Tottenham and the catch-22 situation with Andros Townsend 4

Andros Townsend

Andros Townsend

When a player takes defenders on, runs with the ball, a has shots on-goal, the temptation is to always view that as a positive and to see the player as a match-winner. To a certain extent, that’s relatively true, but there is a difference between being that kind of player, and be a genuine asset to a side.

Andros Townsend has had a good start to the season, and at the moment he leads the Premier League in both successful dribbles per game (5.7) and shots per game (5.3). On the surface, those are both very healthy statistics, but in reality they almost cancel each other out - especially when you consider that, despite those 5.3 shots per game, Townsend is without a league goal and without an assist from open play.

A lot of his game is based on instinct, and while that’s something that you never want to take away from a player, Townsend’s overall game has to be complemented with better use of the ball. If he can beat defenders and get himself into threatening positions then that’s obviously a good thing, but if - once in those positions - he wastes the opportunities he creates for the side by taking-on low percentage shots, then it’s all rather redundant.

Against the very best full-backs in the league, he’s not going to be able to continuously run with the ball, and so it’s especially important for his progression that he’s able to mix his natural, dynamic game with a more economic approach. Sometimes he almost seems to be playing the game without his peripheral vision, because right now he lacks the ability to see the options around him as they develop; if he wants to become a elite player, rather than just a good one, then that has to change.

At the moment, there’s a case for saying that, although he’s eye-catching and exciting to watch, he’s as much of a hindrance to Tottenham as he is of benefit to them.

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