In the Nick of time, Adebayor may be replaced
Nicklas Bendtner has been the discarded Emmanuel Adebayor’s like-for-like alternate since the pair became squad members at the beginning of the 2007/08 season.
That was also when Adebayor’s path into the big time was paved and Bendtner’s emergence as a striker may well be reminiscent of that of the Togolese, should Wenger remain keeping faith in what he has – as expected.
How is Bendtner’s career at a similar turning point to that of Adebayor’s a couple of years ago?
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2007. Adebayor had fared out a 2006/07 season as third striker behind Henry and Van Persie with 12 goals and some improvable finishing to show for.
Like the Bendtner of 2008/09, Adebayor occasionally unleashed top-notch strikes which still failed to disguise a habit of wastefulness. In either scenario, both strikers came out with a considerable tally of over 10 goals. Bendtner with 15 last season, and Adebayor with 12 that time.
For forwards who had been in and out of the team during those campaigns, that exceeded the amount we had bargained for.
Still on a flashback of 2007…Henry would launch a very turbulent summer by leaving a massive void in Arsenal’s attacking armory after heading for Barcelona.
Van Persie – his brilliance as persistent as his injuries – would jump a class higher by becoming Wenger’s first choice striker. But his inability to last the course of a campaign meant Wenger would have more promoting to do.
Adebayor became the new big head upfront and after opening his account in the third game of the season against Portsmouth, he would hit a brace in the north London derby, and then a hat-trick against Derby.
But the goals would stop flowing.
Then were times when Fabregas and the rest of Arsenal’s midfield were solitary source of goals, times when Van Persie’s injury woes and Wenger’s refusal to recruit a proven striker became a rueful decision, and indeed, times when some were caught between Adebayor and even the learning Bendtner – afterall, they were similar players.
Adebayor would only record two goals in that dry spell, and after the lackluster 0-0 stalemate at Portsmouth on boxing day 2007, some had seen enough of Arsenal’s lone striker.
If you could all honestly recall these times, it seemed as though Adebayor’s one and only fan was a man called Arsene Wenger.
The boss finally met the wishes of many by omitting the Togolese from the starting line-up of a league fixture for the first time and preferred a Bendtner & Eduardo partnership upfront in the last game of 2007 at Everton.
That was the day Eduardo would hit a brace, Bendtner would be sent off, and Adebayor would rediscover his scoring touch with a late goal from the bench as icing on the cake in a 4-1 win.
From then on, the lanky front man would literally refuse to stop scoring.
Adebayor netted a goal in every single game from the first of new year 2008 till February 25, 2008. Yes, the day he would unleash his new hair cut with the braids off, and of course, the day Eduardo da Silva would be left stricken.
Adebayor’s new rediscovery would be a goal-missing touch. Some coincided his poor form with a superstition about changing his hair style and after having a single goal that came at the San Siro to show for a stretch of almost two months, Adebayor added a few more strikes to his collection, and for good grace, he met Derby County again, and was gifted a hat-trick again.
Even so, the 25-year-old would come for his fair share of criticism following that season. Some critics stressed he could have accounted more as the main striker of an incredibly creative midfield.
Others argued a 30-goal scorer definitely stood out, and to his praise, Adebayor would be nominated for the PFA and FIFA Player of the year awards after scooping the 2007 BBC African player of the year accolade.
What could not be argued, was the fact that Wenger’s irresistible faith in Adebayor, which often baffled us and led to some laughing off as a “boy friend”-like relationship between the manager and player is what had paid off.
Had Arsene listened to fans who wanted Adebayor warming the bench back in October 2007, the Togolese would have never enjoyed his best season as a professional footballer.
Therefore, Bendtner – who is in a similar scenario to Adebayor before 2007/08 – may deserve the promotion and “boy friend”-like sort of faith that the new Man. City signing benefited from Wenger.
Whether the Dane will be as successful is obviously unknown, but perhaps not an unwritten script.
Give him the ball, and he may score.