We can learn from top four's home form, says Crouch

TOTTENHAM may have caught most of their Premier League rivals by surprise with their 100 per cent start to the season, but the element of surprise has now evaporated. When Spurs return from the international break...

By Ben Pearce

TOTTENHAM may have caught most of their Premier League rivals by surprise with their 100 per cent start to the season, but the element of surprise has now evaporated.

When Spurs return from the international break, they are likely to see a different approach from many of their opponents, particularly at White Hart Lane.

Having spent three years at Liverpool, Peter Crouch is all too familiar with life at a 'top four' club, and the striker believes his new team-mates are now starting to experience the tactics which are employed against the league's elite group.

Saturday's goalscorer is no stranger to the task of breaking down unambitious opponents at home, and he admits that Spurs' stunning early-season form could see visitors adopting a similar approach in N17.

"Could teams start playing for a point at White Hart Lane? Yes i believe so," said Crouch. "Birmingham had one up front on Saturday and they tried to pack out the midfield.

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"I've seen it at Anfield [playing for Liverpool], when teams come and try to sit deep, and I think it might be the case that teams come to White Hart Lane and try to do the same thing, because with the amount of quality we've got, teams aren't going to want to expose themselves and be left on the break."

Having craved the title of a 'top four side', Spurs may soon discover the down-side of that reputation when they are gunning for victory at the Lane.

However, Crouch believes his team-mates can learn further lessons from the championship contenders when playing at home.

Despite taking maximum points from their clashes with Liverpool and Birmingham at the Lane, Spurs are still failing to turn total dominance into goals.

That was an issue at the end of last season, when Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City were all outplayed but were only beaten by one goal.

It was the same story on Saturday as Birmingham somehow survived a 30-minute siege at the start of the match and escaped into the dressing-room at half-time on level terms.

But Crouch argues that Spurs should not dwell on that trend, pointing out that even the league's elite struggle to win convincingly in front of their own fans.

"It would have been nice if we had scored earlier, I think the game would have been a lot easier, but sometimes it's not to be," he said.

"You look at when teams win league titles like Man United - they play some fantastic football and then in some games they have to dig in and just win by one, even if it's at home. That's what we did on Saturday and hopefully we can continue to do that.

"You can play fantastic football like we did at Hull, but sometimes you have to dig in and get a result. And I think if you're going to be a successful side that's what you've got to do, and it was a case of that at the weekend."

Of course, Crouch was one of the main reasons why Spurs got a result on Saturday, and the hosts were infinitely more dangerous when the 6ft 7ins striker was introduced off the bench in the second half.

While the Lilywhites dominated possession against Alex McLeish's side, genuine chances became increasingly hard to come by as the starting front pair of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe were starved of space.

That all changed when Crouch was introduced, and the lanky frontman admits he could be called upon to fulfil a similar role in future, offering an aerial route to goal if Defoe and Keane are struggling to play their way through.

"The manager's said we've got a lot of different options now, and sometimes if it's not working then obviously I can bring something different to the team. It went well against Birmingham," said Crouch.

"I felt good, as soon as I came on I felt lively and fresh and I thought if I could get on the end of a few crosses then I always felt confident I would score in the end.

"When you come on you're just trying to make an impact as a sub, and I could have had a few.

"One was on the line or just over the line, I don't know which. Another one hit the bar, and then obviously I was really pleased to get my first goal here at White Hart Lane.

"It felt like a matter of time before I got one, and thankfully we did. Then obviously when they scored it was disappointing and I thought it wasn't going to be, but Aaron Lennon popped up with a fantastic goal.

"Obviously I'd still prefer to start games, and I hope I've given the manager something to think about. I'm confident that I'm going to play a big part in Tottenham's future and hopefully I can play the majority of games.