London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds no grudges against his former player Emmanuel Adebayor and expects the home fans to do the same when the striker returns to the Emirates Stadium with Manchester City on Saturday.
Adebayor marked his first game against Arsenal since leaving the club by scoring in a 4-2 Premier League win in September. He then ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the angry visiting fans before later stamping on Robin van Persie.
“We want to keep our line of conduct. No matter what happened in the first game, it’s important we have a positive attitude and encourage our players,” Wenger told reporters on Friday.
Asked whether he forgave the 26-year-old, the Frenchman added: “Of course. I am stubborn but not stupid. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you can do things that are not right.”
“I believe Arsenal have done extremely well for Adebayor so you don’t expect that.”
Adebayor added: “I am calm about the game and do not desire any controversy with the Gunners supporters. I always try to be respectful on the pitch.
“I was very professional during my stay at Arsenal and nobody could doubt that,” he told The Sun newspaper.
Arsenal fans will also witness the return of former club captain Patrick Vieira and defender Kolo Toure for the clash against Roberto Mancini’s Champions League-chasing side.
Adebayor and Toure, whose careers were nurtured by Wenger, joined City at the end of last season while Vieira arrived in January having left the London club in 2005 to join Juventus and then Inter Milan after a trophy-laden spell with Arsenal.
“I respect hugely what he (Vieira) has done. He was a massive success with Arsenal, is a legend here and will always remain so,” Wenger said.
The Arsenal manager’s hopes of more league and cup glory days are over for another season after a stuttering end to the campaign has all but ended their title hopes.
However, he will want to see a reaction to last Sunday’s surprise 3-2 defeat at Wigan Athletic when his team threw away a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes.
“More than ever we will need the crowd to be behind us tomorrow and let’s focus on that. I expect everybody to behave well,” said Wenger.
Third-placed Arsenal trail leaders Chelsea by six points with three games to play. City trail Tottenham Hotspur, who occupy the final Champions League place, by two points with four matches left including a May 5 showdown between the sides.