LONDON // Emmanuel Adebayor suffered a barrage of abuse on his return to north London but he failed to silence the Arsenal supporters as Manchester City blew the chance to reclaim fourth spot. City were handed a major boost going into the game after rivals Manchester United had done them a massive favour by beating Tottenham earlier in the day. Roberto Mancini knew a victory would put them back in the driving seat as they look to secure a place in the Champions League next season, but they had to settle for a draw which takes them to within a point of Tottenham with three games left.
City were not at their fluent best and failed to trouble the Arsenal defence throughout the 90 minutes. The day got even worse when Shay Given, their goalkeeper was carried off on a stretcher with a suspected dislocated shoulder in the second half and is expected to miss the rest of the season, All the talk surrounding the game was the return of Adebayor who was making his first appearance at Emirates Stadium since his £25 million (Dh141.5m) move to City last summer.
Adebayor almost caused a riot at Eastlands earlier in the season when he raced the length of the pitch to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal fans during their 4-2 victory. The Togo striker was also fined £25,000 and handed a two-match suspended ban for stamping on his former teammate Robin van Persie during the same game. Wenger had called for the Arsenal supporters to lay-off Adebayor and they were forced to wait for his introduction as Mancini made a bold move by leaving him on the substitutes bench.
Instead, the Arsenal supporters turned their attention to another City player and applauded the return of former hero Patrick Vieira who enjoyed a memorable nine-year spell with the club. Vieira, 33, won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups and was desperate to show he can still compete at the highest level. The first half was dire to say the least and the first attempt on goal came on 36 minutes when Mikael Silvestre saw his looping header fall just over the bar.
Despite Wenger's request to lay off Adebayor, it came as no surprise when Arsenal supporters vented their anger at the City striker when he warmed up at the start of the second half. The boos echoed around the Emirates, but Adebayor, who was sporting a pigtail haircut was trying to shrug off the abuse with a smile. Mancini called for Adebayor to replace Vieira on 51 minutes. You could probably hear the jeers in most of north London as the decibel levels rose following his introduction to the action.
Although Adebayor gave a new lease of life to the City attack, it was the home side who came the closest to getting a winner on 70 minutes. Abou Diaby turned Gareth Barry and fired a low shot which produced a superb save from Given diving low to his left. The City keeper landed heavily on his shoulder while making the save and had to leave the field with a suspected dislocation. He needed oxygen and was replaced by Gunnar Nielsen.
Although City held on to record a point, Mancini will know this was an opportunity missed for his side as Arsenal's season is all but over and they were missing 10 first-team players. City's crunch home game against Tottenham on May 5 will go a long way to influencing which team will be playing in the Champions League next season. email@example.com