By Richard Clarke

Emmanuel Adebayor has won the hearts of the Arsenal fans and is now an essential element of the team, according to Arsène Wenger.

The 21-year-old striker has scored in each of the last three games and has led the line expertly in the absence of Thierry Henry. His manager argues his adaptation to the English game is complete.

"I cannot rest him at the moment," said Wenger. "He has won the fans over because he fights hard. I think he has a good mixture between the English game and the French game. He challenges in the air, goes for every ball, likes physical contact and is good with his feet as well. That is why people have quickly loved him.

"He struggled a bit with his confidence when he first came because he had a very difficult experience in Monaco where he was a bit rejected and didn't play. I'd seen him a few times and I saw something interesting in him. I took a gamble because at the time I felt we needed somebody physical. That is difficult to find in Europe.

"Sometimes players have to adapt to the English game and, secondly, they have to adapt to the style of the team. It takes time. But he discovered something that was unusual for him and he is a quick learner.

"At the start he looked inhibited, especially at the Emirates. He is sensitive and sensed when people were on his back, that's why I used him more away from home at the start. But he has lost that complex and people who were on his back now love him."

However Wenger stopped short of suggesting the towering Togolese front man is comparable with the greatest modern Arsenal strikers - yet.

"He has potential," said the manager. "But people like Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp have played 500 games for the Club and he has played 20 so you have to compare that. At the moment what is important is that he enjoys to play. For me what is important is that he fights for the team and plays for the team. He is slowly showing great potential."

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Richard Clarke 24 Dec 2006