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Warrior Adebayor ready to face Arsenal, Tottenham United look to bounce back in FA Cup

LONDON, Jan 3, (Agencies): Emmanuel Adebayor, who was carried off on a stretcher during Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 win at Manchester United on New Year’s Day, is fit and will start against his former club Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. That was not the only good news for Spurs on the injury front as Jermain Defoe, Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby were all back in training on Friday after being sidelined with various ailments. “How important will Adebayor be tomorrow? It’s huge,” said Tottenham’s new manager Tim Sherwood, who has revitalised the side since taking over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas last month. “I think if Arsene Wenger saw him limping off at Old Trafford, I’m sure there were a lot of pleased Arsenal fans and management and players. “But, unfortunately, he’s going to be walking out against them tomorrow. “It didn’t look great did it when he came off on that stretcher but he is a warrior. There is no holding him back at the moment.”

The fact Adebayor will play, having recovered from “various cramps”, is a big boost for Spurs after the 29-year-old Togolese has scored four goals in the five matches he has played since his return. Last season at Arsenal he twice to give Spurs the lead and was then sent off seven minutes later as the Gunners exploited his absence to end up 5-2 winners in a league match. Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered some grudging praise for the Gunners’ fiercest rivals, who they meet in the Cup for the first time since beating them 2-1 in the semi-finals in 2001. “They won at Manchester United and they played very well, but Man United have been a bit more vulnerable at home this season and they took full advantage of that playing with good pace going forward,” he said in his pre-match news conference.
He added he had noticed a more attacking intent to Spurs’ game since Sherwood took control.

“They are more adventurous. With (Roberto) Soldado and Adebayor, they have found a balance — at the moment that suits the team well. They always looked dangerous at Man United and that’s certainly the pair we will have to keep quiet.” With Adebayor set to play against his old club, Wenger is very concerned about the threat from the striker he signed from Monaco in 2006 who didn’t play at all under Villas Boas this season. “What is amazing for him is how fit he was when he came back — how quickly he adapted to top-level competition again,” he said. “He’s a player with special talent, I’m in a good position to know.”

Arsenal are coping with a long injury list with strikers Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner set to miss the game along with midfielder Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and defender Kieran Gibbs (calf) while playmaker Mezut Ozil is battling for match fitness. Form often counts for nothing in cup derbies, but both sides enter the match in good spirits with Arsenal top of the Premier League table and Spurs having taken 10 points from a possible 12 over the Christmas holiday period. Arsenal have lost only once at home to Spurs in any match since 1993 and will be looking to follow up their 1-0 league win in September, which came after successive 5-2 home league wins over Spurs.

Both managers kept their cards close to their chests regarding players they might want to sign during the transfer window with Wenger saying they had not considered signing former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov from Fulham, despite widespread media speculation. United’s loss to Spurs on Wednesday was their sixth of the Premier League campaign and left them 11 points off the pace, but they have shown impressive form in the cup competitions this season. David Moyes’s side have reached the Champions League last 16 and the semi-finals of the League Cup, and the FA Cup, which United last won in 2004, represents another means of salvaging their season.

Centre-back Jonny Evans says that the players are only slowly coming to terms with the impact of former manager Alex Ferguson’s retirement in May. “As a player I probably didn’t realise the magnitude of it until I stepped back and looked at it from the outside,” said Evans. “Some of the results have not gone as planned, but to be fair to the manager and coaching staff, they have never been down in the dumps. “They have always tried to improve us and I definitely think they are improving us in certain aspects of the game where maybe we were lacking.”

The third-round draw yielded few opportunities for genuine upsets, but Liverpool, Aston Villa and Sunderland all face third-tier opposition in the shape of, respectively, Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United and Carlisle United. Chelsea, meanwhile, visit Derby County, who recently won seven games in a row in the second-tier Championship under former England manager Steve McClaren, while Manchester City travel to Blackburn Rovers. The biggest mismatch sees non-league Macclesfield Town host Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, who sit 63 places above them in the English league system, while Bolton Wanderers play Blackpool in a repeat of the 1953 final.

Saturday (18:00 local unless otherwise stated): Aston Villa vs Sheffield United, Barnsley vs Coventry City, Bolton Wanderers vs Blackpool, Bournemouth vs Burton Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion vs Reading, Bristol City vs Watford, Charlton Athletic vs Oxford United, Doncaster Rovers vs Stevenage, Everton vs Queens Park Rangers, Grimsby Town vs Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town vs Preston North End, Kidderminster Harriers vs Peterborough United, Macclesfield Town vs Sheff Wednesday, Middlesbrough vs Hull City, Newcastle United vs Cardiff City, Norwich City vs Fulham, Rochdale vs Leeds United, Southampton vs Burnley, Southend United vs Millwall, Stoke City vs Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion vs Crystal Palace, Wigan Athletic vs Milton Keynes Dons, Yeovil Town vs Leyton Orient
Sunday (18:00 local unless otherwise stated):
Liverpool vs Oldham Athletic, Port Vale vs Plymouth Argyle, Sunderland vs Carlisle United (17:00 local)

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