By James Cunliffe
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Brad Friedel believes Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe ranks alongside some of England’s best ever finishers after he bagged his third goal in two games to help see the Londoners past Panathinaikos last night and into the Europa League knockout stages.
The 30-year-old striker has been in a rich vein of goalscoring form this term after he was given the backing of new boss Andre Villas-Boas.
His 16 goals for club and country already this season has put to bed a frustrating campaign under former manager Harry Redknapp last year when he spent a lot of time on the bench.
Defoe wrapped up the European victory against the Greek side last night after fellow attackers Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey had scored either side of an equaliser for Toché.
His dinked finish ensured Spurs can look forward to a draw in the last 32 of the competition on December 20 and added a fourth straight victory for the in-form White Hart Lane side.
And Friedel, who made his first start in a month to skipper the side, drew comparisons between his team-mate and a Liverpool legend.
“He reminds me of Robbie Fowler in his finishing where he has a really short back-lift [when he shoots],” the 41-year-old keeper said of Defoe.
“When you have that sometimes keepers can’t get their feet set and on top of that he’s got some power behind his shot.
“He can also disguise it, do what he did and dink it over the keeper.
“He’s an exceptional finisher and he really comes on fire when he’s inside the box.”
The striker is not often mentioned in the same breath as some of the finest marksman the Premier League has seen, like Fowler and Blackburn and Newcastle goal machine Alan Shearer
Shearer, but Friedel says that’s not the view among his peers.
“He’s got a finish just as good as all of them, absolutely,” the goalkeeper explained, adding: “Players respect his finishing capabilities immensely.
“I’ve never heard a player not mention his name when you talk about great goalscorers.
“Players and goalkeepers, I can say, have an immense amount of respect for his finishing capabilities.”
Defoe partnered Adebayor against Panathinaikos and Friedel believes that being part of a front two is when the Englishman is at his best.
“Last year we played a different system but a lot of it this year is down to injuries where we couldn’t play at home with two up front.
“When we have played the two up front recently, Jermain really thrives on that and then he can save his energy for inside the box, where it really matters for us.
He added: “All strikers, when they start scoring goals on a run, then their confidence builds and builds and you feel like you’re going to score no matter where you are on the pitch. He’s definitely in that vein of form at the moment.”