Ask Crouchie! Peter Crouch is back to answer YOUR questions…

Ask Crouchie! Peter Crouch answers YOUR questions… on why Liverpool must work harder just to make top four, a serious issue with David de Gea… and the major incident that left Abbey speechless!

  • Sportsmail’s resident columnist Peter Crouch is back to answer your questions 
  • Liverpool’s title hopes are all but over after their defeat against Manchester City
  • VAR struck again as part of a spate of red card decisions that left Peter fed up 
  • Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish thrives off pressure and may be perfect for England 

Another weekend of talking points has left PETER CROUCH with plenty of correspondence to dissect. 

VAR is on the agenda, as are some selection issues for Gareth Southgate, but the first place to start is at Anfield for Sportsmail’s resident columnist.

His answers are sure to spark a debate… 

Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch is back to answer all of your burning questions this week, and top of the list is Jurgen Klopp’s (right) Liverpool suffering another dismal defeat

Can you still see Liverpool finishing in the top four?

Laurence Francis via email

Just about, Laurence, but they are going to have to work harder than ever to get across the line. Manchester City are going to be champions – that is not even up for debate – and I cannot quite believe the turnaround from when the sides played each other in November.

I said immediately after that game that Liverpool would win it. I was so impressed with them in Manchester, how they managed that game, but they were taken apart on Sunday. Phil Foden was absolutely breath-taking. Liverpool have got class but they are making things incredibly difficult.

Phil Foden (left) was breath-taking at Anfield, scoring once and assisting two more goals

Mohamed Salah (centre) and James Milmner (right) reflect on a shocking Liverpool defeat

Are Aston Villa the Premier League’s most improved team?

Curt via Twitter

It’s a toss-up between Villa and West Ham, Curt. I couldn’t give that label solely to Villa because I have been so impressed with the way David Moyes has got West Ham moving forward. Some of my mates are West Ham fans and they are in raptures at the minute.

But there is no denying what an excellent year it has been for Dean Smith and his squad. I covered their game against Arsenal and before kick-off, Rio Ferdinand and I looked at the pictures of the stadium and nodded. 

Villa Park is one the football grounds, a proper place to play.

It is a toss-up between Aston Villa and West Ham as the most improved team this campaign

What impressed me was how solid they looked. I’m impressed by Ezri Konsa, who is blossoming into one of the finest young central defenders in the division. Tyrone Mings continues to improve and they were given fantastic protection by John McGinn and Douglas Luiz.

The signing of Emi Martinez, meanwhile, has been critical. I couldn’t understand why Arsenal sold him and I was even more confused by that decision on Saturday. He was in possession of the jersey, he had won the FA Cup, so why let him go?

Also, are any of Arsenal’s keepers better than him? I’d say no.

VAR, Peter. It’s got to go

Padraig 1982 via Twitter

I was hoping to avoid VAR after last week’s rants, Padraig, but here we go again. The best thing I can say to you is plenty of other people will agree with you. I can guess what is coming is next…

What did you think of the red card for Tomas Soucek?

Adam Page via Twitter

I’ll tell you a story, Adam. When the incident happened, I paused the game and shouted Abbey in. I rewound the action and showed it to her. I simply asked her: ‘Do you think this is a sending-off?’

So she said: ‘No – it was an accident, wasn’t it? You can see it was an accident. Can’t you only get sent off for something if you do it on purpose?’ I should add here, that my wife takes absolutely no interest in football and doesn’t know the first thing about it.

But I thought she summed it up perfectly. I think everyone watching would have agreed with her view. We kept watching, though, and sure enough Mike Dean got the red card out and off went Soucek. Abs was speechless. I just puffed out my cheeks. I’m fed up with it all.

The last week has been pathetic for red cards, particularly the dismissal of Southampton’s Jan Bednarek against Manchester United – how can someone be sent off for actively trying to stay out of someone’s way? – but Soucek was a real low point. Please let the FA see sense and overturn it.

