Hat-trick hero Adebayor set to face Gunners
Roberto Mancini admitted Emmanuel Adebayor has played himself into contention to face former club Arsenal with his UEFA Europa League hat-trick at Eastlands on Thursday.
Two first-half goals, followed by a tap-in provided by David Silva's brilliant cross helped Adebayor seal his first Manchester City treble - and break his barren streak this term - as the Blues recorded a 3-1 win over Lech Poznan. In defeating the Poles, City were putting themselves in line to reach the knock-out stages with a bit to spare.
Of more importance, they were signalling their well-being ahead of an eagerly-anticipated encounter with the Gunners, in which Adebayor will be desperate to start. "It is possible he could play against Arsenal," said Mancini.
"For a striker it is important to play well and his performance was excellent. But it is very important for them to score. Now he has a good chance to play against Arsenal."
Mancini still believes he can accommodate Adebayor in his plans even though in-form skipper Carlos Tevez is certain to return against Arsene Wenger's men. "It is not a problem," said Mancini. "They played together against Blackpool. It is normal for my teams to play with two strikers. That is what I usually like to do."
If Adebayor walked away with the match ball and man-of-the-match honours, Silva played an excellent supporting role. After a slow start to his City career the former Valencia star has now settled in and controlled a measured display, which only dipped for a 20-minute spell after half-time when Lech got their goal. "For David Silva it is easy to play football," said Mancini.
"Everything is easy for him. As a team, I thought we played very well in the first half. We scored two goals and did some good things. But we were ordinary in the first 20 minutes of the second. For a little while I was a bit afraid because I thought Lech could cause some problems. But the third goal finished the game."
Backed by 6,000 - mainly UK-based - fans, Lech were not too downheartened at losing what they view as the toughest match in the group. Manager Jacek Zielinski said: "Manchester City played extremely well. It was a good lesson for us. We had some plans. The reality turned out to be somewhat different."