Arsenal return for Man City trio
By Jonny Payne.
As Manchester City disembark their coach at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium tomorrow, two of their players will have to concentrate on which dressing room to enter.
Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor must be so accustomed to Arsenal’s dressing room that it is inbuilt in their own personal satellite navigation, but they will have to remember they are on the away side tomorrow.
Toure, a firm fan’s favourite at the Emirates, will surely be welcomed with open arms after seven years at the club. His all-action, committed style won him many friends – apart from William Gallas of course – and he will never be forgotten as one of ‘The Invincibles’ team that went unbeaten for the whole season.
Toure told Sky Sports: “I have always a great relationship with the (Arsenal) fans, but now I am in a new family and I think they are all fantastic.”
The Ivorian added: “I think it is going to be a great, great day for all of us because we are all looking forward to going back and playing against our old team.”
Another player who could be playing against his former club tomorrow is Patrick Vieira, undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players. Wenger nurtured Vieira from a lost, temperamental boy into one of the world’s true greats. Vieira won two doubles with the club, captained ‘The Invincibles’ on their unbeaten run, and his last kick was fittingly the winning penalty against Manchester United in the 2004/5 F.A. Cup Final.
Wenger said: “ They have a special link to the club. Patrick is a legend here, he’s played here for a long time and he was captain of the club for a long time. Of course Kolo Toure was also here for a long time and Adebayor for two or three years. There is always something that remains, and on our side we are always grateful for what the players have done for the club.”
Vieira will surely be given an equally warm reception as fellow countrymen Robert Pires and Thierry Henry have in recent years.
If Toure and Vieira will be welcomed back with open arms, another of Wenger’s protégés will certainly not.
Emmanuel Adebayor left Arsenal under a cloud last summer with many seeing the Togolese striker as a prime example of a modern-day mercenary footballer. After one good season at Arsenal, in which he scored 30 goals, Adebayor and his agent reportedly tried to engineer a move away from the club – the result, a vastly improved contract at Arsenal.
Despite staying at Arsenal, it seemed as though Adebayor had actually left. His demeanor and lethargic displays were a sure sign of discontent, add to that internal spats with the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, and it was a recipe for disaster. With the team unsettled, Arsenal struggled to a disappointing fourth place.
The striker’s move soon materialized, but instead mingling with the fashionistas in the city of Milan or the sun-cad beauties of Barcelona, he found himself facing the delights of rainy Manchester.
He seemed instantly settled though and started the season in good form, however his first meeting with his former club once again eluded to his wayward character.
First he stamped on Robin van Persie, his old strike partner, and then after scoring to send Man City three-one ahead, he ran the length of the field to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans. This lead to stools (the seating variety, although many Arsenal fans would agree that the other type would have been better suited), burgers and mobile phones being thrown at the African.
With much of the season to prepare, Arsenal fans will surely have more treats in store for former Monaco man.
Toure said he and Vieira have spoken to Adebayor about the need to focus on the game,
“I had a word with him, Patrick had a word with him as well. The most important thing for him is to play and to give everything for our club Man City,” Toure said.
“[I told him] just to calm down and focus on the game because that’s the most important.
“If we start to be emotional that’s when we can drop some points. For us the most important thing is to win the game.”
Arsene Wenger also understands the emotions involved, but hopes that the fans will turn their voices towards their own team instead of goading Adebayor. The Arsenal manager said:
“No [we don’t want fans abusing Adebayor]. we want our crowd to support our team it’s what we need in a game like that at the moment, and that’s all you want.”
Like Ashley Cole before him though, Adebayor will be in for a torrent of abuse, but let’s hope the cries of derision do not drown out the worthy praise of two of Arsenal’s true legends – welcome back Kolo and Paddy.
What do you think of the return of the three former Gunners? Have your say below:
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