x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Parker and Adebayor are the dynamic duo at Spurs

The north London club has seemingly cemented themselves in the top four since the signing of the striker and midfielder just before the summer transfer window shut.

Tottenham Hotspur have much improved since the arrival of Scott Parker, second left, and Emmanuel Adebayor, centre.
Tottenham Hotspur have much improved since the arrival of Scott Parker, second left, and Emmanuel Adebayor, centre.

There may be lies, damned lies and statistics but Tottenham's surge from the bottom two to the top three of the Premier League has coincided with the arrival of two players.

Quite apart from their footballing merits, the significance of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor can be measured in points: 28 from a possible 30 in the 10 matches they have played, a 93 per cent success ratio.

But there are other measures of strikers' contributions and Adebayor's return of seven goals has been healthy. It has brought reminders of his 30-goal campaign for Arsenal in 2007/08 and William Gallas, a teammate on both halves of North London, believes a repeat is feasible.

"I have told him I want him to do the same here," the Frenchman said. "When he has confidence he can do whatever he wants."

That involves solving the tactical conundrum Tottenham have faced since Rafael van der Vaart's recruitment in August 2010; how to accommodate the Dutchman?

Given his preference for a free role, that has tended to mean a solitary striker. But none, until Adebayor's arrival, had the blend of physical and technical ability, the goalscoring prowess and the self-sufficiency to operate alone in attack. And, he said recently, to double up as the first line of defence. "It's not all about scoring goals, it's about what you put into the game," he said. "You have to defend for the team, run for the team. Myself, Rafa, Aaron Lennon, Gareth [Bale], we all work back."

But while Jermain Defoe's sharpness makes him hard to omit (and yet an ideal impact substitute) the pecking order has become entrenched, leading the Englishman to ponder a January departure.

Adebayor and Van der Vaart are the odd couple, the tall, rangy Togolese and his stockier, more inventive sidekick. Each has Real Madrid on his CV, yet this is both a partnership and an alliance of individuals, as the statistics show.

The target man's seven goals have all come in games when the Dutchman has not netted - indeed, Van der Vaart has only been on the pitch for two of them - and have come in spurts, four in his last two following a six-match drought. Van der Vaart was prolific in between, scoring in five successive matches, missing out only against Fulham when, for good measure, Defoe came off the bench to strike.

Adebayor has provided three assists for Van der Vaart. After feeding off Peter Crouch's knock-downs last year, he has formed a similar understanding with a towering striker. A hamstring injury puts the latter's participation against Bolton today in doubt, but as Adebayor appears more prolific in his absence, that may be not be the blow it once would have been.

Each has had a quiet midweek. Neither was even registered to play in the Europa League group stages and, with Spurs' involvement on the continent unlikely to extend into the New Year, their appearances could be rationed for the rest of the campaign. It makes Gallas' 30-goal target seem unlikely but gives Adebayor the chance to take on the men Manchester City prefer - Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko - in the Premier League scoring charts and turn his season-long loan into an advertisement of his ability.

His star waned at Etihad Stadium, Roberto Mancini preferring the all-out energy of Carlos Tevez. From one of the division's most feared strikers, he seemed to be carrying too much baggage out of the Eastlands exit.

Now, rejuvenated and reinvigorated, he has returned to the player Arsenal fans eulogised. At his best, to use Redknapp's description, he is unplayable. For a Bolton defence already breached 31 times this season, that will be the fear.