Crouch stands tall as Spurs head for heights

Blackburn Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2

If this really is to be the season when an outsider puts a dent in the Big Four's domination of the Premier League, then Tottenham have put down a marker this week to suggest that they could be the anointed ones.

Three days after their buccaneering defeat of Manchester City that hastened the inevitable for Mark Hughes, they accounted for his former club in a very different type of game. "We had to scrap more today," said the Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp. Indeed, with only two home defeats in Sam Allardyce's first year in charge, the evidence is that everyone has to scrap for the spoils at Blackburn.

Spurs' willingness and ability to do so says as much for their top four aspirations as their capacity for running other sides off their feet when everything is going their way.

Six points from the two Lancashire clubs have come at a good time for Spurs, with most of the teams above them looking distinctly fallible. Redknapp was particularly animated by Liverpool and Manchester United's defeats on Saturday. "Teams are getting beaten when they wouldn't have got beaten in another year," he said. "There's an opening for someone. Whether we're good enough, time will tell."

A side hoping to make that breakthrough probably needs an embarrassment of riches in at least one key area – and Spurs have it up front. At Ewood, the prolific Jermain Defoe missed his one real chance, but Peter Crouch stuck all three of his away – one disallowed for offside – and Robbie Keane came off the bench to spark up the effort in the second half.

Redknapp still has a few things to sort out – today he will be calling in the players who went on that unauthorised trip to Dublin – but Spurs showed at Blackburn the difference between a side that has been able to spend big and one that has not.

"We'll have to sell before we can buy," said Allardyce, contemplating his ruined first anniversary in the job and the rapidly approaching transfer window. "We might be better working with what we've got."

He had a fair point in arguing that Crouch's first goal should have been ruled out for climbing all over Ryan Nelsen, but his real problem was the one underlined by misses from Benni McCarthy and Franco Di Santo; Blackburn simply cannot score goals.

There were good things about their performance, notably an industrious midfield lead set by Vince Grella and some fleet-footed work down the left from the young Canadian Junior Hoilett. But until someone starts to score occasionally, the season will become harder and harder work for Rovers.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Jacobsen, Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda; Salgado (Pedersen, 63), Grella, Nzonzi, Hoilett (Roberts, 80); Di Santo (Kalinic, 71), McCarthy.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekottu; Lennon (Hutton, 89), Huddlestone, Palacios (Jenas, 57), Kranjcar; Defoe (Keane, 66), Crouch.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Tottenham Corluka.

Man of the match: Crouch.

Attendance: 26,490.

Redknapp: Tax case 'farcical'

Harry Redknapp has played down the news that HM Customs and Revenue wants to take action against him next month. The Tottenham manager has denied any wrongdoing following an investigation into his financial affairs which included him being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in November 2007. He told BBC Radio Five Live: "It's not a major issue. It's something that was done between myself and my ex-chairman, away from football, and it really is unbelievable. I can't comment on it, but it's farcical."

Spurs said: "The club considers this matter to be a private, tax issue which pre-dates Harry's employment with the club and which is not related to football matters. His position remains unaffected and he has the full support of the club."

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