‘There’s a Star man running down the right’.
This seasons new chant for Andros Townsend has been well deserved as we have seen the star winger lift his performances to new levels of consistency. Townsend endured a tough, inconsistent start to his Palace career and has been linked with moves to rival clubs in the past. Such rumours seem a distant memory now and many Palace fans would not think twice about a starting eleven without Townsend. He has become an integral part to the first team for a number of reasons.
There is no doubt that Townsend is a foundation of the team which is reflected by his appearances this season. He has featured in all 32 fixtures, including all FA cup and Carabao cup games. The only fixture Townsend wasn’t in the starting eleven for was the victory away to Swansea as he came on as a late substitute. Clearly Townsend is a highly favoured first team player, while Hodgson has chosen to rest other key players like Zaha, Miloveojevic and Wan-Bissaka in certain cup matches, Townsend has still been selected which is testament to Hodgson’s belief in the winger’s ability.
Such consistency has coincided with an upturn in form for Townsend this season. Townsend has impressed this year with his work rate and ability to contribute in the defensive third. Townsend has covered the 10th highest distance in the Premier League this season, clocking 278.6 km in 26 games which has been well received and appreciated by the fans. Being able to work back and defend is also a key component of the team’s setup under Hodgson, so it is no surprise that Townsend has featured in every game this season as he is a player who will execute the manager’s plans on the pitch. Not only is this work rate of importance to the team, it has also helped to establish a confident partnership with Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right side of the pitch by providing defensive support by doubling up and covering the young right back. Also, when going forward, Townsend has provided a useful outlet for Wan-Bissaka to use and has proven to be a dangerous counter attacking setup.
Being able to contribute in the final third has been a further strength for Townsend more recently. He has contributed to 11 goals overall in all competitions this season with 7 goals and 4 assists, more than any other player in the squad. Although he had a slow start to the season regarding the attacking side of his game, he has provided more in this area recently. All of his goals and assists have come in the last few months, following his first goal of the season away at Chelsea in November. Adding to the goal and an assist count is an element where Townsend has been lacking in the past and the end product is still not as efficient as it could be. Nonetheless, so far Townsend has already contributed to as many goals as he did in the 2017-18 (11 overall) season and more than the 2016-17 season (10 overall). Hopefully, we can anticipate further assists and goals for the remainder of the season, especially if Townsend’s consistent form continues.
Despite leading the way for his contributions to goals, Townsend must still strive to improve his composure and ruthlessness in front of goal (although the same can be said for all of our players.) Statistics show that he has a 12% conversion rate based on shots attempted (57) and amount of goals scored (7) which is certainly a component of his game to improve. This is a significant improvement on last season’s conversion rate though which saw a meagre 3% conversion rate based on 2 goals from 69 shots in all competitions. Townsend’s contribution to chances has also been impressive by creating 46 chances for team mates in the league this season. Particularly stand out displays in this area have been against those teams in and around us such as Burnley (6 chances created), Cardiff (7 chances created) and 3 chances created against Newcastle, Leicester and Fulham respectively. Clearly Townsend provides a threat in the final third and we have seen his direct approach fit perfectly in to the dangerous counter attacking play of the team. Although, a more cynical end product would have yielded further goals and possibly points.
Andros Townsend is having a fantastic season for Crystal Palace; he seems to be enjoying his time at the club and is showing a new level of maturity and professionalism under Hodgson. His importance to the team is paramount, both in defence and attack. He has shown excellent improvements in his game and his contribution to the team this season can’t be underestimated. Although he still has areas which he could improve, he could well be in contention for a player of the season award if he maintains his consistency. It is hard to consider a team without Townsend at the moment and there is no other player in our ranks who could challenge him for the role he plays in the team; it is difficult to think of any viable replacement when looking at the rest of the squad. It is vital that he stays fit and injury free if we are to have a successful end to the season.