When Peter Crouch returns to Liverpool tonight, Rafa Benitez might well wish he could turn back time to when the striker was surprisingly deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield. Just two years ago, the frontman became frustrated by his lack of first-team starts as Fernando Torres made an instant Premier League impact. Crouch left for Portsmouth that summer, but Benitez has since rued the fact he left, and lost out to Tottenham last July when he was available again for transfer.
It has proved a significant moment in the fortunes of both clubs this season as they compete for a top-four finish. With Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun sidelined, Liverpool will be without their three leading scorers against Spurs and lack the goal threat that someone like Crouch offers the visitors. Having signed him for Southampton, Portsmouth and Spurs, Harry Redknapp has continually had faith in Crouch, who said: "He always seems to get the best out of me. There have been a lot of other managers that I have had that have struggled to get the best out of me. I don't think I have anything to prove to Liverpool. Some of the best years of my career were spent there."
Meanwhile, Portsmouth have been dealt another blow after their application to have a winding up petition from the English tax authorities struck out was dismissed by a High Court judge yesterday. The club had argued that the VAT (value added tax) portion of its massive tax bill was too high by £7.5million (Dh45m), but failed to convince Mr Justice Newey. A further hearing is now expected on February 10, and the outcome could send Portsmouth a step closer to being the first Premier League club to drop into administration. The decision is another blow for Pompey's owner Ali al Faraj, who has been battling huge debts since the day he took over. @Email:email@example.com
Liverpool v Tottenham, KO midnight, Showsports 1 & 2