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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Wenger backs Adebayor to find favour

Arsene Wenger backed Emmanuel Adebayor to soon be a firm favourite again with all Arsenal fans having agreed to stay with the Gunners.

The Togo international received something of a mixed reception when his name was announced to the crowd at the start of the Emirates Cup clash against Juventus, which ended 1-0 to the Serie A outfit.

The 24-year-old has been the subject of fevered transfer speculation all summer, with reports of a big-money move to both AC Milan and Barcelona.

However, last season's 30-goal frontman yesterday dismissed the rumour mill and pledged he was ready to sign a new one-year contract extension, declaring himself happy within the Arsenal 'family'.

It may take a bit more than that, though, to win over some Gunners' fans, who were clearly less than impressed by the whole protracted saga.

Wenger, though, can understand their frustrations.

He said: 'I feel our fans are behind him, I feel that was more disappointed love.

'To me, face to face, he always told me he wants to stay at the club, and it finished like that, so I believe what he told me.'

The Arsenal manager said: 'He is not going anywhere - even if you come with a 747 plane full of money.'

Wenger had opted for a youthful starting XI, which included summer signing Aaron Ramsey, the Wales Under-21 midfielder, Mexican starlet Carlos Vela and 16-year-old Jack Wilshere, sporting the number 55, while Swiss defender Philippe Senderos stood in as captain.

Despite holding their own for most of the first half, Juventus took the lead through David Trezeguet, who looked offside when he stabbed home following a low free-kick into the box.

Arsenal sent on the likes of club captain William Gallas, Theo Walcott and Adebayor after the break, as well as a home debut for Samri Nasri, the £12million summer signing from Marseille.

However, there was no comeback and the Gunners will now regroup ahead of tomorrow's clash with Real Madrid, when a stronger team is expected.

'We had a very young side, especially in the first half, and played well,' said Wenger.

'We were unlucky to concede the goal and maybe lacked a bit of experience to score, as well as some physical match sharpness.

'There were some heavy legs, but it will get better over the next two weeks.'

Wenger admits he feels Arsenal need one more experienced midfielder, but insisted the club had not made a bid for Aston Villa's unsettled England international Gareth Barry.

He said: 'We are not close to signing anybody and I will focus on the players I have.

'If we can find someone, the we will do it. If not, I am happy as well.'

However, the Gunners boss maintains the future of the club is in good hands, with teenager Wilshere again impressing.

'Do not form an impression on his small size because he is not phased by the physical challenges,' said the Arsenal manager.

'He really looks mature on the pitch, but he is 16 and we have to respect his development.

'However, do not reproach me now about not playing English players.'


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