As Tottenham prepare to face Stoke City in today's early kick-off, Vincent Ralph turns the spotlight on Emmanuel Adebayor.
Emmanuel Adebayor would be the first to admit this season has been one to forget for the Togo striker. And yet with two games remaining, it could still end up being one to remember.
The 29-year-old’s goal and assist in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea last week showed the fans and wider football community that he still has it. And while the result left his side praying for slip-ups elsewhere, he will go into today’s early kick-off at Stoke City knowing a repeat performance will keep a Champions League place within touching distance.
With fourth-placed Arsenal not playing until Tuesday – when they face a Wigan side that has just secured the FA Cup – three points at the Britannia today will see Spurs leapfrog the Gunners.
Were that to happen, what was already a difficult match against a Latics side fighting relegation suddenly becomes even trickier for Arsene Wenger's side.
Adebayor’s season up to now has been one of injury and frustration. The fact that he was also missing during January’s Africa Cup of Nations didn’t help matters.
Last season, while on loan from Manchester City, the forward scored 17 league goals for the Lillywhites, shooting them into the top four only to have Champions League football snatched from them by a penalty shoot-out in Munich.
This campaign, Adebayor has netted just four times in the league and three times in Europe.
But the former Arsenal man now has the chance to rob his old team of a place in the European elite. And it is something he appears fully focused on.
“My head, my concentration, my focus, my life belongs to Tottenham,” he said. “If we finish above Arsenal I will be very happy.”
With Stoke now safe from relegation, they are the side with little to play for. And yet as the Premier League continually demonstrates, there is no such thing as a dead-rubber. Stoke manager Tony Pulis will not allow it.
Tottenham must win today – it is that simple.
And they must win again in their last game at home to Sunderland.
They will then be hoping Arsenal slip up either against the Latics or in their tricky last game away to a relegation-haunted Newcastle side.
But for now they will focus on themselves, with manager Andre Villas-Boas hoping that Adebayor hasn’t used up all his stardust during one night at Stamford Bridge.
Can Adebayor be the difference again this afternoon? And what does the future hold for the Togo striker?
image: © wonker