Morrison: Crouch seen as Stoke City's saviour

ANGUS MORRISON
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2014

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OPINION: "He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed - Peter Crouch!"

He is the antithesis of the modern-day footballer. Freakishly tall and gangly, Crouch looks like a drunk Bambi trying to pirouette on an ice rink covered in oil, while balancing a plate on his head. And that's just walking out to the centre circle.

Crouch heads Stoke City's frontline for tomorrow's visit of his former club, Liverpool, and he looks like the Potters' only hope of troubling the scorers against a side led by Luis Suarez, who is in the form of his - and anyone else's - life.

Crouch, who was once asked, "What would you be if you weren't a professional footballer?" and famously replied, "A virgin", is married to babe-of-the-day Abbey Clancy, the winner of Strictly Go Dancing on Ice in the Jungle, or whatever that rubbish is called. They are one of the country's most high-profile couples, and his wife's success has coincided with a nice run of form from the big man.

Despite his critics, Crouch has scored 119 league goals in his career, and not many players can say that. Ironically, he's up against a striker who is head and shoulders above him - at least in talent - but Stoke have a tight defence, and Suarez could be paying a visit to the local A&E department after this one. When Ryan Shawcross tackles someone, they stay tackled. Just ask Aaron Ramsey.

Prediction: A hard-fought draw. And in a bet that could be scuppered by Suarez in the third minute, and the 15th, and the 60th . . . the $13 for 0-0 is a bit of fun.

GOALS GALORE

Coming off the back of three straight losses, there are probably better clubs to invite to your gaff than Manchester City.

Manuel Pellegrini's boys have been smashing goal-scoring records all season, even after Sergio Aguero's injury, and Newcastle - despite the superb Tim Krul - have been leaky at the back.

In their past 10 home games, City have won the lot and scored 43 goals. With nearly half a season left, they have scored 92 goals in all comps - only one short of their total for the whole of last season.

Newcastle were trundling along nicely until Christmas, and while the wheels haven't fallen off, a couple look at least a little wobbly. With Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa providing the wizardry, and Loic Remy the end product, they're a dangerous outfit, but City didn't become title favourites because they've got a nice, if slightly feminine, strip.

Prediction: Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure and David Silva to continue scoring for fun in an entertaining 3-1 win. Over 3.5 goals at $2.40 is a fair price.

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IT'S NO CHOKE

With Chelsea set to bring Hull City back to earth overnight, Arsenal need to beat a plucky Villa to stay top. But with Theo Walcott the latest in a lengthy list of sidelined players, that will be easier said than done.

Villa were never going to trouble the top six this season, but they're a tight team with a lot of pace and energy, and if Arsene Wenger hasn't got his players up for this, their annual choke begins on Tuesday.

Prediction: Villa to make a mockery of the TAB's $6 price and win with something in hand.

- Sunday News

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