right.
Adebayor revelled in the freedom and space granted him by Swansea's lax defending and misplaced passing.
Manchester City in a week-and-a-half's time are unlikely to allow him to make the powerful counter-attacking runs that featured more than once here. Nor will they allow opportunities like the one provided for his second goal, teed up in yards of space by Danny Rose's cross.
Still, you can only play and beat who is put in front of you. With five goals in his last six last league appearances, Adebayor has done that with aplomb since his return to action.
For a player much maligned over the years, the 29-year-old has not done too shabbily overall. As BBC Sport pointed out post-match:
Adebayor actually went ahead of the Arsenal legend with his second. Even accounting for their stylistic differences, that is not bad company for the Spurs man to be keeping.
Sherwood will be well aware, though, of the dips in Adebayor's form that have led to that tally being less than what it perhaps could have been.
With that in mind, he will be pleased his striker's teammates have been doing their bit to bring the best out of him—not to mention performing in their own right.
Eriksen's superb cross and assist for Adebayor's first goal was a reversal of their combination last week against Crystal Palace when the Dane opened the scoring. It was the highlight of a performance floating as part of a central midfield three that, while not dominant, certainly contributed to Spurs' greater, winning quality.
“We didn’t have a shot on target until we scored but I always thought we were a massive threat,” Sherwood said, per TottenhamHotspur.com. “We just needed to find that final ball, get our schemers on the ball in the final third and make that final pass, make it tell. We did that for an hour, (and) we were excellent."
Eriksen was one of the first to step to the fore for his team in an early spell going Swansea's way. Fourteen minutes in, he made an interception on the right and embarked on a run through the home side's defence, only stopped when they blocked his cross.
After Spurs went one-nil up, the 21-year-old's involvement pushing into the final third was still causing the Swans to flutter. Just prior to halftime, a sublime turn left Ashley Williams for dead on the edge of the box, but he could only muster a tame shot when a true opening subsequently arrived.
Though quieter in the second half, Eriksen was still a ready option, helping to keep Tottenham ticking and ushering his opponents into dead ends. The below heat map from Squawka.com demonstrates the effort he put into being there for his team when they needed him.
Having endured stuttering form in his first few months in England, injury had consigned Eriksen to the sidelines for the last days of Villas-Boas' tenure. Perhaps he would have been finding form now regardless of who his coach was, but he has definitely benefited from Sherwood's faith in him.
Three goals in six starts and a clutch of steady to impressive showings in a more involved role at the heart of the Spurs midfield have ensured he has more than earned his continuing starting place.
As it will have repercussions for the shape of the team, the next step forward in Eriksen's involvement will be intriguing to say the least.
With Nabil Bentaleb and Mousa Dembele fulfilling more traditional midfield duties, Eriksen's auxiliary status makes his role for next opponent Man City less certain. Sherwood and his staff will be attempting to incorporate him as part of plans to resist Manuel Pellegrini's midfield, while still selecting a side that can pose their own attacking threat.
Eriksen has shown in recent weeks he is not a useless defensive contributor—he won one tackle and made two interceptions against Swansea, as tallied by Squawka. Up against the likes of Yaya Toure, those skills will be more severely tested, though.
For now, Tottenham can be satisfied with the performances of Adebayor and Eriksen of late. In order for good form to turn into genuine progress, they will need them to maintain these levels.
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