When football fans typically think of creative wingers at Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha is likely to spring to mind – a natural conclusion considering the Eagles’ talismanic forward has already achieved 5 goals in 6 games this season.
Yet Zaha’s goal contributions only reveal half of the attacking story this season. Indeed, one would be forgiven for forgetting the role Andros Townsend plays in Palace’s attack; the 29-year-old managed just a single goal in the 2019/20 season in a 2-0 win against Norwich.
Despite the less-than-prolific previous season, Townsend has managed to shrug off the scoring woes of last season and push on superbly in 2020/21 – with Palace’s recent win over London neighbours Fulham proving to be an exemplar performance that highlights the phoenix-like return of the Eagles winger.
Townsend has already netted once this season, in a comfortable 3-1 victory over Manchester United. He has also managed 2 assists, 142 passes, 39 crosses and 43 recoveries on his own – a testament to his phenomenal work rate on and off the ball. To say he has been impactful this season is almost an understatement.
It should come as no surprise then that the Palace hierarchy is interested in extending the winger’s contract as per The Sunday Mirror (25 October, page 73).
Although Townsend is only just beginning to find his feet again in league football, his underlying stats point to a player that is truly coming into his own, dictating play from the right with long balls, passes and ultimately some crucial goal contributions.
Even against Fulham, the winger was instrumental in unleashing Michy Batshuayi with a perfectly driven pass to the striker, who then slotted it to Zaha for a tap-in goal.
His creative threat only makes the contract issue paramount; Palace simply cannot afford to lose their experienced winger for free. He evidently possesses much more to give for the Eagles, and Hodgson will need the winger to remain integral to his plans.