Peter Crouch believes the plethora of striking options available to manager Rafael Benitez will hold the key to Liverpool’s bid for the Premier League title this season.
The manager has invested heavily over the summer to re-enforce the Reds’ attacking corps, bringing in Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin while recouping some of the outlay by offloading Craig Bellamy to West Ham and Djibril Cisse to Marseille, while Kop legend Robbie Fowler joined Cardiff.
While the signing of Spain star Torres may have proved the most eye-catching, Voronin has impressed during Liverpool’s pre-season campaign and with Crouch and Kuyt, who scored 18 and 14 goals respectively last term, plus Holland international Babel also vying for a starting berth, Liverpool will boast one of the most potent attacking forces in the Premier League for the coming campaign.
And despite the fact competition for places at Anfield will now be fiercer than ever, Crouch insisted the situation will benefit the club and fit Benitez’s policy of selecting his team according to the opposition.
“What is good is that I think that any of the strikers can play with each other,” he said.
“There’s no direct competition between any of us, we can play together.
“I think it will be crucial how the strikers combine but we’ve certainly got a mixture of pace and aerial ability with the new players and that is obviously good for the club.”
Liverpool’s title challenge has been hampered the last two seasons by slow starts as rivals Chelsea and Manchester United have fired on all cylinders from the opening whistle.
And with new players to be integrated into the squad, there are fears the Reds could once again be lagging behind their rivals come October.
But Crouch believes the new names have settled in well during a so far unbeaten pre-season.
“The new signings seemed to have gelled well,” he added.
“They came early in the pre-season so they have had the same time as the rest of us to settle in, which has been good.
“We need to start the Premier League well. The other teams have been so consistent we need everybody to gel together and we need to start well so it’s important.”
The latest victory was a 3-1 win over resilient Hong Kong side South China to claim a place in the Barclays Asia Trophy against fellow Premier League club Portsmouth and proved a useful test according to the 26-year-old.
“It was hot, it was good a workout. I played an hour and a few of us played 90 minutes so that was good and kept our pre-season winning streak going,” Crouch said.
Torres and Babel did not feature against South China as both are yet to receive international clearance to play.
With Steven Gerrard also sidelined with a slight abdominal strain, Benitez was forced to play Sami Hyypia in midfield for the final part of the game.
However, the Spaniard is hopeful his new acquisitions can face Pompey on Friday.
“There was a problem with the international clearance,” confirmed Benitez.
“I do not know exactly what the problem is but hopefully we can find a solution so they can play on Friday.”
Midfielder Xabi Alonso, meanwhile, believes Liverpool now have the strength in depth to challenge both United and Chelsea.
“I don’t like to compare to previous seasons but I think at the moment we have a strong squad and hopefully we can win trophies this season,” he said.