After a toothless display in the week against Wolves, the free scoring Tottenham have been bought back to earth. At times this season Tottenham have shown some scintillating attacking play but much of the striking goal threat has been carried by Jermain Defoe. So is it time for Roman Pavlyuchenko to get a chance alongside Defoe in the first team?
Peter Crouch has been at the heart of the Tottenham team this season yet he has scored only 5 goals in 26 league appearances. He does not carry a significant goal threat and with such talented strikers as Eidur Gudjohnsen and Roman Pavlyuchenko at the club, surely other players deserve more of a chance.
The reason that Crouch has been a regular in the team this season has been his successful partnership with Defoe. Due to his height Crouch is able to win headers and flick the ball on for Defoe to score. They are a classic combination of the big man and little man strike force. The problem for Tottenham however, is that if Defoe struggles to find the net then the goals will need to come from the midfield. Of course players like Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric have a good nose for goal but they should not have to make up for a strikers lack of goals.
Crouch has never been an incredibly prolific striker, but in fairness to him he scores more goals than fellow target men like Emile Heskey or Kevin Davies. This season has been one of his most disappointing goal returns in his career yet he is playing at arguable the most creative side of his career. Tottenham have always had a history of exciting attacking play and this current side stick to that tradition. Defoe has been scoring with ease with 15 goals in 22 league starts, in no small part due to the creativity behind him. Crouch plays in the same side yet has only managed 5 goals. Defoe is a ruthless striker so he rarely sets up a teammate when there is an opportunity to score himself. Crouch however could be accused of lacking a clinical edge which alone would bring him several more goals.
With Robbie Keane on loan at Celtic there are two options if Crouch is ever rested. Gudjohnsen started against Wolves and despite some nice touches needs more game time to get accustomed to his team mates. In Roman Pavlyuchenko Tottenham have another talented striker who deserves a longer run in the 1st team. He has started only 19 league games in over a season and a half. Unsurprisingly such sporadic appearances has resulted in a below par 5 goals. In fairness to the Russian however a striker needs a run of games, so he can establish a rapport with his strike partner. Pavlyuchenko has enough quality to be allowed this opportunity, and if he is not in Redknapp’s plans yet, then he should have been loaned out in January to gain more confidence.
Pavlyuchenko is not the most popular player with the White Hart Lane faithful, due to his lack of goals. Cast your mind back a couple of seasons however to when Defoe was on the bench unable to get into the 1st team. Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov were in imperious form and Defoe struggled to get any starts. I am not suggesting that Pavlyuchenko will become a fans favourite and score goals with ease; simply that he has enough quality to at least be a more regular sub. He has made only 4 league appearances all season and he is definitely worthy of more game time. Another player that has struggled at Tottenham is David Bentley, who at present, with a run in the team is looking like the player he once was at Blackburn Rovers. Players take time to adapt and they deserve a second chance and with goals needed surely Pavlyuchenko deserves his chance now.
Not only does Pavlyuchenko deserve a chance, but by dropping/resting Crouch, Redknapp will get a refreshed and hungry striker. Like many fringe England players Crouch has one eye on the World Cup and it is essential for him to be playing and scoring. If he were to be dropped then Crouch will realise that he has to do more and perhaps he will return with a ruthless streak which will fire him into Fabio Capello’s plans. In the mean time Tottenham would have a Russian international desperate to prove himself and hungry for success, and capable of scoring in the Premier League if only he was given a fair chance.
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