Emmanuel Adebayor finally appeared in a Spurs shirt after a long-drawn out transfer. But what is the most important thing he brings to the team?
Emmanuel Adebayor finally sealed his move to Spurs, as the long drawn out transfer came to a conclusion.
We now have two senior strikers at the club, and at last one who has the size and strength to play up front on his own, as a central number nine. Jermain Defoe is a wily predator, and may still have a role to play on the team, but Adebayor is the target man Andre Villas-Boas needed in the 2-1 loss to Newcastle.
We also know what we’re getting with Adebayor after his loan spell last season, a big target man who can keep the ball and bring others in to play. However his most important asset, which often is the most overlooked, is his movement.
The movement of Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor can do a lot of things, his 17 goals and 12 assists in the Premier League last season show that he is not just a scorer, but also a creator. What allows him to be successful as both goal getter and giver is his movement.
By way of comparison, if we look at his first game for Spurs at Wolves, where he started up front with Jermain Defoe, we can see the difference between the two players.
Adebayor receives not only long balls from goal kicks, but also drops off to link play with the midfielders. He then gets in the box to receive passes and crosses and gets his reward with a goal.
Jermain Defoe likes to pick-up the ball out to the left side of the formation when playing with a strike partner. From here he is able cut to the centre of the pitch and gets shots away. He only receives 28 passes, half the number of Adebayor, but does also get a goal, interestingly from one of his few movements to the right-hand side of the pitch.
If we also compare the two player’s performances against Newcastle we can see how each player leads the line. This is not too fair on Defoe given his lack of size and the fact that he is a goal predator, but it highlights what Spurs were missing up top at the weekend.
In last week's 2-1 loss to Newcastle, Jermain Defoe receives the ball high up the pitch as he looks to play on the shoulder of the last defender. He also looks to move out more to the left of the formation than the right, but he is more balanced here than when playing as part of a two-man strike force.
He receives just 19 passes, but again his predatory instincts allow him to mop a loose ball that has bounced around between Tim Krul and the post after Newcastle failed to clear a free-kick.
In the match against Newcastle at St. James's Park last season that finished 2-2, Emmanuel Adebayor was the loan front man for Spurs. He receives 35 passes as he is able to win long balls downfield from Brad Friedel and the defence, something that was missing at the weekend. His movement also allows him to link up play with the midfield in central and wide areas.
Once he has the ball, he is then able to bring others in to the game, as he does by setting up Defoe, who had come on as a 65th minute substitute.
Compare Adebayor’s passes in the final third a year ago against Newcastle to Defoe’s last weekend. The difference in the aggressiveness and vertical nature of the passing shows why Emmanuel Adebayor had 12 assists in the Premier League last season and Jermain Defoe just 2.
Spurs’ first goal of the day in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle last season came from the penalty spot. Steven Taylor brought down Adebayor after Jake Livermore’s through pass. His movement once again proving difficult for opposition defenders to cope with.
If we take a look at some other matches from last season, we can see more of just how much Emmanuel Adebayor moves around the formation. This makes him harder to mark, as well as showing his versatility to play as a loan striker.
Emmanuel Adebayor against Bolton
The match away at Bolton really showed off the movement of Adebayor. He again is able to take long balls from Brad Friedel and the defence to relieve pressure and instigate attacks. He also moves out wide and comes deeper centrally in order to link up with the midfield.
The reward for his movement and work rate, two goals on the night in a 4-1 Spurs win. His first comes from his willingness to make a run in between the centre backs, as he takes a defence-splitting pass from Gareth Bale. He then shows plenty of effort to get to the far post and is rewarded with a tap-in after Aaron Lennon’s unselfish pass across goal.
Emmanuel Adebayor against Swansea
Emmanuel Adebayor was particularly impressive against Swansea, not for the fact that he scored two goals, but for his effort and work rate across the whole pitch.
If we look again, we can see that he does win a few long balls from the back, but just how involved he is with passes from the midfield.
He receives 40 passes in the game, the most of which are from Rafael van der Vaart (9). When Adebayor has the ball, he also plays 7 passes to the Dutchman, so he is trying to get the ball to the playmaker and then look for a return.
Rafael van der Vaart creates 2 chances for Adebayor, but it is from the Dutchman’s corner that the Togolese international scores one of his two goals.
We knew what we were getting with Emmanuel Adebayor and that was why it was important that we signed him. His movement across the whole pitch makes him difficult to pick-up and allows him the space to get in, score goals and also create them.
Jermain Defoe is an exceptional striker, his 11 Premier League goals in limited minutes last season highlight what a good goal-getter he is. His two assists in the Premier League also highlight that he is not often able to bring his team-mates in to play, which is what Andre Villas-Boas needs from his number nine.
Despite his short comings, Jermain Defoe may still have a role to play in the side. If AVB wants to play his 4-3-3, then he will need a right-sided forward in the mould of how he used Daniel Sturridge and Hulk to play that role. If he is unable to sign someone, then Defoe could yet find himself on the pitch in the support striker role if AVB goes 4-3-3. Adebayor will find himself as the central target man, whether Andre Villas-Boas goes 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 though.
The performances against Swansea and Bolton epitomise the most important thing that Emmanuel Adebayor will bring to Spurs, his movement.