Crouch's aerial prowess will rattle Gunners, says Redknapp

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger said yesterday that he believed Arsenal could deal with the threat of Peter Crouch in the air despite his team's recent weakness from set-pieces. Arsenal conceded against West Ham and AZ Alkmaar in the Champions League after failing to defend high balls.

Crouch will start in attack for Tottenham today in the absence of the suspended Jermain Defoe and the England striker has caused problems for Arsenal in the past. He scored a hat-trick against them for Liverpool in March 2007, including one header.

Against AZ in the Champions League last week, Arsenal gave Graziano Pelle a free header which he steered into the path of David Mendes for the equaliser. Against West Ham, the Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone, expected to be left out today in favour of Manuel Almunia, could not hold Alessandro Diamanti's free-kick and Carlton Cole headed in.

Cole caused considerable problems for Arsenal defenders Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas in the air but Wenger said that his defence did not have a major problem. "At Alkmaar we were guilty of not winning the header but it can happen," he said. "It could happen that Crouch wins some balls against us. That doesn't mean we don't want to jump."

The Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said that, for all Crouch's ability with the ball at his feet, his greatest threat was in the air. "He is a good footballer but I still think you have to hit him in the air. He can pass and play but the thing that makes him different is that he wins every header if you get good balls into him.

"Against Birmingham he was up against [Roger] Johnson who is a good header of the ball but Crouchy came on, won five headers, hit the bar and scored a goal. He couldn't handle him. He's so tall so if we get good quality balls he will be a threat to Arsenal."

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