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Crouch not cowed by Chelsea

Giant forward Peter Crouch maintains that Liverpool FC's lone striker formation can undo Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League.

Peter Crouch is a man who believes in tall stories. Two seasons ago he was dropping down a division on loan after failing to win a place in Aston Villa FC's first team, now he is leading the attack for European champions Liverpool FC in the UEFA Champions League.

Giant striker
Crouch, who stands over two metres tall, was a surprise summer capture by Reds manager Rafael Benítez and his circuitous route to Anfield - Liverpool are the 24-year-old's seventh club - affords him an appreciation of the good things that have come his way. Hence his excited words about Wednesday's Group G match against Chelsea FC. "It will be the biggest game of my career, no doubt," he said of the Anfield repeat of last spring's Champions League semi-final.

Lone striker
Amid the anticipation, Crouch is also ready to comment on the debate surrounding Liverpool's lone striker system, which has yielded just three goals in five domestic outings. Criticism was rife following a goalless draw against Manchester United FC in their last home fixture yet Crouch's winning Champions League debut against Real Betis Balompié offered evidence the system can work.

Ancillary role
Playing ahead of three attacking midfielders he had a hand in both goals and, reflecting on that night in Seville, told uefa.com: "The way we play with just one up front, there are times when other people can score and I think it works well, especially away from home. We need to be scoring more goals, in the Premiership especially, and I've no doubt it will come."

Holding position
Despite his 12 strikes in 27 Premiership appearances last term, Crouch has never been a prolific scorer, and has yet to open his account in six outings for the Reds. His principal job is to hold the ball up and allow the likes of Steven Gerrard - who played just behind him in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Birmingham City FC - to get forward. It certainly worked a treat for their first goal there, as Crouch laid the ball off to Gerrard who set up Luis García to score.

Aerial power
"Hopefully I've proved I can play up there on my own and retain the ball," he said. "Obviously aerially I am going to win most things and I'd like to think that I can hold the ball up and bring others into play. The other lads [Florent Sinama-Pongolle and García] who scored goals at Real Betis, for instance, were playing off me and it worked well."

Settling in
That was a promising start and Crouch believes things will only get better, saying: "I feel comfortable now, although I am new to the Champions League. There is a lot to learn from the manager and from the players here and I am confident I can do that. I am definitely picking things up and I think I will become a better player."

England credentials
"I've got my own targets," added Crouch, who made his England debut last summer. "To establish myself in the team and once you are a regular for Liverpool then England [recognition] comes from that and hopefully this will prove the case."

Chelsea examination
But first the Champions League and although Crouch says Liverpool are "no longer underdogs" in a competition they won against the odds last season, they will reassume that status against a Chelsea side they already trail by 14 points in the Premiership. Victory appears a tall order but Crouch seemed confident, saying: "We put one over on them last year and hopefully we will do the same again."

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