Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal fans and players alike not to target Emmanuel Adebayor when the controversial former Gunners striker returns to the Emirates Stadium today (5.30)..
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is confident the £25million summer signing has learnt the lessons of past mistakes and will keep the focus purely on the football against his old club.
Adebayor was handed a three-match ban for raking his studs down the face of Arsenal forward Robin van Persie following an ill-advised goal celebration — an action which resulted in a suspended two-game sanction and a £25,000 fine from the Football Association — when he raced the full length of the field to slide right in front of the Gunners’ supporters during the clash at Eastlands back in September.
The Arsenal boss said: “I am stubborn, but not stupid — sometimes in the heat of the moment you can do things that are not right. It is not only Adebayor, but also Patrick Vieira and Kolo Toure — we will welcome them all back. We have always had the same line of conduct — to respect what they have done for us and we want our fans to respect that as well and encourage our team.
“No matter what happened in the first game, it is important that we have a positive attitude and encourage our players. I believe more than ever we will need the crowd to be behind us. I expect everybody to behave well.”
Arsenal's hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League title race were thrown away during a ridiculous final 10 minutes at Wigan on Sunday, where they somehow allowed a 2-0 lead to slip as the home side fought back to win.
“Our pride is to fight until the end and this season we have shown a lot of fighting spirit, even if we had two disappointing results,” said Wenger. “It is important that we keep fighting, because you never know — and also we are as well under threat from the people chasing from behind. Nothing is secure.”