Stoke City

When Juan Mata turned in Erik Pieters’ cross on Saturday it denied the twenty seven and a half thousand people in the Bet365 stadium a momentous occasion. Sure, they got to witness Wayne Rooney breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record. However, selfishly Rooney was far more interested in trying to win the game than celebrate properly. No, in the 19th minute the crowd, who braved the cold, and the thousands watching match of the day later, were denied the robot.

Peter Crouch, like a batsman nervously awaiting the next delivery, is one more strike away from a century of Premier League goals. A man, who has had his and most other people’s share of jokes, is now set to join a club with only 25 other members. A lot of these players are club legends, and Crouch will never be that. Assuming he does join the list, he will do so more as a journeyman. Before joining Stoke, Crouch never spent more than three seasons at the same club. Now into his sixth season with the Potters and with tightened rules for Chinese clubs, he will likely score his last goals there. He will not be known for being prolific, never having scored double figures in two consecutive seasons. To spend 17 years in the Premier League however is very impressive. The fact he stands so close to 100 goals, speaks for his consistency at the highest level in English football.

After three seasons at Aston Villa, where he scored his first Premier league goal in the 2001/02 season he moved to Southampton. In his one season on the south coast he scored his biggest haul of goals in one season, hitting the target 14 times. This prompted a move to Liverpool where he would spend three seasons scoring 22 of his 99 goals. He spent the next year back on the south coast, but this time for rivals Portsmouth, scoring 11 goals in the 2008/09 season. The next big move came to another European challenger in Tottenham where he linked up with Harry Redknapp. He scored only 12 goals in two full seasons in North London, but in May 2010 he scored the winner against Man City. This sealed fourth place and Champions League football for Spurs for the first time. In the summer of 2011 he moved to Stoke City scoring ten in his first season. Crouch made 30 plus appearances in the four seasons which followed, slipping further out of favour as the teams changed their style. With appearances limited last season he did not register a goal in 11 starts. Stoke’s other forward options have struggled as late and it is Crouch who has stepped in to score three in his last four games.

With his goal at Sunderland last week putting him one away from triple figures, I for one am hoping that the arrival of Saido Berahino does not see him slip too far from the starting XI. For him to stay on 99 goals would be a sad end to his career. He currently holds the record for the most headed goals in the Premier League, but one more to his total would put him in with the league’s elite. The phrase “not a great goal scorer, but a scorer of great goals” has seen a lot of air time, but no phrase fits Crouch better. At a goal in every 4 games he will not be remembered as one of the world’s best strikers in the way Lineker or Owen will. Instead he will be remembered for overhead kicks, long range strikes and season defining goals. Oh, and if you have not ever seen it for THAT goal for Stoke against Man City in March 2012.