Fonte forecasts Crouch clash

Jose Fonte


  • Jose Fonte relishes Saturday's Premier League showdown with Stoke City's Peter Crouch
  • Portuguese defender has tasted defeat just once in seven career visits to the bet365 Stadium
  • Fonte also has words of praise for West Ham United's Norwegian midfielder Havard Nordtveit

"Peter Crouch is an awkward one to play against because of his size, obviously it's difficult to get the ball against him in the air, but he's not bad with the ball on the floor as well so he's a good player."

Jose Fonte did not deliberately use one of football's most common cliches for nothing. He is simply a fan of Stoke City's former England centre forward.

For 15 years, Crouch has been terrorising Premier League defences, scoring 101 goals in 428 appearances for six different clubs.

Since 2011, the 36-year-old has been leading the line for the Potters, netting 38 times and causing havoc with his unique combination of height and technical ability.

"He's been around for a long time and we've faced each other many times, so it's another good test, like it is every week because you always face good strikers in the Premier League," said Fonte, who scored the winner on his first-ever trip to Stoke with Crystal Palace in the Championship in April 2008.

"It's the toughest league in the world and another big challenge, but hopefully we can keep him quiet like we did with Romelu Lukaku.

"If we do that and keep a clean sheet that would be amazing."

Jose Fonte

Stoke are about more than just Peter Crouch, however, with Mark Hughes' squad also containing exciting ball-players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Joe Allen.

Fonte knows Stoke have plenty of creative ability in their ranks and says the Hammers will need to defend resolutely if they are to pick up a positive result in the Potteries.

“I’ve played many times against them and they’ve been changing throughout the years and when you have players like Arnautovic who like to have the ball and creative players, they are able to change their style,” he confirmed.

“They always have that option with Peter Crouch up front with the long ball, but they’ve been trying to play more, they’re a good side, they’re comfortable in the league and they know their strengths.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game, as it always is at Stoke, but we’re confident and we’re in a good place now. We feel good, we’ve been training really hard and hopefully we can get the three points, which would be fantastic for us.”

One player who could be central to West Ham's hopes of keeping Stoke's attacking stars quiet will be Havard Nordtveit, who enjoyed his finest 90 minutes in a Claret and Blue shirt against Everton last weekend.

The Norway defensive midfielder drew on all his experience to quiet the Toffees and is likely to be important again this coming Saturday.

“I’m most definitely pleased for Havard and credit to him, because he’s always been working hard in training, he’s a good lad and when he had his chance, I thought he did really well.

“I think we’re all pleased he had a good game and he had some important tackles, won lots of balls and the more games he gets, the better he’ll play. Credit to him and well done to him.”

*Jose Fonte outlines the reasons behind West Ham United's defensive improvement in recent matches in Part One of his exclusive interview, which you can read here!