ESPN FC Extra: Arsenal-Spurs preview
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised the abilities and fitness levels of Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor, as the Togo striker prepares to make a return to Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash.
Ex-Arsenal striker Adebayor has seen his Tottenham career revived since manager Andre Villas-Boas was sacked by the club last month, with his impressive performances helping to set up wins against Southampton, Stoke and Manchester United over the Christmas period.
Now Adebayor will be eager to continue his revival against the Gunners and he has received this glowing tribute from his former manager.
“He’s a player with special talent, I’m in a good position to know,” Wenger said. “What is amazing for him is how fit he was when he came back, how quickly he adapted to top-level competition again.
“With [Roberto] Soldado and Adebayor together, they have found a balance and at the moment that suits the team well. That’s certainly the pair that we’ll have to keep quiet.”
Wenger believes the Tim Sherwood-led Tottenham side coming to Emirates Stadium this weekend are a far more ambitious team than the version Villas-Boas was directing a month ago.
“They are more adventurous,” he added of Spurs. “Tottenham took a gamble with [the appointment of] Sherwood and at the moment it paid off, but if you look at their overall record since the start of the season, it isn’t bad. I’m not surprised that Tottenham can win football games.
“They won at Man United [on New Year’s Day] but Man United this season, even if I think Tottenham played very well, are a bit more vulnerable. They took advantage well of that because they played at a good pace going forward.
“Their confidence is certainly up. This will be two teams playing with confidence to go through, so it should be a very exciting tie. Our rivalry with Tottenham has not changed. It’s always a fight to get in front of Tottenham as they are a team that has big potential.”
Germany international Lukas Podolski is expected to be handed the lead striker’s role by Wenger for Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash, with Wenger set to be without injured duo Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner.
“What I can tell you is that from the last game we lost Nicklas Bendtner,” he added. “We don’t know how serious his injury is at the moment because he had a scan yesterday. His scan will be assessed today [Friday].
“For the rest, Giroud’s ankle injury was quite positive yesterday in the test, but he was sick overnight so he has a 90 percent chance of being out. He is in bed today. I think Mesut Ozil will have a test later, but I think he will be short.
“The advantage of playing against a big opponent is that the team will be focused naturally. I would only rest players who are on the fringe of injury or very, very tired. That will be restricted to a small number of players.”
Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs will also miss the Tottenham game, but Wenger confirmed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is close to a first-team return as he prepares to return to full training next week.