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Key battle - Ledley King on Jan and Toby against Jermain Defoe

Posted on 16 September 2016  - 19:15

Our regular feature continues as the King of the Lane, Ledley King, looks at a key battle against Sunderland - how central defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen cope with Ledley's friend and former team-mate Jermain Defoe on Sunday.

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Few players know Jermain Defoe better than Ledley King.

Both brought up at famed East London youth side Senrab, the pair played together at Spurs for a total of seven years.

And they are legends of this Club. Ledley, the Academy prospect who went on to captain the Club, lift the League Cup at Wembley and lead us into the Champions League, played 323 matches between 1999-2012.

Jermain's two spells at the Club - 2004-2008 and 2009-2014 - yielded 143 goals, placing him fifth in our all-time goalscoring list.

He's still going strong at Sunderland and arrives at the Lane on the back of scoring in six-successive away games.

How do we keep him out? Who better to ask than Ledley, who trained against him every day (or at least, when his knee allowed him to train) and played against Jermain in his younger days at West Ham.

ledley200x275Ledley King

323 appearances for Spurs 1999-2012
League Cup winner and captain, 2008
21 caps for England, selected for 2010 World Cup
Now Club Ambassador

How do you stop Jermain?

Ledley: "It's a good question, and the answer isn't that simple! We’re at home so Sunderland are likely to have less of the ball. As a defender, it’s vital you maintain 100 per cent concentration because Jermain is always looking for a goal. He’s scored a lot of goals in away matches for Sunderland and that will be down to defenders switching off and Jermain will always look to get in behind, looking for any passes through midfield, running in behind. He’s always a threat and someone you have to watch for the full 90-plus minutes."

Below: Jermain on target at Manchester City

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Natural born finisher

Ledley: "What makes Jermain so dangerous is that he’s a striker who can score from inside and outside the box. In fact, scoring from outside is one of his biggest strengths, he shifts the ball so quickly and gets shots off even from 20, 25 yards, he’s capable of that. There was a time when I was playing with him that anytime there was half-a-chance, I was just saying ‘goal’ at the back of my head because he was that good a finisher, especially anything that drops to him in box. That’s why throughout the full 90 minutes, you have to be aware, because here is someone who is ready to score at any time."

A different role

Ledley: "Jermain always worked well in partnerships - think back to his days with Crouchy here - and that was difficult for defenders because he’s so sharp, he latches onto any knockdowns so quickly. Now he’s the focal point up front on his own, so it’s a little different now. He’s got to try to wins things, hold it up and still try to score."

Below: Toby and Jermain at the Lane last January

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Longevity - never in doubt

Ledley: "He played so well last season but personally, I never doubted him for one minute when he came back to the Premier League (from Toronto). I spent a lot of time with him here and I know how hard he works on trying to keep himself fit, he’s a fantastic trainer and ready to work hard every day. I always felt he’d play well into his 30s, he’s that kind of player, scoring his goals, a bit like Kevin Phillips, who played for a long time. It’s no surprise to me he’s still capable of banging in the goals and we’ll have to be on our game defensively to stop him on Sunday."