Adebayor enters the spotlight
As Emmanuel Adebayor completed his hat trick against Derby County last week, a pleasant memory came into the mind of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The finish from his tall striker from Togo reminded him of the style of Thierry Henry. Before the season Arsenal fans would have thought that any reference to the Frenchman would have been due to the fact that the Gunners were struggling without his influential presence. But the north Londoners, atop of the Premiership table, have a new darling in Adebayor.
"It's funny," Wenger said, "I thought about Thierry because when he [Adebayor] scored the third goal I thought 'that's a Thierry goal'. There was a defender in front of him, he just opened his foot. There are signs there that he showed a similarity. He's not the same player as Thierry but this kind of goal; Thierry scored as well. But overall they are different players because Adebayor is more a guy who uses his strength, his power and is good in the air.
"I always felt that, from the first day he played for us, he gives us a different option, one that is suited to the British game because when they pin you in your half you can play the long ball and still have a good chance for him to win the ball, or the second ball. He has had to work very hard on his finishing but he is intelligent and certainly got a lot of advice from Thierry. They spoke a lot together and Thierry told him to calm down a bit, saying that the rewards would come.
"Physically he looks stronger; you see that in many challenges when he gets his body in. He is really a lion. He has a huge force coming out of him, basically he had that already before but he looks calmer in his finishing,"
The history boy
The treble against Derby earned Adebayor a place in Arsenal legend, making him the first player to score a hat trick at the Emirates Stadium. After the game, he auctioned his shirt for a leukemia research charity and it was sold for £50,000. Organisers were expecting it to fetch a few thousand. "I'm very happy to be part of history," Adebayor said. "My last hat-trick was 2½ years ago for Monaco against Bastia.
"As a team, we knew it would be difficult when Thierry left so we had to give more concentration. And we're doing it very well. We're winning every game and scoring amazing goals. Cesc Fabregas is scoring from outside the box in almost every game. Whether it's me, Eduardo, Van Persie, everyone is scoring.
"I could say I want to score 30 goals this season, and in March, if I have scored 30, what am I going to do? Am I going to stop? That's why I never set a target. It is just important to keep on scoring and winning games. At the end of the season, if I have scored 15, 20 or 25, I will be happy with it but the most important thing is to win something as a team."
This season, the No25 has found the net six times in six Premiership starts, taking his tally to 68 goals in 214 appearances for Arsenal. With Wenger praising the 23-year-old's eye for goal, many feel that the Frenchman will build a new team around the Adebayor - Robin van Persie strike partnership, a duo likened to the potent Henry - Bergkamp combination by the manager himself.
But for Adebayor, such talk and speculation about Premiership celebrations is, unlike his goalbound efforts, wide of the mark. "I don't want people to think that we will win the title or the Champions League," he said. "I just want them to respect us for what we are doing at the moment. I think attitudes towards us are altering. Recently I read the newspapers and people are changing a little bit. In the summer it was very difficult. We just want to prove to people that they are wrong so at the moment we just will keep our focus and do our job."