Adebayor madness mars Man City win
Emmanuel Adebayor - in an act of contrition that came too late to spare him the attention of the Football Association - tugged at the heartstrings amid the pandemonium at Eastlands.
He single-handedly slapped lurid headlines on top of a text that should have only told the story of Manchester City's most impressive mission statement since manager Mark Hughes embarked on the Abu Dhabi-backed refit of his squad.
Adebayor's senseless, provocative 90-yard dash to incite Arsenal's supporters after his goal against his former club provided an unsavoury sub-plot to a 4-2 win that demonstrated Manchester City's revolution is built on substance as well as finance.
He later apologised publicly for an ill-judged burst of pace and stamina that took him from one elated end of Eastlands to hostile territory at the other, explaining: "People who love, people who know me, know how I behave."
Bit lame. And the problem for Adebayor is that the people who do not love him also know how he behaves - and the loveless were easy to track down after he marred a match that crackled from first to last.
Arsenal's supporters actually did not love Adebayor in the dying days of his career at the Emirates and his former team-mate Robin van Persie is no longer in the fan club either after accusing him of "a real lack of class" after having his faced raked by his old mate.
Adebayor's face adorned the walls around Eastlands in readiness for this eagerly-awaited encounter - but they took on the appearance of wanted posters as Arsenal's fans drifted away back to London and the team coach followed them home.
The Gunners' following departed infuriated by the way they were baited by Adebayor, the team - in the battered shape of Van Persie - were left literally scarred by a stray boot that was, at the very best, questionable.
Van Persie was as unerringly on target with his savage public attack on Adebayor as he invariably is in front of goal. He left no room for doubt that he felt this was a deliberate act.
How sad the focus should be on the dark side of a game that Adebayor illuminated with his brilliance before casting a cloud over what might be a seminal day for City with his antics.
Manchester City deserved to claim all the attention and plaudits without distraction after providing enthralling evidence they may challenge the top four this season. It is Adebayor's fault they will not get it.
Emotion is at the heart of the game - and let's be honest human nature will scream at a player to give a bit back to supporters who taunt him mercilessly - but so is common sense and it was conspicuous by its absence in this incident.
And Adebayor's emotions were clearly, and understandably, on overload when he shrugged off his Manchester City team-mates in preference to demonstrating his delight in front of Arsenal fans.
Adebayor's folly - he even spent the moments before kick-off warming up in the Arsenal half - was underscored by the chaos that ensued. The situation briefly threatened to boil over and it was only the prompt and efficient intervention of Eastlands' stewards and police that restored a semblance of order.
Manchester City also managed the situation admirably as boss Hughes followed up Adebayor's regret with an apology - but the damage was done and it might be best if the striker feels his hamstring in the warm-up before the return at the Emirates.
Hughes suggested in his match notes that Adebayor and Kolo Toure, in sharp contrast warmly received by Arsenal's fans, "are not the type of characters who will see today as a chance to make a point."
Adebayor certainly had a strange way of not making his point - but it would also do City a grave disservice to let this sideshow disguise what they served up in front of an esctatic Eastlands.
Manchester City's supporters, as well as the cynics, had been waiting for them to be presented with a serious test to use as a barometer of their pretensions to challenge the established order at the Premier League summit
The meeting with Arsenal, as well as the Manchester derby at Old Trafford next Sunday, were regarded as accurate measures so Hughes was right to be a satisfied manager when attention finally switched back to the football.
Adebayor was the focal point of a City attack that showed verve and variety in abundance in the latter stages of the second half, even without the injured Carlos Tevez and Robinho and the rehabilitating Roque Santa Cruz.
He showed everything that is good about his game with one weaving, wandering run that took out most of the Arsenal defence before serving up a chance Shaun Wright-Phillips somehow missed.
Craig Bellamy was tireless and deserved his goal and Wright-Phillips also got in on the act as City confirmed life will not be dull with such an array of attacking riches at their disposal this season.
Hughes might argue that an even more promising sign was how City hung in as Arsenal dominated the early sparring until Manuel Almunia's own goal put them ahead. It was a trick they repeated when Arsenal dominated the first 20 minutes after the break, a spell of supremacy that brought Van Persie's equaliser.
It was at this point, we all agreed, that "The Old City" would have crumbled to defeat. Not a bit of it - they rode their luck but the way they took Arsenal out with three goals in a devastasting 10-minute spell was impressively ruthless.
Shay Given and Gareth Barry may not be headline-grabbing signings, but their maturity, experience and simple competence make them as valuable as any other new arrivals. Model professionals Hughes can count on in more troubled times.
For Arsenal, that collapse and their failure to take advantage when they were on top must be causes for concern for Arsene Wenger. He drew comparisons with the recent defeat at Manchester United - but this was different and nowhere near as convincing.
There were likenesses, but not in a good way. Arsenal have a nasty habit of conceding goals when they are in charge of football matches. It happened at Manchester United and again here.
Arsenal also showed that the defensive vulnerability Wenger hoped he had eradicated with the introduction of Thomas Vermaelen still lurks waiting to do damage. He was not particularly culpable, but Arsenal's midfield and defence went missing in action in the key phase when City won the game.
The great sadness for City was that on a day when Adebayor's footballing brilliance and the quality of his colleagues should have claimed our undivided attention, his foolishness ensured some of the gloss was stripped away.
So let's at least end with the very positive notes City can rightly dwell on. If we wanted a sign that they not simply all show, this was the biggest they have delivered so far in a flawless start to the new season.
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