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Old 24th January 2008, 04:09   #1
Paul Brooks

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Default Emmanuel Adebayor left in sorry state as he takes blame for Nicklas Bendtner clash

From The Times
January 24, 2008
Emmanuel Adebayor left in sorry state as he takes blame for Nicklas Bendtner clash

Matt Hughes

Emmanuel Adebayor took the unusual step yesterday of issuing a public apology for striking Nicklas Bendtner during Arsenal’s Carling Cup defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, but it may take more than a few well-intentioned words to repair the squad’s damaged morale and sense of unity. There are sure to be further repercussions as the FA has requested video footage of the second-half clash after Howard Webb, the referee, indicated in his report that he did not see the incident, in which Adebayor appeared to head-butt his team-mate.

The FA has the power to impose a three-match ban on Adebayor for violent conduct if there is sufficient evidence of him attacking Bendtner, but, with the available footage seemingly inconclusive, it is more likely to issue the lesser charge against Arsenal of failing to control their players.

On the advice of his employers, Adebayor accepted his culpability for Tuesday’s incident in the hope that the matter will be quickly forgotten, but it may not be that straightforward. The Togo striker has not seen Bendtner since he was physically prevented from following him down the tunnel at White Hart Lane — Adebayor left the stadium on his own after being taken to a separate room for drugs-testing and Arsenal’s players were given yesterday off — and it remains to be seen how they get on when they return to training today.

While it is unclear whether Bendtner said anything to provoke Adebayor, the strength of his reaction suggests that ill-feeling between the pair has been building for some time. The Denmark striker is reported to have upset many of his colleagues with his attitude on the training pitch, with Thierry Henry, the former captain, having reservations about his perceived arrogance before he joined Birmingham City on loan last season, and he has been involved in several disputes while on international duty.

On this occasion, however, Bendtner appears to have been the victim, with Adebayor accepting responsibility. “I am sorry for the disagreement with Nicklas,” Adebayor said. “We’re both passionate about this club and sometimes that can be projected in the wrong way. It was a mistake. We’re a strong unit and what happened against Spurs will strengthen our desire and determination to compete for other targets. We should have been more calm during the game.”

Arsenal’s on-field implosion highlights the issue of their frequent inability to accept defeat with good grace — a regular criticism of Arsène Wenger’s side. Although their disciplinary record has improved dramatically in recent years, Arsenal’s involvement in last year’s Carling Cup final with Chelsea also ended in controversy, with Kolo Touré and Adebayor sent off after their involvement in a mass brawl and the clubs found guilty of failing to control their players.

Wenger may have found Tuesday’s defeat even harder to swallow after he was almost sprayed by champagne by Tottenham players as he prepared to be interviewed on TV. The three players were understood to be targeting Gustavo Poyet, but Spurs’ assistant first-team coach had finished his interview. Damien Comolli, the Tottenham sporting director, issued an apology to Wenger in the wake of the incident.

William Gallas admitted that many of his younger team-mates struggled with accepting defeat. “All the players are very sad and disappointed, but Tottenham were better than us and we have to accept that,” the France defender said.

The fallout from the youngsters’ display continued last night with reports that Barclays Premier League clubs were contacted yesterday about the possibility of taking Theo Walcott, the 18-year-old forward, on loan.
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