Peter is fed up with VAR after a ‘pathetic’ week of red cards, including Tomas Soucek’s (left), and his wife Abbey could not understand the decision either

Soucek was sent off during the draw at Fulham for an elbow on Aleksandar Mitrovic

What did you think went wrong with Manchester United’s performance against Everton?

Mvyusi Tyiwani via Twitter

There wasn’t a great deal wrong, Mvyusi, other than the inability to hang on to their lead and being sloppy in a few areas. Saying that, I would have to ask a serious question about David de Gea for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s last-gasp equaliser.

If he was my goalkeeper, I would have expected him to be straight off his line to take everything – man, ball, the lot. It’s the last act of the game and your team needs to win to keep the pressure on in the title race, so why are you not coming out to make the difference?

United are a good side. I love Bruno Fernandes and the class he provides, Luke Shaw is having a fantastic season and looking like the player we always thought he could be while Edinson Cavani has been superb. I said in a column when he first signed that he would be nothing like Radamel Falcao – who arrived on a loan in 2014 – and deserved respect.

When you are trying to become champions, though, there is no margin for error. The errors against Everton will prove costly in the long run.

Is Jack Grealish making himself the first name on the teamsheet at the Euros?

George Bishop via Twitter

I had the pleasure of interviewing him last week for BT Sport, George. I love watching him play and we had a really interesting conversation about the demands on local lads who plays for Aston Villa and the pressure he is under.

I always remember during my time at the club what was expected of lads such as Lee Hendrie and Darius Vassell. Villa fans expect to be up around the top four and when things don’t work out, it was always the local lads who came in for the grief first.

Jack told me, though, that he loves it – it is what makes him thrive. 

Jack Grealish has admitted he thrives under pressure and he could be a perfect fit for England

I don’t think he will have any fears whatsoever about going into a major tournament and watching the way he plays for Villa could be perfect for England.

He has this ability to draw two or three players towards him but then roll in a clever pass. If he can do that to feed men such as Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, the result could be thrilling.

There are players such as James Maddison, Mason Mount and Phil Foden all pressing to play but Grealish could have an impact like Paul Gascoigne. I’m not comparing him to Gazza, I’m simply saying I can see similarities.

Calvert-Lewin has played for England this season; Bamford is pushing to join him – which one would you pick for the next squad?

Alfie Marks via email

That’s such a tough question, Alfie. You mention those two lads but what about Ollie Watkins? He is a different type of player but don’t forget about Danny Ings. These are headaches for Gareth Southgate but he will be delighted to have them.

I talked in an earlier answer about always going with the man in possession of the shirt, which would make Calvert-Lewin the favourite. He had a great autumn with England, scored on his debut and is back in the goals after a lean spell over Christmas.

Bamford’s story, however, has been one of the most fascinating of the season. I knew the buzz around him when he was a kid at Chelsea but I wondered, after all those loans that didn’t really work out, whether he was just going to fade away.

It goes to show how important it is to find a manager who totally believes in you. Marcelo Bielsa has filled him with confidence and he is going from strength to strength. I love seeing players who have questions over them blossom. Long may this continue for Bamford.

Are you amazed by Harry Kane’s powers of recovery?

Luca Buckland via email

I switched the TV on to watch on Sunday, Luca, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw his name. I thought we wouldn’t see him until the middle of next month, so it was a surprise – to say the least – to see him on the pitch.

I’m not surprised, though, that Jose Mourinho is so eager to get him on the pitch. Kane is his captain, his talisman, his leading scorer and best creator. There is also something about his aura in that he lifts people around him to different levels.

We had it at Liverpool with Steven Gerrard. It’s ok when you are winning when the captain isn’t there but when you go behind, you start thinking: ‘Where is he? What happens now?’  

When the captain was on the pitch, you raised your level to meet his standards. That is what is happening with Tottenham now.

Until next week, stay safe and well.

Crouch was left shocked by Harry Kane’s goalscoring return for Tottenham against West Brom

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