AVB backs Adebayor for goals
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is confident he can get the best out of Emmanuel Adebayor as he prepares to start the striker against Lyon.
Despite his history with Arsenal, Adebayor won the affection of Spurs fans last year, topping the club's scoring charts with a return of 18 goals in 37 matches while on loan from Manchester City.
However, since the 28-year-old signed a permanent deal at White Hart Lane last summer, he has been unable to find the net as regularly.
Adebayor has scored three goals in 24 games so far this term, and his performances have lacked the energy and passion he showed last season, leading some supporters to question the striker's commitment to the cause.
Villas-Boas shirked at that claim on Wednesday evening and tipped the former Real Madrid hitman to find his scoring boots soon - starting with Thursday night's Europa League last-32 second leg at Lyon.
"He can still be the player we saw last season," said Villas-Boas, who has to start Adebayor as Jermain Defoe is out with an ankle injury.
"We're trying to unlock the best out of the player. Last year shows as an example for what we're trying to get out of him.
"Strikers live off goals and we're doing everything we can to try and unlock his full potential."
Supporters of Arsenal and Manchester City have accused Adebayor in the past of giving up shortly after strong starts at their respective clubs.
With four points separating Spurs and Arsenal in the hunt for Champions League qualification, and a place in the last 16 of the Europa League up for grabs on Thursday, Villas-Boas needs his striker back in form quick and he thinks the player will not be affected by the criticism that has come his way in recent weeks.
"I'm not sure if it bothers him," the 35-year-old said.
"Players build their own motivations. Perceptions and media opinions can influence the public in general, but I think the player strives on his own motivation in the end.
"I think (he's working as hard).
"The injuries he had and the African Nations Cup took him out for lots of games and Defoe's form this year had been magnificent."
Tottenham's impressive recent form - they have not lost in the Barclays Premier League since December 9 - comes in complete contrast to the form of their bitter north London rivals.
Arsenal's long wait for a trophy now looks set to stretch to eight years following their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich last night.
Villas-Boas had a warning for any Spurs fans revelling in their rivals' disappointment, however.
"It doesn't help (Spurs) because Arsenal will put even more focus on their Premier League run and getting results right," the former Porto boss said.
"In an ideal world to have Arsenal continue in that competition and getting tired playing in the Champions League would be better for us in terms of reaching our objective."
That objective is to get Spurs back in to the Champions League, of course.
That does not mean the north London club will shy away in their attempts to win the Europa League, however. Villas-Boas lifted the trophy in 2011 with Porto before embarking on an ill-fated stint at Chelsea which lasted 256 days.
He now wants to win the trophy again to help ease the pain of his short-lived reign at Stamford Bridge.
"After the disappointments I went through last year it would be great to grab the chance of a European trophy," he said.
"We won the Europa League with Porto. Both are top clubs."
Gareth Bale's two stunning free-kicks in last week's 2-1 win against Ligue 1's second-placed side mean a 0-0 draw tomorrow at the Stade de Gerland will see Spurs through to the last 16, where they are likely to meet Inter Milan.
The Spurs boss confirmed that, as was the case in the first leg, Brad Friedel will start in goal ahead of former Lyon captain Hugo Lloris.
"We've decided to keep this rotation policy," Villas-Boas said.