Arsenal handed Manchester City their first home defeat in the Premier League and leapfrogged over Manchester United to the league summit. The 3-1 victory gave Arsenal a two-point lead as the Red Devils experienced a slight hiccup with a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
Dimitar Berbatov’s first half effort put Tottenham in the lead but United leveled three minutes into stoppage time with a close-range Carlos Tevez volley that went in off defender Michael Dawson.
Third-placed Chelsea are six adrift after drawing 1-1 at Portsmouth as last-minute signing, Jermain Defoe scored on his debut. Everton stayed fourth after a 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers.
Adebayor has brought his league tally this season to a decent 18 for Arsenal. In the 9th minute, the Gunners cantered ahead when Adebayor unleashed a shot through Joe Hart after a surging run from Bacary Sagna. He then provided an excellent assist after 26 minutes, heading down Gael Clichy’s cross to Eduardo da Silva who chested and volleyed beyond Hart.
Manchester City were proffered an unexpected lifeline when Vedran Corluka robbed Clichy and set up Gelson Fernades for a neat finish past keeper Jens Lehmann, making a rare start in place of the injured Manuel Almunia.
The goal was a shot in the arm and City pressed hard for an equalizer but the Gunners kept them at bay and restricted them to taking potshots. It was Arsenal or rather Adebayor who, two minutes from time, wrapped up the match after Cesc Fabregas’s ball reached him on the edge of the area.
“At the moment I am enjoying myself like a little kid,” Adebayor, who has scored eight goals in his last six games, told Sky Sports. “At 2-0 we thought we had already won it but they scored and that made it a bit difficult.”
Adebayor has scored 21 goals this season and god knows where the Gunners will be, if Togo had qualified for the African Cup of Nations. It’s a treat to see him whacking the goals in from left, right and center, easy is the word, and I bet the fans as well as Wenger are impressed by how well he has developed as a player.
Certainly, as Arsenal sit aloof at the top, Thierry Henry who left for Barcelona last year in a 16 million pounds transaction is hardly missed. It was a rewarding deal, not least because Adebayor filled the void well but also because of the depreciation from Henry’s age. Henry was also not keen to stay with the Gunners as he yearned for challenges aboard and most importantly to clinch a Champions League medal to complete the European Championships and World Cup glories in his CV.
With Adebayor, it is fair to say there is an extra edge to Arsenal’s attack now. While Henry’s pace, guile and close control of the ball is legendary, he is lacking in the air prowess and brute force of Adebayor. The latter has mastered the art of outjumping defenders - inherent height advantage aside, there is also timing and strength involved. Adebayor has also forged a formidable partnership with Eduardo. The only sore points are his indiscipline and ongoing feud with fellow striker Bendtner.
Wenger could be facing a tough battle to keep Adebayor as there are reports of Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan being interested. Even if he is forced to sell, it will definitely be at a much higher price than the 7 million pounds he paid Monaco, which again is a firm indication of the Midas touch of Wenger when it comes to development of young players.
Another positive for Arsenal comes from defender Philippe Senderos who is gradually finding his feet. A long-term injury had reduced him to a pale shadow of the brilliant player which caught the eyes of several bigwigs before the World Cup 2006. He had a solid game against Manchester City and the partnership with Gallas is clicking. The stratgey of Senderos stopping the opponent in his track while Gallas waits for the straying second ball is working wonders.
Their defensive telepathy will be crucial in their league title race but I expect more twists and turns before the champion is revealed.