Goal shy Defoe

A frustrating afternoon for Tottenham today confirmed one important piece missing from Harry Redknapp’s puzzle – a proven striker. Spurs had a total of 31 shots today (including ones blocked) with at least 14 of those on target yet couldn’t find the back of the net. The two best chances fell to West Ham old boy Jermain Defoe and, while proving a thorn in the Hammers defence all afternoon, the England striker couldn’t find a way past man of the match Rob Green. Such news has been the story of Spurs season with Defoe, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko reaching a grand total of 11 goals in 29 games between them.

Reports in January suggested Spurs had put in bids for the Spanish based quintet of Sergio Aguero, Fernando Llorente, Diego Forlan, Giuseppe Rossi and Alvaro Negredo, any of which would have proved better than the current crop at Spurs. Bids for all five indicate Redknapp knows just how important a striker is this season especially with the signing of Rafael Van der Vaart leaving the Spurs manager reverting to a 4-4-1-1 formation rather than the effective 4-4-2 of last season. Such a change may have improved the creativity from the midfield but the touch of quality from the strikers coupled with the ability to play up top as the lone forward has seen the goals from the front men come few and far between.

Defoe, especially, has found league goals hard to come by this season with only two to his name (courtesy of a double at Wolves earlier this month). He started the 2009/10 season is blistering form yet, since his injury in September, has lost the spark that instilled fear in teams defences. I was at White Hart Lane today and a fan behind me hit the nail on the head with his comment on Defoe with this beauty “He is there to score goals which he isn’t doing rendering him useless”. I have to admit, I couldn’t agree more. Defoe has a renowned eye for goal but has thus far failed to demonstrate his ability this season. He recently complained about a lack of first team chances this season especially when he was in scoring ‘form’. He got his chance today and failed to take two guilt edged opportunities that would have gifted Tottenham all three essential points.

Crouch may not be hitting the back of net regularly in a Spurs shirt but when Redknapp opts for his 4-4-1-1 formation, the England forward’s greatest asset is bringing his team mates into play. It’s no coincidence that Van der Vaart’s early season scoring form came from more-than-a-few Crouch knockdowns. Although not a world beater, on his day Crouch is a handful for any defence. Yet despite his link up play, his finishing ability has proven to be a major weakness for Crouch. Too many times he has found himself in a great position to score yet fails to take his chance which has, at times, cost the North Londoners points this season.

Finally Pavlyuchenko. He is a frustrating footballer to watch but has a knack for scoring goals. His 71st minute cameo perhaps came a little too late today with his efforts lacking the necessary to beat the on form Green today but he has proven his goalscoring qualities during his three years at White Hart Lane. As I mentioned, the Russian is frustrating to watch. Too many times he is knocked off the ball far too easily with his touch letting him down on numerous occasions (although his goals against Chelsea and Wolves have both come from poor touches to give him some much needed space to test the keeper and hit the back of the net). Admittedly, his goals have gifted Spurs with maximum points on a number of occasions this season but his inconsistency and physicality mean he won’t be proven lone striker in the future.

Nonetheless, Spurs need a striker in the summer (believe me, I can’t emphasise the ‘need’ highly enough). Today must have shown Redknapp how important it is to sign a striker that is proven in the lone striker role because, in my opinion, his current trio aren’t up to the standard of Champions League quality.

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