There has been a lot of talk recently that there are signs this Arsenal team is beginning, at long last, to show some improvement. We are not conceeding so often at the back, Denilson/Song/Nasri have 20 games experience under their belts, and with Eduardo/Arshavin/Walcott/Fabregas all just around the corner, there is going to be real competition for places in the team.
Well this weekend is about turning some of that potential into actual progress. With the intriguing Aston Villa / Chelsea game the early kick off, Arsenal will have the small advantage of knowing that result before playing Sunderland. Plus the good thing about the Villa / Chelsea game is that its hard to see how there can be a bad result for Arsenal - the top 4 cannot all win this weekend. And that means we can make some progress to shorten the gap, so long as we beat Sunderland. And beat them we must.
There has also been a lot of negative talk on other blogs about Adebayor this week. Some of the criticism directed at him is justified - it is not controversial to say that the player we have seen this season seems a shadow of what we saw last season. I have criticised him this season for not taking the knocks. But I think we have to be very careful about being too critical of Ade.
No striker scores every game, and even during periods last season when Ade didn't score, the "he's shit" brigade immediately found their voice. The events over the summer did not help matters - it was a PR disaster for Ade, and now, with his fat contract and retirement planning firmly in hand, people seem to expect that Ade will score every chance that comes his way and play terrific football in every game.
Well life is just not like that ladies and gentleman. Adebayor played most of last season in front of Cesc Fabregas, who had a blinding campaign, and with Hleb on one wing and Rosicky on the other for the first half, with an impressive Walcott coming through during the later stages.
This season Ade has been playing in front of more modest fare for most of it. Yes, he could do more to up his work-rate this season, yes, it does seem like he is not giving 100% in every game and that is not acceptable, but for me, if you a going to cast Adebayor into the pit of shiteness, then you need to be able to point at someone else who we could go and sign who will produce the goals.
Adebayor has scored 8 Premier League goals this season, which is not great, but thats the same as Torres and more than Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez. Adebayor is therefore not doing any worse than the other so-called £30m strikers in the league.
In these days when most Arsenal fans are determined to see the worst in everything, I think people have got to remind themselves that what Wenger has done with a £5m player who wasn't scoring goals at Monaco when we signed him is absolutely fantastic.
Adebayor is a top class player and on his day is almost unstoppable. If we can get him fired up before the end of the season, then he could make the difference for us. Maybe a bit more support from the fans wouldn't hurt?