Tim Sherwood has warned Arsenal that former striker Emmanuel Adebayor is coming for them in Saturday's FA Cup north London derby. Adebayor was carried off on a stretcher with cramp in the New Year's Day victory over Manchester United, but has declared himself fit to face his old club at the Emirates. Spurs head coach Sherwood has compared Adebayor's impact to that of United's Wayne Rooney and claims Arsenal will have been hoping he would be missing.
"I think if Arsene Wenger saw Adebayor going off at Old Trafford, I'm sure there were a lot of pleased Arsenal fans, management and players," said Sherwood. "But, unfortunately for them, he's going to be walking out against them today. "There are certain players when the teamsheet comes in you scan down and see if they're playing. I did it at Old Trafford, see if Rooney's playing straight away and I'm sure Arsenal will be doing the same with Adebayor.
"It didn't look great when he came off on that stretcher, but he is a warrior. "He had cramp in every part of his body. We weren't sure what [part of his body] to rub and put ice on next. He was really struggling but there is no holding him back at the moment. "He's a top player, simple as that. He has a real desire to want to play and he is one of the top players in the Premier League."
Adebayor spent three years at Arsenal, scoring 62 goals in 142 appearances, but upset the club's fans by quitting to join Manchester City. The bad feeling was made worse when he marked a goal against his old club by running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of their supporters and was banned for three games for kicking Robin van Persie in the face. Having been frozen out by previous Tottenham head coach Andre Villas-Boas, Adebayor has scored four goals in five games since being restored to the starting line-up. He was sent off during his last appearance at the Emirates for Spurs after scoring, but Sherwood is confident the 29-year-old will channel his motivation in the right direction.
"He is cleverer than people think," said Sherwood. "He realises and he learns from his mistakes. It was a 50-50 and it could have gone either way whether he got sent-off last season, so he might have been a bit unfortunate. I'm sure he's learnt from that and let's keep our fingers crossed he stays on all the game. "Every club he's ever played for, the fans respect him for the player he is. Let's hope the script is there to be written today." Sherwood revealed that he never saw Adebayor when Villas-Boas banished him to train with the under-21s, but insists the Togo international is yet to cause him any trouble. "Yeah, I read he was training with me and the development squad, but I never ever saw him," said Sherwood.
"I don't know how he was treated. I wasn't a party to that. I am not going to worry about how he was treated. I am worried about how I treat him now. I am certain I will show him the respect he deserves as long as he continues to show that respect to me.
"I think inside the club, I can only comment from inside the club, the boys have always respected him. The players have always known he is a top player and if they can get the best out of him everyone will benefit from that. He is a good character around the place, a total professional and is really focused on the games. I have never heard Adebayor talking about anything other than the games and enjoying training and looking forward to the next games. He loves scoring goals.
"I try to bring him off the pitch to protect him at times and he gives me that stare. But sometimes you just have to do it. He knows I'm doing it for the right reasons and he respects that. I think if he's scored, then he doesn't mind coming off." Sherwood was a player at Blackburn when Wenger took over at Arsenal in 1996, but does not believe the secret to successful management has changed since then.
"I used to speak to the Arsenal players and it was a culture shock for them when Arsene Wenger first went in," said Sherwood. "But the important thing was they won. When you win, the manager has the players' ears. He can say 'stand on your head in a corner' and they'll do it. If you start winning games, players believe anything you say." Sherwood had planned to give his first-team players a rest, but once the draw was made he changed his mind straight away.
"We would love to have played a lower league team and blood some younger players, but once that name comes out of the hat - Arsenal at the Emirates - it's impossible to do that," he said. "It's the biggest game possible for this club and it would be fantastic if we could win and perhaps take Tottenham to the final."