The Curious Case of Emmanuel Adebayor


What is behind Emmanuel Adebayor's slow start to 2012/2013? Is he a better fit upfront for Tottenham than Defoe? Today on the blog Matt Swan takes a look at Spurs' enigmatic forward.


Last season Emmanuel Adebayor was one of the main reasons behind Tottenham’s success. Having joined on loan from Manchester City after Tottenham had lost their first two games, he was a catalyst (along with Scot Parker) for Spurs to go on an unbeaten run to be in the driving seat for a 3rd placed finish.

Although the season eventually ended disappointment with Spurs slipping to 4th place, the quality that Adebayor displayed ensured that they would be keen to secure his signature for the current campaign.

Last Season's Impact

Having finished as Tottenham’s highest scorer with 17 goals and also weighing in with an impressive 10 assists, it was hoped that he would start this season where he had left off in the previous campaign. However, that has not been the case and he has managed just a solitary goal and not one assist so far this season.

So what has happened to the man that took centre stage for his team last year?

Issues This Season

Controversy seems to follow Adebayor wherever he plays and the cynics would argue that now he has secured a contract and is not playing to earn one, he lacks interest and is a shadow of his former self. However, I believe there are other issues behind Adebayor struggling for form.

Much like last season, this campaign began without Adebayor having a pre-season. With a protracted transfer that dragged on over the summer, Adebayor arrived with a lack of match fitness and was unable to start games, finding it incredibly difficult to have an impact on games when coming from the bench. With the goal scoring form that Defoe was in, he struggled to get back into the side. A combination of niggling injuries and self inflicted suspension meant that he has had a stuttering start this season.

Additionally, Adebayor was at his best in a lone striker role last term. He was able to use his attributes to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Often dropping deep to receive the ball and was also an outlet when the team was under pressure. With the creativity of Modric and Van der Vaart supplying him with the ammunition, he was able to have an impact upon games. In a 4-4-2 and alongside Defoe, he has struggled with the system and has been ineffectual in a number of recent games.

Adebayor vs Defoe

However, I believe that Tottenham are at their best when playing with one up top and a 5 man midfield, as AVB preferred (although was perhaps forced in to with his lack of striking options) at the start of the season. I think Adebayor is much more suited to the lone striker role, although it is difficult to drop Defoe with the little man in one of his best spells of form in a Spurs shirt.

Adebayor has only played this role once so far this term, away at the Etihad. He excelled in the role and was a nuisance to the City backline throughout, holding up play and selflessly bringing others into the game. When playing a lone striker role he is more effective than Defoe in bringing others into play and his all round work ethic and team play is a level above. Defoe is a goal scorer and will shoot at every opportunity even if there are others placed in better positions. The effectiveness of Adebayor of retaining possession and bringing others in to play can be seen in the stats below.

Minutes On Pitch 560' 1536'
Passes 241 268
Minutes Per Pass 2.32 5.73
Chances Created 11 22
Minutes Per Chance Created 50.91 69.82

Stats as at 28th December 2012.

Despite having significantly more playing time, Defoe has only attempted 27 more passes than Adebayor. Adebayor gets more involved making a pass every 2.3 minutes whereas Defoe makes a pass just under every 6 minutes on average.

Adebayor also creates a chance every 51 minutes whereas Defoe takes almost 70 minutes to create a chance for a team mate. One criticism of Defoe is he will often take shots himself when a team mate is better placed to convert a chance. With the goal scoring form he is in though it is hard to begrudge him that.


With a run of games playing his favoured and most effective role as a lone striker I still fully expect him to come good. His performances have generally been below par in recent games but an on song Adebayor is a handful for any defence.

AVB has to decide whether to stick to playing both Adebayor and Defoe, or who to give the nod to in the lone striking role. While Defoe is clearly the striker on form and would be difficult to drop, Adebayor is still best suited to the lone striker role for me.


The Odds: Adebayor is currently best priced at 7.50 with Bet Victor to score first against Sunderland today and best priced at 3.00 with Stan James to score anytime.



Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_swan40

Tags:  Football , Matt Swan

I am a lifelong Spurs fan and season ticket holder. Sucked in by Lineker and Gaza and haven't looked back since. After suffering years of mid-table mediocrity, I am enjoying being in the battle for 4th place. Enjoy having a bet and currently addicted to Betfair!