Booed on Saturday, forgiven on Sunday. A little bit of badge-kissing can go a long way if, like Emmanuel Adebayor, you can chip in with the winning goal and are brass-necked enough to get all touchy-feely about a club you have spent most of the summer trying to leave.
It was without a hint of irony, and no shame, that Adebayor pressed his lips to the club crest on his jersey when he buried the penalty that beat Real Madrid at the Emirates yesterday. The day before there had been boos from a minority of the Arsenal crowd when Adebayor touched the ball which, for a home support usually about as rebellious as the Swiss national guard, was quite telling. By yesterday they were much better disposed to the striker, who had agreed to sign a new contract on Friday.
Adebayor's name was given an indifferent response that bordered upon the hostile when it was read out at the start, before he went on to demonstrate just what a crucial figure he will be this season. The penalty was expertly dispatched but it was the burst of pace and skill that took him past Mahamadou Diarra, Gabriel Heinze and Javier Garcia and into the box in the second half that was most emphatic. If he had poked the ball inside the post it would have been a brilliant goal, but it was still another persuasive reason for keeping Adebayor.
For the fans who have made themselves aware of how eagerly Adebayor courted Milan and Barcelona this summer, there will have been a queasy response to his badge-kissing. Arsène Wenger doubtless looks at it pragmatically: Arsenal cannot afford to do without this man.
If you listen to Adebayor himself, the uncertainty that surrounded his future over the summer seems to have disappeared as abruptly as the summer in north London. He says it was an invention of the newspapers – who else? – and seems unwilling to take any responsibility himself. "I'm very happy," he said yesterday. "When you net 30 goals in a season, a lot of clubs come looking for you, but this club is one of the biggest in the world and I have a big chance to have a good career at this club.
"When there is a lot of speculation they [the fans] believe what they read in the newspapers. The most important thing is to keep on enjoying your football."
Well accustomed to dealing with the fickle nature of young footballers, Wenger would only say that Adebayor had responded in the best possible way. "He felt people questioned his commitment and the best answer you can give to that is on the pitch," he said. "Play well and show you are ready to fight for the shirt. He does that and he is a man with character. If you score goals then people forget quickly."
Pressed on whether Arsenal will bid for Gareth Barry, Wenger admitted: "I like him but I also like two or three other players." His team, who lost 1-0 to Juventus on Saturday, did not win the pre-season Emirates Cup – that went to Hamburg, who lost to Real Madrid then beat Juventus 3-0 yesterday. It was goals scored that gave Martin Jol his first triumph over Wenger. Yesterday's game was marred by a cruciate ligament injury to Wesley Sneijder that means he will miss the whole season.
The Real Madrid manager, Bernd Schuster, complained about the intensity of yesterday's game but said that the injury would not affect whether Real bought Cristiano Ronaldo or sold Robinho. An outbreak of badge-kissing would be inadvisable for those two as well.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna, Gallas (Djourou, 89), Senderos, Clichy; Walcott (Eboue, 66), Diaby (Ramsey, 75), Denilson, Nasri (Wilshere, 75); Adebayor (Bendtner, 75), Van Persie (Vela, 66). Substitutes not used: Fabianski (gk), J Hoyte, G Hoyte, Lansbury, Randall.
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Dudek; Salgado, Garcia, Heinze, Torres; Diarra (De La Red, 79), Guti; Callejon (Robben h-t), Baptista (Sneijder h-t; Parejo, 59), Robinho (Saviola, 60); Raul (Van Nistelrooy, h-t). Substitutes not used: S Ramos, F Ramos (gk), Metzelder, Anton.
Referee: M Clattenburg (England).Reuse content