Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inform Adebayor Could Be the Odd One Out

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inform Adebayor Could Be the Odd One Out

Article excerpt


AS THE goalscoring hero of the 1-0 win at Manchester United which kick-started Arsenal's Premiership season, Emmanuel Adebayor could be forgiven for thinking that he had made an irrefutable case for himself as a first-choice starter.

But so sparkling has some of the play been when they have deployed a lone striker that Arsene Wenger might be thinking that it is a viable tactic in the helter-skelter arena of domestic football as well as the more rarified environs of the Champions League.

In which case, Adebayor would be the sacrificial lamb, possibly starting with tomorrow's London derby against Charlton.

With a fully fit Thierry Henry undroppable - even when below par against Sheffield United last weekend he effected all three goals - the Togo international, whose ungainly style often masks a sleek technique and unlikely change of pace, would be relegated to the role of first reserve.

Arsenal's European campaign reached new heights last season with the introduction of 4-1-4-1 and Henry deployed as a one-man strikeforce.

Wenger revisited the system this season at Old Trafford and again at Emirates on Tuesday with conspicuous success.

Some of the interplay between Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas and Alexander Hleb made a mockery of the theory that fielding extra numbers in midfield is excessively negative. There is no stodge on the Wenger menu.

Furthermore, the players are coming round to the idea that 4-1-4-1, 4-5-1 or 4-3-3, however you dress it up, is the best method of extracting outstanding performances from the team.

As Fabregas pointed out after orchestrating Tuesday's 2-0 win over Porto: "Personally I feel comfortable playing 4-3-3 because I feel more protected with Gilberto holding there and I can go more into the box."

The system that clearly suits Rosicky - releasing him from his cage on the left wing - and gives Arsenal almost limitless creativity in the central acres.

However, Wenger's preference is for a pair of forwards in domestic competition. His hands were tied for the United game, as Henry and Robin van Persie, the club's third senior striker,were unavailable, which almost forced the Arsenal manager into utilising Adebayor on his own. …

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