"I cannot tell you I'm afraid of them"
Ahead of Wednesday evening's UEFA Champions League semi-final, first leg clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor discussed tactics with ESPNsoccernet's Alison Bender.
While the Togo international is quick to acknowledge United's attacking threat Adebayor has been particularly impressed with defensive partners Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and has revealed that he voted for the pair in the recent PFA Player of the Year awards.
Adebayor also discusses his ambition to win the Champions League and as well as his determination to remain with Arsenal despite flattering links with AC Milan.
Question: The Champions League semi-finals; It's a huge game against Manchester United, a team you know so well. What do you think is the key to beating them right now?
Adebayor: To play our own football, with the ball on the ground. As soon as you confiscate the ball from Manchester United they have a problem because they want to take control of the game; if they are in possession then you are dead, so we have to take control of the ball.
Players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Giggs if they don't have the ball they don't have a chance to make the difference, but as soon as they have control of the game you can easily [concede] four, five, six even seven [goals]. • For more on Adebayor's hopes ahead of the Man Utd clash, watch the full interview
Q: You mentioned some of the big players there, does it concern you that you have worries at right-back going to Old Trafford with players like Rooney and Ronaldo to compete against?
A: Not at all, no. When we won against them 2-1 in the Premier League Rooney was there, Ronaldo was there, Giggs was there, so we know each other quite well. It is going to be an interesting game for the fans, they will enjoy it. [But] I cannot tell you I am afraid of them. We know it's a semifinal - first-leg and second-leg - two games; the best team will win and I hope the best team will be us.
Q: Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic make a fantastic centre-back partnership. How do you get past players like that?
A: Concentration. To be one of the best players in the world you have to play against tough defenders. They have said playing against me is not easy, and I can confirm playing against them is not easy. It's going to be like a rock going into another rock. I don't know whether Arsenal or Manchester will win, but I hope it is going to be Arsenal, because we really want to achieve this season, we really want to win the Champions League.
Q: Having finished as a runner-up in the Champions League final in 2004 with Monaco and having missed the final in 2006 with Arsenal because you were cup-tied, how much does it mean to get to the final and win it?
A: It's a special trophy because since I started my career my professional career I've not had a chance to win anything. I could have won the Carling Cup two years ago, but I lost it against Chelsea. I could have won the Champions League final against FC Porto with Monaco, but I lost it 3-0. Now I've only got one thing to go for in 2009: the Champions league.
I know it is going to be very tough because we have to beat Man United and then maybe face Chelsea or Barcelona. I will do everything it takes to go to the final, but at the moment we have a semi-final to think about, our focus will have to be on Manchester, not thinking about who we might play in the final.
Q: Which three players did you vote for in the PFA Player of the Year awards?
A: I voted for Vidic, I think he's had a great season. I voted for Gerrard, throughout the season he has been the key man for Liverpool. And I voted for Rio Ferdinand as well. I could have gone for Van der Sar, but for three four weeks he has not been his best.
Q: Two of those players, Vidic and Ferdinand, you have to play in the Manchester United game. If you can get the better of them and beat them how much will that mean to you considering they are your top players?
A: It will mean a lot. They are the holders of the Champions League so if we can take them out of this competition we would be very pleased. As soon as you win the Champions League you become one of the greatest clubs in the world, and they are the team that won it last season. This season they are still top in Premier League and have a chance to win the Champions League again, so if I can take them out… I will be very pleased.
Q: Last summer there was a lot of transfer speculation surrounding you and recently Arsene Wenger admitted that perhaps it affected the team at the beginning of the season. Is there any truth to that?
A: Maybe, I cannot say he is wrong. I don't know. You have to ask some players, they will be the best people to answer that. It affected me. I did everything in my power to stay at this club, but people have to understand something: when big people want you it makes a difference, you have to think about it twice before you decide.
If you work in a shop where you have every month ten thousand and people from another shop come for you offer you twenty thousand or a hundred thousand for that same job there is a big difference. People just judge me because they think I must be playing for money. But I can say I am very happy staying at Arsenal, I don't have any regrets. It is true that it affected me at the beginning of the season but now I am [playing] quite well. I want to play for this club and that is it.
Q: The summer transfer window is around the corner. One of the biggest rumours at the moment is that perhaps you'd move to AC Milan. Can you see yourself as a Gunner next season?
A: Of course, yes. I have a four year contract - there is no reason for me not being a Gunner next season. I am happy playing for this club and, to be honest, I am happy that AC Milan, one of the legendary clubs in the world, are looking at me. That is something special.
It is like a boy, handsome or not, if they tell you Beyonce is looking for you, you must be happy, that is for sure. For me, they told me Milan is looking for me: I am quite happy with that. But the most important thing is playing for Arsenal. I am very happy here so there is no reason for me moving.