Connect with us


Jermain Defoe’s Five: Is He On His Way To South Africa?


Jermain Defoe hit five goals yesterday in Spurs’ demolition – the word doesn’t seem strong enough, at times – of Wigan Athletic, but has he done enough to merit a place in Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad next summer?

Many pundits and people in the game, including ‘Arry (who would of course be a neutral observer in such matters), have rushed to declare Defoe as the ‘best finisher in England’ and a certainty for this forthcoming squad. There is compelling contemporary evidence for this: no-one has scored five goals in a Premier League game since Alan Shearer in 1999; Defoe is having the best season of his career to date; he’s even started scoring for England, and is by all accounts flourishing under Redknapp this season, leading the country’s goalscoring charts with eleven. Among his rivals for what surely is one spot, Michael Owen is struggling to score and play regularly for Manchester United; and Darren Bent has seemingly done himself few favours with his ineffective performance in Doha. As of now in late November, Jermain Defoe, according to many, can start either cancelling his summer plans or moving them thousands of miles closer to Johannesburg.

However, can Defoe really start to count his chickens? If Defoe is in the form of his life at the moment, what does that say about his earlier career? His most productive season so far has merited only 14 league goals, below that of Bent’s best of 18, in a weaker Charlton Athletic team, while Defoe’s goals this season – in the ‘form of his life’ – have come mostly (8/11) in two games against Hull City and Wigan Athletic. Compare this to Bent, who has scored against each of the Big Four this season, as well as away to three of the aforementioned four last season. Defoe’s lively performance (relatively speaking) against Brazil, compared to Bent, came at a point where England were chasing the game, thus throwing more balls forward and comitting more teammates in support of the main striker; whereas Bent spent an hour chasing and hunting, crowded out by Brazilian defenders and without a midfield teammate within 40 yards. Can Bent be discounted because of a poor midfield performance? Bent has proved at Charlton that he can operate very effectively as a lone striker, and as his height and power compares favourably with Defoe, he could well prove a more effective all-round option.

Perhaps therefore, it could be argued that while Defoe’s sparkling current form gives him an advantage at the moment – with such pace and agility he is the the perfect foil for current partner Peter Crouch –  he could be pushed to the sidelines before South Africa. When Luka Modric comes back from injury, perhaps Harry will feel it necessary to drop a less powerful striker to accomodate Modric, Niko Krancjar and Aaron Lennon in the same team, forcing Defoe back onto the bench. One thing that goes against Defoe is Spurs’ squad depth, meaning more competition for places and fewer appearances compared to Bent, who seemingly only needs to perform at a level above Frazier Campbell to stay in the Sunderland team. Defoe seems to hold all the aces at the moment, but in the home straight, Darren Bent’s (possible) sheer volume of goals, increased playing time and ability to play up front on his own (service pending, see his Charlton Athletic performances) could end up leaving Defoe with a busted flush. Oh yeah, and Michael Owen may just find some form, too.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Blu

    November 25, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Given his scoring form for England, I’d say it’s almost a certainty Capello would take Defoe as a squad player since he’s such a useful option from the bench. Past scoring records are not particularly useful in Defoe’s case, as he seems to have bulked up over the summer and improved greatly as a team player, and his chances for the WC should depend entirely on his form this season (which applies to almost all players imo). He’s been much more limited as a striker in the past and has drifted in and out of the starting lineup in previous teams especially under Jol, but I’d say that he’s clearly a favorite of Harry’s and is the first-choice striker now, especially with Keane’s inconsistency, Crouch’s less than dazzling scoring record, and Pav’s invisibility.

    I do like Bent and wouldn’t mind seeing him at the WC, but I’ll note that Bent’s conversion rate actually hasn’t been very good this season (24% goals/shots versus Defoe’s 31%). His goals against the top 4 this season have been some of the flukiest I’ve ever seen (though much cheered), and Sunderland as a whole team have been much better than Spurs against the top 4. Harry’s tactics and team selections in the games against Manyoo/Chelsea/Arsenal (and Sunderland) have been bizarre and we’ve struggled badly to create chances in those games, so I can’t really fault Defoe. Hopefully we’ve learned our lessons and adapt better the next time we come across a good side (Villa’s next!) so we can see how far JD’s really progressed.

  2. Luka

    November 23, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    It would take a lot for Redknapp to bench Defoe.. I think that he is the best striker in Tottenham and I am sure Mr Capello will take him to WC…

  3. Cockerel Tom

    November 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    What? The same Wigan team, minus a player who beat Chelsea 3-1? Yeah, they’re shit aren’t they.
    And what’s with the long article, it’s filling up the site. Can’t you fix it Gaffer??

  4. FredTheRed

    November 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Two points:
    1: You clearly don’t watch much football if you think Redknapp will bench Defoe. You should try and research things before writing about them.

    2: Is it too much to ask that you can tidy up your articles like the proper writers on here do?

    3. Michael Owen shouldn’t be in the Manchester United team, never mind the England squad. He’s finished.

    • Michael Scallon

      November 24, 2009 at 2:47 am

      “Two points” before making three different points. Well done.

      1. I don’t think Redknapp will bench Defoe, for a while at least, but as a common sense way of keeping Modric, Krancjar and Lennon in the same team, it’s certainly an option that Harry might go for, especially in big games away from home – compared with Bent who will surely start every game that he is fit for.

      2. Yes, because I’m very lazy and I’m not paid to do this. (Just a joke.)

      3. It’s a bit early to say that he’s completely finished, but it would take something remarkable (staying fit for about a month would be a start) to push him into contention. But if he starts scoring, people in the media will be jumping on a bandwagon, he is suddenly “back to his best” and Fabio’s hands may be tied.

      I personally think that they are playing for one spot – presumably if he gets a fair number of games, Emile Heskey will be going, plus one of Carlton Cole and Peter Crouch (both if Heskey struggles for games), and then with Wayne Rooney you’ve got one spot left for a quick guy who scores goals (thus ruling Michael Owen out. Honk!).

  5. Adam

    November 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Why is this article make it seem like the choice is Defoe or Bent? They should both be locks for the WC squad with Crouch rounding out the strike force. I’m not even sure why Michael Owen is mentioned in this article.

    • FredTheRed

      November 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm

      Another EPLTalk Liverpool obsessive??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »