Adebayor on the up - AVB

Andre Villas-Boas thinks Emmanuel Adebayor could be the key to helping Tottenham pull off a victory against Basle.

Last Updated: 10/04/13 at 23:24 Post Comment   

Emmanuel Adebayor: In good form

Emmanuel Adebayor: In good form

Andre Villas-Boas thinks Emmanuel Adebayor could be the key to helping Tottenham pull off an improbable victory against Basle which would see the club move into their first European semi-final in 29 years.

Basle stunned Spurs in last week's first leg, racing to a 2-0 lead inside 35 minutes. The Swiss champions then wasted a series of opportunities to effectively kill the quarter-final off, but Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored to leave the tie delicately poised.

Adebayor followed up his strike against the Swiss with another well-taken goal against Everton, and, had it not been for the woodwork, his tally would stand at three in his last two.

His recent form is marked improvement on that which he displayed at the start of the season. After signing a permanent deal at White Hart Lane, Adebayor struggled to break in to the team, and he then drew the ire of the Spurs fans by delaying his return from the African Nations Cup even though he was Villas-Boas' only fit striker.

Villas-Boas admitted he was struggling to "unlock" the former Arsenal frontman's potential two months ago but, after watching him salvage two draws within the space of four days, he is upbeat about the 29-year-old's progress.

"Adebayor has got back in the goals in our recent games and he has shown how influential he can be," the Tottenham manager said.

"He's a player who is really enjoying his football; he is driven by his last goals and last performance and he is doing extremely well.

"Finding the back of the net allows him to go into the game with more confidence and I always think it's self-belief from the player, rather than anything else, that helps them improve.

"His link-up play has improved tremendously. He's been much more involved in the build of play and assisted and created so much, allowing others to flourish. He has helped Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale improve their game."

Spurs will be more reliant than ever on Adebayor tomorrow as star trio Bale, Lennon and Jermain Defoe are all out through injury.

Their absence, and the strength of Basle's home record, means Spurs are big underdogs to make their first European semi-final since 1984, when they won the UEFA Cup.

Basle are unbeaten at St Jakob Park since August. They have won their last four home games in the Europa League without conceding and Manchester United and Bayern Munich are two of the many sides who have fallen to defeat on the banks of the Rhine.

Yet the idea of reaching the last four of a major competition, and Spurs' superb away form left Villas-Boas in an upbeat mood as he addressed the media in north-west Switzerland tonight.

"Football is a surprise," said Villas-Boas, who is chasing a Europa League title for the second time in three seasons.

"What we have to do is get focused tomorrow to win the game, play with ambition to reach a prestigious semi-final after so many years for Tottenham.

"That should be motivation to drive us through.

"Our home form has dipped a little bit but our away form in the Premier League has been excellent and I'm sure it will serve as an inspiration for us.

"Normally we feel very comfortable away from home."

Comfort is something Villas-Boas' squad may find hard to find at St Jakob Park, and not just because of Basle's home record.

As they showed in north London last week, fans of the Swiss club are among the most raucous in Europe. Flares, booming drums, and huge banners are expected to greet the players at the stadium, but Spurs captain Michael Dawson is just focusing on earning a surprise win which he thinks could lift the team's domestic form, which has suffered of late, allowing Arsenal to gain the initiative in the battle for Champions League qualification.

"If we could win the Europa League it would be fantastic," Dawson said.

"If we could get to the semi-finals it would be a great achievement and it will stand us in good stead to finish in the top four."


Price boost on Adebayor to score first at 7/1


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