Crouch: Give me a Spurs strike partner for the derby

PETER Crouch believes he would far more prolific if he was given a strike partner on a regular basis, rather than being asked to play up front by himself.

The 29-year-old has spent much of the season as a lone striker, with Rafael Van der Vaart behind him, and the England forward failed to score in his first 12 league games.

However, a switch to 4-4-2 against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday saw Crouch finally break his duck domestically, while his fellow frontman Roman Pavlyuchenko was also on target in the 4-2 win at White Hart Lane.

“I enjoyed it. Obviously I’ve been playing with Rafa quite a bit. I think a lot of the time when you’re playing one up and Rafa just off me it’s quite hard,” said Crouch.

“You’re up against two centre-halves and invariably a lot of the space is opening up for other people, because you’re taking defenders away and trying to hold up play and bring others in. I think with another striker up there it certainly makes my job a lot easier.”

Crouch’s case is strengthened by the fact that four of his six goals this season have come in a 4-4-2 formation, including his hat-trick in the 4-0 home win over Young Boys in August.

Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenko is Spurs’ joint top scorer with eight goals, having scored in three of his last four games, while Jermain Defoe is also close to his first-team return.

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Ever the pragmatist, Harry Redknapp may be minded to stick with the winning formula that conquered Blackburn on Saturday, and play with two strikers in the coming weeks.

However, the issue is complicated by Van der Vaart’s goalscoring record. Five of the Dutchman’s seven goals have come in an advanced role behind a single striker - largely thanks to knock-downs from Crouch.

The debate over how to get the best out of Tottenham’s attacking talent will be particularly important this weekend as Spurs travel to the Emirates for the north London derby.

“In previous years Arsenal have always been above us - it’s been a derby and that’s been it - but I think league position could come into it now,” said Crouch. “We’re a lot closer to them than we have been for a long time, and against the best we seem to raise our game, and hopefully that will be the case again.

“They’ve lost a couple of home games but, being a derby, I think they’ll all raise their game as well. We know that they’re a great side but I believe that on our day we can beat anyone.

“If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. Of course you’ll be there or thereabouts if you beat everyone else apart from the top four, but I think if you really want to have a proper impact on the league then you have to go to places like Arsenal and pick up points. There’s enough talent in our dressing room to do that.”