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Adebayor will thrive after winning over fans: Wenger

SoccerNews in English Premier League, La Liga 4 Aug 2008

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Arsene Wenger believes Emmanuel Adebayor will be more dangerous than ever after the Arsenal striker demonstrated his commitment to the Gunners with a match-winning performance against Real Madrid.

Adebayor's second-half penalty sealed a 1-0 victory over the Spanish champions in the Emirates Cup on Sunday and provided the perfect response to the Arsenal fans who had jeered him 24 hours earlier.

The supporters who turned on Adebayor before his side's match against Juventus were angry that he left it until last week when he was handed a new contract which will double his pay, to quash speculation he wanted to leave.

Adebayor could have gone into his shell and sulked after such a public snub but he proved to Wenger and his critics that he has the right character to cope with adversity.

The Togo international departed to warm applause when he was substituted and Wenger expects him to go into the new campaign with a renewed spring in his step.

“I feel Adebayor felt people questioned his commitment a little bit and the best way to give an answer is always on the pitch,” Wenger said.

“You play well and show you are ready to fight for your shirt and your team. He does that. He is a man with character.

“You know how it is. If you score goals people forget quickly their frustration. You have to show it with performances in this job.”

Adebayor's winner, which came in the 49th minute after Michel Salgado barged over Robin van Persie in the penalty area, was just reward for an enterprising display from the hosts.

They dominated from the start, with Theo Walcott a constant menace on the right wing.

Wenger is confident the teenage winger will finally deliver on the promise that persuaded Sven Goran Eriksson to take him to the 2006 World Cup.

“I hope Theo will be a big part of the squad this season,” Wenger said. He is ahead of where he was at this period last season and he is still 19.

“I have confidence in him of course but it is down to performances. His first touch his much better and he moves the ball quicker. His peneration and final ball is better.”

With Walcott impressing and 16-year-old winger Jack Wilshere turning in a lively cameo, Wenger took the opportunity to chide the critics who claim he never gives homegrown players a chance.

“The quality is there. I don't look too much at his age, just what he is doing on the pitch and at the moment the quality is good,” Wenger said. “Perhaps people will stop saying I don't produce English players now.”

Wenger's emerging English talents won't stop him trying to add one more midfielder before the transfer window shuts, although he insisted he isn't close to signing either Aston Villa's Gareth Barry or Liverpool's Xabi Alonso.

“I like Gareth Barry and I like two or three other players. But it is better I don't speak about names,” Wenger said. “I don't know if Barry will leave Aston Villa. At the moment I am not on this case.

“If we sign a player we will tell you but we are not close at the moment.”

Real manager Bernd Schuster may be on the look-out for a new midfielder as well after Wesley Sneijder suffered knee ligament damage following a clumsy challenge by Abou Diaby.

Schuster fears Sneijder will be out for several weeks and he hinted he was unhappy with the aggression of Arsenal's players.

“We are all really shocked about the injury. It's very difficult. He has a lot of pain. They have to do some tests but it doesn't look good,” he said.

“On a day like this it was the last thing we wanted. We can lose the game but not like that, with that toughness. These games are not really friendly. There is a lot of prestuge at stake.

“We know the intensity of English teams. This kind of play can happen. We have to wait for the full report from the doctor but I can tell you it's not good. We will lose him for a little bit.”

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