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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Starting Darren Bent over Peter Crouch is a good decision

It's not often that I'm able to give credit to Sven Goran Eriksson, but his decision to start Charlton Athletic's Darren Bent ahead of Liverpool's Peter Crouch for the friendly international against Uruguay this evening is one I like.

I have been very impressed by the emergence of Darren Bent this season. He had a fantastic goalscoring record in the Championship and - to me at least - was always destined to feature in the Premierhship. The Premiership manager with the foresight to gain his services was Alan Curbishley, and the £3million spent on Bent last summer already looks a fantastic deal for the Addicks.

Bent has scored 13 Premiership goals so far this season, and he has also fired goals in the FA Cup to launch Charlton into the quarter-finals. He has excellent pace, good physical presence, a clinical shooing ability, and the peach of a bullet header he scored against West Ham earlier this season showed he is not weak in the aerial department. Finally, what I really like about Darren Bent is that he comes across as having a well-balanced mindset combining competitive ambition and a cool level-head. At only 22 years old he, for me, has the potential to go very far.

Peter Crouch will be in the World Cup squad and he deserves to go to Germany. He has met criticism of his playing ability and some disgraceful personal attacks with good dignity and solid performances for Liverpool. Although his Premiership goal return of four is by no means prolific, he has done well in his main tactical role of being a reliable, nuisance-value target man for advancing midfielders and strike partners to play-off.

This is the role Rafa Benitez bought him for, and Eriksson has decided he should also have the 'Crouch option' up his sleeve as a Plan B.

I like Bent starting because it indicates that Eriksson is not planning to automatically use Crouch as a starting option if Michael Owen remains injury-plagued. For me, the problem starting with Crouch is that it can easily tempt his England teammates into a long-ball game, instead of a game based on accurate passing and having two strikers who can scare opposition defences with great pace and power. Bent is a better fit for the latter style of play that I would love to see England excel at come World Cup time.

Score prediction:
England 2 - 0 Uruguay


Blogger RedsMan said...

True words, T. Though Crouch can play along the ground as well as in the air, it could be the temptation to play the high balls constantly but surely Eriksson wouldn't be so one-dimensional. What impresses about Bent is scoring record though I fear, following from comments on ITVTeletext, that he may feel he is better than those around him. When you have Rooney and Owen as favourites, Crouch with height and touch, and then one other out of Defoe and Bent, I would choose Defoe. I would like Bent to put on a hard performance to make his inclusion for Germany a much thorough conclusion.

Prediction: Difficult. T bagged the main favourite so let's offer an alternative. I expect Rooney to continue from his League Cup routing, which could mean he'll take more efforts at goal or even it out with passes to Bent to run onto. Carrick in for Lampard could mean a number of through balls mainly for Bent. Joe Cole could very well burn on the wing again and with Carrick holding, Gerrard could give a solid 45mins with a shot on goal. Defensively Ferdinand and Terry seem very solid, neither defender are willing to let anything pass them. Uruguay should be restricted to shots from outside the box as a result unless they manage to break down the wings and look to cross often. Looking out for the known Diego Forlan and Alvaro Recoba, Villarreal's once Arsenal potential Sebastian Viera in goal, I'll go for 3-1.

May god help my soul.


3/01/2006 5:16 pm

Blogger T said...

Ha Ha Ha.... I sense you were feeling the pressure Redsman!

For a time it looked like we were both going to be completely wrong, but late goals from Crouch and Cole made our predictions in the end look quite on the money.

I predicted correctly that England would score two, and you predicted correctly that Uruguay would get one (and what a goal from Pauso it was!). I make that honours shared my good friend!

I enjoyed the match yesterday, and particularly the excellent contributions of Carrick, Cole and (when he came on) Wright Phillips in midfield. England played a quick, attacking passing game that was enjoyable to watch... and our ability to turn things around off-the-bench with the likes of Crouch and Wright-Phillips augurs well for a good World Cup. All in all it made for positive viewing.

As for Darren Bent: he did a 6 or 7 out of 10 job for me. He couldn't escape the tight Uruguayan marking for the 80 minutes he was on the pitch, but always worked hard and kept possession well when he got the ball. For me its still a tight call to decide between Defoe and Bent for the World Cup... and it could well come down to who has a stronger end of season. If the squad was picked right now I sense that Defoe would get the nod.

3/02/2006 11:42 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Honours are indeed even, my learned friend, it was close but it certainly didn't look as if England would score, though I sensed they had the players and attack to at least get one back.

I wonder if, additional to T's words of encouragement going intot he competition, that England could well pick up from Liverpool in pulling results late in the game. I won't be arguing, as long as they do or try to do it with conviction.

Other than that, I concur with your comments, T, not a word out of place.


3/02/2006 1:12 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nturtle - Bravo lads - great commentary & predictions!

3/03/2006 2:42 pm

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3/11/2006 4:55 am


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