Tim Sherwood has warned Arsenal that they will not get their wish of Emmanuel Adebayor being absent from today’s derby FA Cup tie at the Emirates.
Adebayor’s Tottenham career has been revived by Sherwood, and the new head coach said last night that he provoked the same fear in opponents as Wayne Rooney. Adebayor scored at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day but was then taken off on a stretcher.
“It did not look great when he came off on that stretcher but he is a warrior,” Sherwood said last night. “There is no holding him back at the moment. He got cramp in every part of his body and we weren’t sure what to rub and put ice on next. He was really struggling but the guys have given him some treatment and I am sure it is going to be fine.”
Sherwood did not think that news would go down particularly well within the Arsenal camp. “It is huge. I think if Arsène Wenger saw him limping off at Old Trafford, I’m sure there were a lot of pleased Arsenal fans and management and players, but unfortunately he’s going to be walking out against them.”
Adebayor has been excellent since Sherwood replaced Andre Villas-Boas and brought the out-of-favour striker back into the first team, using him in a far more open 4-4-2 system. Adebayor has scored four goals in five games and Sherwood predicted that he would cause as much anxiety as United’s Rooney.
“Every club he’s ever played for, the fans respect him for the player he is. There are certain players when the team sheet comes in you scan down and see if they’re playing. I did it at Old Trafford, to see if Rooney’s playing straight away, and I’m sure Arsenal would be doing the same with Adebayor.”
Adebayor is not a particularly popular figure at the Emirates and, even though Wenger said last night he wanted him to be “respected”, he almost certainly will not be. Adebayor left Arsenal for Manchester City for £25m in 2009, and in his first game against them he kicked Robin van Persie in the face before provocatively celebrating a goal in front of the travelling Arsenal fans.
Last season, in Adebayor’s last game back at the Emirates, he was sent off after just 17 minutes for a reckless tackle on Santi Cazorla. Sherwood attempted to play that down last night and did not expect the same problems today.
“Adebayor is cleverer than people think. He realises and he learns from his mistakes. It was a 50-50 and it could have gone either way whether he got sent off, so he might have been a bit unfortunate. I’m sure he’s learnt from that and let’s keep our fingers crossed he stays on all the game.”
The transformation in Adebayor’s fortunes, from outcast to most important player, is the most dramatic of many in the last few months at Tottenham. Adebayor is in one of his spells where he looks almost unplayable, and for all the complaints about his attitude – an opinion shared by Villas-Boas – Sherwood denied ever having had a problem with him.
“I can only comment from inside the club, the boys have always respected him,” Sherwood said. “The players have always known he is a top player and if they can get the best out of him everyone will benefit from that and I really believe that they are treating him with the respect and he certainly gives it back to them.
“He is a good character around the place, total professional and is really focused on game to game, and it says a lot about him that he was obviously under some stress coming off on the stretcher. For him to put himself in the frame for another huge game... well, he knows how big this game is.”
Sherwood also denied his club had made any enquiries about signing Joleon Lescott from City. “He is a good player, but there are a lot of good players at different clubs. He is at City at the moment so I can’t comment on that. We don’t need [new] players. We need to get the ones we have fit.”