Townsend needs to learn that variety is the spice of life

Posted by Dan Fitch

Clive Mason/Getty ImagesSpurs winger Andros Townsend is yet to score this season in the Premier League.

Spurs has 29 shots on goal against Cardiff, so why did it take until injury time for Paulinho to secure victory?

The answer is that most of these shots came from outside the area. Unless you've got Gareth Bale in your side, shots from outside the box don't fly into the net that often.

Tottenham are continually shooting from distance as a product of the team's struggles to break teams down and create chances within the area.

- Crace: AVB again pushes the right buttons
- Match report: Cardiff 0-1 Tottenham

Christian Eriksen has helped in that regard with his work playing behind Roberto Soldado, but there remain issues on the flanks. Spurs are playing with two inverted-wingers. As a result, the team lacks width and this was exacerbated by the absence of Danny Rose.

When Andre Villas-Boas plays two wide players who like to cut inside it makes the team predictable. Every time the wide attackers get the ball, they cut inside on their stronger foot and either play a nondescript sideways ball or have a shot.

Which brings us to Andros Townsend, who is firing in numerable efforts from distance in every game he plays. So far he's yet to score in the Premier League.

It was a bravura performance in Europe that gave Townsend his chance in the team. In the away match against Dinamo Tbilisi, the young winger gave Tottenham the lead after running with the ball from inside his own half before drilling it into the net from outside the area.

The goal was a very good one, but it wasn't the only thing that impressed me about Townsend that day. He also created the second goal when he attacked the full-back, cut inside him and delivered an in-swinging left-footed cross that Paulinho converted.

For the third, Townsend took on his full-back on the outside and pulled the ball back with his right for Soldado to score. It was a performance that highlighted the potential variety in his game.

Since then we've not witnessed much variety from Townsend. Every time he gets the ball he tends to just cut inside and shoot.

It feels like he's trying a bit too hard to do the spectacular to secure his spot in the team. This is understandable when the club signs a player for a record fee that plays in your position.

The irony is that if Townsend wanted to impress the management, he'd probably be much better served delivering decent crosses into the area. Soldado was signed for a reason and it wasn't to stand by and watch, as shots whistled past him from 25 yards.

It reminds me a little of the situation with David Bentley. There was another player who always tried the spectacular, despite the fact that it was the simple things that he did best. Sometimes less is more.

Townsend has got the tools to do it all as a winger. He's strong, fast and can use both feet. When he approaches a defender with the ball they shouldn't have a clue whether he's going to go on the inside or the out. At the moment they know exactly what he's going to do.

Spurs' goal eventually came when Erik Lamela got round the back of the defence and crossed for Paulinho to back-heel home. You might call it classic wing-play.

Following that contribution, AVB could be tempted to give Lamela his full league debut against Chelsea. If he does, I hope that Townsend isn't the player jettisoned.

I'd like to see what contribution he could make from the left and with Lamela also being left-footed the two players could interchange. Such movement is simply not happening at the moment.

Wingers excite a football crowd like no other position because you don't know what the good ones are going to do next. Townsend needs to learn that variety is the spice of life.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.