Old boy finds love and savours revenge

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The Independent Football

"I want you to know that the level of verbal intimidation towards me, my family, friends and comrades has become intolerable. And the lack of support and understanding from my management has left me with no option but to get my cape and go."

This statement was printed in Manchester City's match programme and could easily have come from the mouth of Emmanuel Adebayor. The words were Noel Gallagher's and described not the divorce between Arsène Wenger and his principal striker but the demise of Oasis.

All week Adebayor had been looking back in anger, stressing that City had given him something he lacked at Arsenal; unconditional love.

He nursed his grievance with a passion Heathcliff would have recognised and, when he scored, sprinted the length of the pitch to throw himself to his knees in front of those he had called "fans who are not fans".

The Arsenal contingent surged forward, so did a line of police and stewards, while Shay Given tried to encourage his centre-forward to get back on his feet and up the field. It was a slice of stupidity.

"I am sorry for this," he admitted afterwards. "Sometimes the emotion takes over. A lot has been said before this game [mostly it has to be said by Adebayor]. People who love me know how I behave."

But then it is also in his nature to perform with sometimes outrageous ability. Scorning Manchester City's summer spending, Sir Alex Ferguson remarked that Wenger always knew when it was the right time to sell a footballer, arguing that Adebayor would not know the same heights he had trod at the Emirates. Some, seeing how Arsenal have struggled to impose themselves since Patrick Vieira's departure, would dispute the first statement and Adebayor's displays this season have been emphatic.

Midway through the second half, however, it seemed the only impact Adebayor would have on the game would be the stud marks that he left on Robin van Persie's face. And then he exploded. He drove to the byline, rode two tackles, slipped the ball through William Gallas' legs and presented Shaun Wright-Phillips with an opportunity it seemed impossible to miss. It was almost Cruyff-like in its audacity but executed with a boxer's power and agility.

Then as Arsenal – who were attacking beautifully but defending dreadfully enough to suggest that the partnership of Gallas and Kolo Touré was broken up too soon – drove forward, Adebayor cleared off the line. By the end, Arsenal were threatening a result as bad as the 5-1 defeat by Tottenham in the League Cup semi-final – the night when Adebayor went over to Nicklas Bendtner and told him he was useless.

The most coherent and damning charge against Adebayor was by exchanging a club in the Champions' League for one that could offer no European football, his motive was nakedly financial. And yet he may only have to wait a season. This was the first real test of what Mark Hughes calls the "project". Wenger admitted that City had "negotiated the turning points of the game better than we did". That is another way of saying City took their chances when it mattered, that has always been the formula for champions.