Adebayor Needs To Improve If He Wants To Guarantee His Starting Spot

The Togolese striker arrived at White Hart Lane permanently over the summer, but he needs to work harder if he wants to secure his spot in the starting XI.
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How does the famous song go? “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to see Tottenham win away”. Yes, Spurs secured their second successive away win following the 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday, following up from the impressive 4-0 hammering of Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

It's fair to say Andre Villas-Boas' side were unfortunate to go into the interval behind during the encounter after John O'Shea smashed home from close range, much to the delight for former Black Cats player and owner Niall Quinn.

The opener stemmed from Kyle Walker's needless foul on Stephane Sessegnon and after Hugo Lloris expertly denied Steven Fletcher, the former Manchester United trainee was able to bury into an empty net.

Spurs' equaliser came as a result of Carlos Cuellar heading into his own net following a Walker corner before Aaron Lennon expertly slotted past Simon Mignolet to net the winner, ensuring the visitors have now gone 27 Premier League encounters without dropping points when the diminutive winger has scored.

However, Spurs should never have gone into the interval 1-0 down in the first place after Emmanuel Adebayor somehow squandered one of the easiest chances of the season, capitalising on a Mignolet mistake to smash against the crossbar from two yards out.

That one attempt from the now former Togo international has all but summed up his campaign thus far. Adebayor was hailed as one of the coups of the season last summer after arriving on loan from Manchester City for the year.

18 goals and 11 assists in the Premiership, the only player to have reached double figures in both categories for the 2011/12 campaign, saw Spurs fans take the powerful striker to their hearts after previously launching a tirade of abuse in the direction of the front-man following his time with Arsenal.

Unsurprisingly, a permanent move over the summer was mooted and despite the deal proving to be a long drawn out affair, Adebayor was eventually back on the books at White Hart Lane come the close of the transfer window.

A lack of pre-season training was unmistakably evident and it wasn't long before the striker was in the treatment room for a number of niggling injuries. His time on the sidelines saw him fall down the pecking order, albeit it to striker number two, following Jermain Defoe's impressive start to the season.

When finally called upon to partner Defoe in the North London derby, Adebayor erratically lunged in on Santi Cazorla, shown a straight red and slapped with a three-match ban.

At the time of his dismissal, Spurs were 1-0 up over Arsenal through the former Gunners ace, only to succumb to a 5-2 defeat that afternoon in November. Again, his permanent career at White Hart Lane suffered yet another setback.


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Nevertheless, Villas-Boas has persisted with Adebayor upon his return to first-team action, partnering him with Defoe in a 4-4-2, with injuries to Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey seeing him handed the opportunity to cement his place in the starting XI.

You'd be right in thinking he has yet to do just this, however, often churning out a number of lackadaisical performances, much to the surprise of, well, nobody. It's well documented that when Adebayor has a point to prove, he's almost unplayable.

His first year with Manchester City, his six month stint at Real Madrid and his season long loan at Spurs last year were the finest of the 28-year-old's career in recent memory. Playing for a permanent deal in N17, it was no shock to see the striker perform to the highest of his well known standards.

Adebayor himself even admitted that he is delighted to be part of the Spurs set-up, 18 months ago confirming he's happy at the club and he wanted to remain in North London permanently.

Fans were understandably ecstatic - his aforementioned goalscoring and assist record speaks for itself. The player himself possesses all the physical attributes to become a truly world class front-man, but it's the mental aspect of his game that lets him down.

Unfortunately for Spurs fans, it's the poor mentality of Adebayor that is once again beginning to rear it's ugly head. The front-man has looked disinterested during his previous starts for the club, despite showing glimpses of his capability time and time again.

Against Sunderland, sporting a haircut that bore a striking resemblance to the alien child Will Smith delivered on Men In Black, it was a similar dogged display that football fans have, during past seasons, become accustomed to.

While Defoe may not be best suited for the 4-2-3-1 that Villas-Boas has looked to implement following his appointment last, one can't argue with his goals return this season. His height may not be ideal for the role, but he works harder than Adebayor at present and he's reaping the rewards as a result.

In the future, I have to admit, I would rather see Adebayor leading the line on his own in the system, especially if a number 10 arrives in January or over the summer. I'm not being critical of Defoe, but the movement of the Togolese front-man will draw defenders out of position and free up space for the supporting creative cast to flex their muscles.

However, he needs to get his head down and work hard if he wants to leapfrog Defoe in the pecking order, because at present he is doing little to warrant a guaranteed starting spot in the first team.