The two strikers are, at first glance, chalk and cheese – Adebayor is a powerful physical presence in the box with the pace and strength to terrorize opposing defences. Often found hanging off the shoulder of the last defender awaiting a ball to run on to.
Jermaine Defoe is small and slight and is much more of a ‘fox in the box’ – his stealth in his positioning means he often ends up finding the net through intelligence and his work-rate is exceptionally high.
Adebayor doesn’t quite have the same diligence – he can be prone to both sloppiness and laziness when he’s having an ‘off-day’ – something that could rarely be said for Defoe who, even when his form evades him, puts in a solid shift for the Spurs and often turns to provider.
Adebayor’s game is characterized by arrogance – he, much like Didier Drogba, considers himself enough of a threat that he believes he can beat the defender through sheer brilliance alone – and he often does.
He is also much less of a provider. His selfishness with the ball often sees chances spurned but, like any selfish striker, it pays off enough of the time that it can be justified and completely excusable.
Defoe’s intelligence means he can often see the bigger picture – every time he receives the ball, he’s evaluating the move in it’s entirety and he has the awareness and vision to pick out a pass if it’s on.
Neither players possess the technical quality of a Robin van Persie or a Dimitar Berbatov but that has never stopped them finding the net – they are assured and proficient finishers who, given half a chance, will punish the opposition.
Synonymously, neither of them are the traditional ‘target man’ – Adebayor undoubtedly is closer to being one than Defoe, due to his size and physicality but he’s still not an Andy Carroll type that you can thump a ball to and expect him to make something out of it.
Upon the signing of Adebayor, many reasonably suspected Andre Villas-Boas would select either or, rather than play them as an obvious partnership but perhaps these assumptions deserve investigation.
They could, conceivably, play together very well – I would suspect Adebayor would be utilized in a deeper role where he could squabble with defenders over the ball, leaving space for Defoe who is the more clinical and efficient finisher of the two.
Equally, Defoe’s intelligent positioning and sudden movement, once Adebayor drew defenders on to himself, Defoe would be left with ample space to capitalize on. They might, on first glance, appear to be an odd couple; but they could prove to be an effective strike partnership.
However, my feeling is that it would depend on Adebayor’s understanding of his role in the partnership and, subsequently, his ability to be slightly more selfless for his team. You never know, stranger things have happened.