Defoe revival thanks to Gunners, says Redknapp

 

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp has credited three former Arsenal men for bringing the best out of Jermain Defoe and giving Tottenham Hotspur the strike force to finally finish above their north London rivals.

It has been 16 years since they finished higher than Arsenal in the league table, pre-dating Arsène Wenger's reign, but the Spurs manager believes it will now be on if Defoe's partnership with Emmanuel Adebayor continues to flourish.

Redknapp feels Adebayor, brought to England by Wenger five years ago, has already raised Defoe's game. The England striker has certainly looked a different player from a year ago, when he recovered from an injury only to lose his form. At a loss, the 28-year-old Defoe then turned to Ian Wright, and the former Arsenal hero recommended he see the fitness coach Tiberius Darau in France.

"Jermain was low last year when he was not scoring," said Redknapp. "Ian Wright is good for him. He is very friendly with him, he's bubbly and spends a bit of time with him.

"Wrighty recommended Tiberius Darau, a guy who is about 70. He was with Arsenal for years and very close to Wenger [and] Patrick Vieira.

"He spent a large part of the summer working with him, three sessions a day – very early in the morning, afternoon and evening – and came back stronger and fitter."

Defoe is still having sessions with Darau after seeing the results of his work, with Redknapp adding: "Jermain will go and see him early in the morning, [and] spend an hour with him before he comes and trains here."

The striker took until March last season to get two Premier League goals, but already has that many after scoring against Wolverhampton and Liverpool, and will be looking to increase that tally at Wigan today.

"It's a classic combination with Adebayor – big man, little man. They look bright together," Redknapp said.

Arsenal's stuttering start to the season means they are the obvious club for Spurs to target to replace in the top four – Wenger's side could finish today bottom of the table if results go against them.

"I think we can overhaul Arsenal but it will be tight," said Redknapp. "I would never write Arsenal off. I can understand what Wenger is going through, it must be a nightmare for him because he has never had it before. He knows the game and they will be bang there again. He is one of the best in my opinion."

William Gallas and Aaron Lennon are both sidelined today but could be back to face Arsenal next week. But midfielder Tom Huddlestone will see a specialist on Monday and may need surgery on his ankle problem, with Redknapp adding: "They are going to open up his ankle again."

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