Spurs can get a head with Crouch capture
VERY FEW players offer their clubs an entirely new tactical dimension, opening doors strategically and presenting a totally new kind of threat, but Peter Crouch can justifiably claim to bring all of this to Tottenham...
By Ben Pearce
VERY FEW players offer their clubs an entirely new tactical dimension, opening doors strategically and presenting a totally new kind of threat, but Peter Crouch can justifiably claim to bring all of this to Tottenham.
At 6ft 7ins, the lanky striker's aerial presence is hardly a secret, and that was an area that Spurs desperately needed to reinforce this summer.
Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate are dominant, physical presences at the back and - for better or worse - Heurelho Gomes can always be relied upon to charge out and knock his own player unconscious, as Vedran Corluka discovered up at Stoke last season.
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However, at the other end of the pitch Spurs were small and lightweight, with Luka Modric, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane all unlikely to score from headers.
In the last campaign, the Lilywhites scored a lower percentage of their goals from set pieces than any other Premier League side - 20 per cent, with the division's average at 33 per cent.
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Meanwhile, Crouch scored more headed goals for Portsmouth than other player in the top flight (seven), with his first coming against Spurs at Fratton Park last season.
Problem solved. Because even though the 28-year-old is always heavily marked at corners and free kicks, that simply takes the focus away from the likes of King and Woodgate.
"He's great on set plays in both boxes, which was a problem for us last year," said Harry Redknapp, no doubt remembering a 3-2 defeat at Bolton last season, when the Trotters scored from three high balls into the box. "We were a small team and I think he'll be a great asset in that respect.
"I think he's different, he holds the ball up," the manager added. "We saw against Celtic [in the Wembley Cup on Sunday] that we didn't get hold of the ball. Their two lads up front held the ball up, giving people the chance to get up and play.
"I don't feel we hold the ball up well enough, and I feel he can bring that into our game. He's a target man, he gives you an option if you play him right and I've had him play for me a few times. He's always done a great job."
Crouch has followed both Redknapp and Defoe from Pompey to Tottenham, having seen both of his colleagues move to north London between October and January, and Defoe believes his strike partner will solve further problems at Spurs.
"I think he'll help us away from home," he said. "If you look at our record at home, a lot of teams have found that the Lane's a difficult place to come.
"When we're playing there we create a lot of chances and score a lot of goals, but maybe away from home we play a bit differently, and I think bringing Crouchy in would help us.
"Sometimes you get difficult games away from home, teams put you under pressure and you can't play football. Sometimes you've got to go long and you've got to go direct, and obviously because of Crouchie's presence and size, he allows you to do that."
If Defoe is correct that will make a big difference too, as the Lilywhites only picked up 16 points from a possible 57 on the road, losing 11 of their 19 league outings.
Quite simply, when added to the qualities of the rest of the first team, Crouch's attributes are sure to have a very tangible impact on the league table.
He is arguably the missing cog in the wheel, and few believed Redknapp's assertion in May that he wasn't looking for "a giant of a striker" - everyone could see that was exactly what Tottenham needed.
Crouch has consistently proved himself at the highest level, netting an impressive 15 goals in 32 appearances for England and scoring 13 Champions League goals for Liverpool in 29 showings.
If Didier Zokora is worth �8.5million then Crouch is an absolute steal at �9m. Manchester City may be grabbing all the headlines in this transfer window, but Tottenham have probably bagged the bargain of the summer.
It now remains to be seen whether the strike force assembled since January can outgun Arsenal, City, Aston Villa and Everton, and fire Crouch back into the Champions League.