In Emmanuel Adebayor’s first two full seasons at Arsenal he has caused about as much controversy as anything else. Opinion is divided over his qualities as a player and personality. In light of criticism of his play I thought I’d take a look at his statistics in comparison with the sacred Thierry Henry after his first two seasons at the club:
Henry (All competitions):
- 1999-00 – Apps: 48, Goals: 26, Assists: 9
- 2000-01 – Apps: 53, Goals: 22, Assists: 3
Henry scored 0.54 goals per game in 1999-00, and 0.42 per game the following season. These were only his first two seasons at the club, and the rate of roughly a goal every other game is impressive for a player reconverting to the strikers role.
In comparison Adebayor, joined Arsenal in January 2006, but he only played 13 games so these stats count from his first full season at the club in 2006-07.
- 2006-07 – Apps: 44, Goals: 12, Assists: 4
- 2007-08 – Apps: 54, Goals: 30, Assists: 5
Adebayor scored 0.27 goals per game in his first season, playing approximately the same number of games as Thierry. The team was performing worse in the league at the time, eventually finishing fourth, compared to second place in 1999-00. In his second season Adebayor became a 30-goal striker, taking 0.56 goals per game, the video below shows all 30.
We can see from the stats that Adebayor, playing as second striker last season was not as effective as Henry in his first full season. Emmanuel played with Henry in 2006-07, and scored just 12 in comparison with Henry’s 26 in 1999-2000. 2007-08 has seen a marked different in the goalscoring. His 0.56 goals per game ratio is better than either of Henry’s first two seasons, although only marginally.
There are differences in the approach for 2007-08, the most marked change being Adebayor playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation, and has done better in terms of goals and assists. This is part of what drove the club to a title challenge during the season.
Remember that Adebayor wasn’t as experienced as Henry when he joined the club, having only played for three seasons in the first team at AS Monaco. Whereas Henry had already spent some years in Italy at Juventus, and played for the French national team, albeit on the left wing, before joining Arsenal in 1999.
The performance from 07-08 looks promising on Adebayor’s part, although it is unlikely he can ever scale the heights which Theirry Henry managed.
Statistics don’t tell the whole story, the league has changed drastically in the seven years between these seasons, and generally has become more defensive in tactical outlook. Arsenal’s formation is also different, and having a single striker may increase the opportunities for that player’s goal-scoring.
Henry is ultimately the best player Arsenal ever had, but the data shows that Adebayor’s contribution is not unimpressive. Although not as fast as Henry, or as technically gifted, he has dogged determinism, and passes the ball well.
They are different players, and so ultimately comparison is difficult. What is clear is that Adebayor has potential, it remains to be seen if he can really use this and develop into a top quality striker. If Adebayor maintains a high workrate then Arsene is right to believe in him.
Update: Arsenal Column has an excellent piece with stats on Adebayor as he departs to Man City in the summer of 2009.