The Townsend Debate - his game minute by minute

Andros Townsend is a player who divides opinion among the Tottenham faithful. The Lennon haters want Townsend to replace Lennon, the Lennon lovers think Townsend isn't up to the required standard for a top 4 Premier League side.

He played against an awful Dinamo Tiblsi team in the Europa League qualifier away from home on Thursday and the 5-0 scoreline tells you all you need to know about the opposition. Now there will be plenty of sites who will a match report and tell you how wonderful Townsend was so I have taken a different approach for you.

I had a critical look at his performance which on the surface caught the eye, but does it stand up to scrutiny?

I'll lay my cards on the table and say I'm not a fan, he has to win me over, however I am seeing things in him that show, with work he could be quite a player. I've looked at his performance last night with my mind on Premier League defences and the way they defend.

The Andros Townsend Debate
The Andros Townsend Debate
Many fans merely look at an individual rather than the team, how it all fits together and the required pieces of jigsaw needed to fill it. A player has to fit a system otherwise the system has to be changed just for him and unless you are a certain Welshman that isn't going to happen. We have to appreciate what we require from a wide man in the Premier League in our system.

We need him to drop back to defend into a 4-5-1 system and break forward either in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Either way we need them to create width to stretch the defence allowing gaps for our midfield runners to arrive late in the penalty area. Our wide men need to be able to beat their full-backs on the outside and cross on the run with little time and space. They also need pace and an ability at times to cut in and shoot or pick a pass.

Our modus operandi on the right is for Walker to play balls inside the full-back for a wide man to run behind or for the wide man to cut inside and allow Walker to overlap, but there again plenty of fans think Walker can't cross a ball.

Townsend was picked to play on the right where my views prior to the game were that he would always cut inside on his left foot, which is fine if you are on the break but not if you have a midfield and defensive wall in front of you or you want late arriving midfielders. Continually cutting inside doesn't suit our system in the Premier League with Soldado as an in the box poacher. Premier League defences will happily usher a wide man inside to a crowded area backing themselves to smother them out.

So let's get on and look at Townsend's game.

First half begins.
2 mins - Ball given away cutting inside to centre of pitch 40 yards from goal.
5 mins - Poor control knocks the ball out for a throw in.
7 mins - In centre of field makes a short pass to Dembele.
8 mins - Cuts into the centre 40 yards from goal ending up in the inside right position.
10 mins - Inside left position plays simple pass back to teammate.
12 mins - Break from corner and runs centrally, not closed down, not tackled and allowed to shoot to score.

For the first 12 minutes every time he has had the ball he has run inside offering no width, then takes an opportunity and scores an eye catching individual goal. Well done, pat on the back. He took it very well but it was made as easy possible for him and he wouldn't be allowed that run without being closed down or tackled in the Premier League. If you think Bale verses Norwich City he had to ride a tackle that tried to bring him down and beat a defender  who closed him down. None the less he did what he had to do and he did it well and at the end of the day that's all you can do.

15 mins - Receives ball and cuts inside towards the middle.
16 mins - Receives ball and cuts inside towards the middle again and stays at centre forward.
17 mins - Goes outside his man for the first time but attempted right footed cross is feeble.
20 mins - He receives the ball 15 yards from goal 5 yards from the centre, loses possession but it bobbles back to him off the defender and he is fouled in a dangerous position.
26 mins - Out wide he plays a simple pass backwards.
30 mins - Central he loses the ball.
31 mins - Cuts inside to centre, simple pass and stays there for the next 2 minutes.

In 31 minutes he has gone outside his man once and run into the centre 8 times. All very predictable and exactly what Premier League defences want, easier to defend against at that level. Whilst he is catching the eye, all he doing is cutting inside and this is the big problem in his game if he is to be played on the right in the Premier League. Ideally he needs to learn what Bobby Charlton did and train himself to use his wrong foot.

33 mins - Out wide he plays a good short ball inside, however he then walks backwards and we are only 22 yards from goal. When the ball breaks free in space, he is not ready for it and can't take advantage of the space available.
34 mins - Out wide good first time flick inside as he is bundled over from behind.
35 mins - He is to be found standing centrally, passes the ball wide 40 yards from goal.
39 mins - Break in play and AVB has a word which hand gestures appear to be saying, get out wide.

At the time I was thinking, indeed hoping AVB was telling him to stay wide. attack on the outside and stop cutting in so much. For the remainder of the half he did just that, staying wide, creating width to stretch the defence and create gaps for others to exploit.

42 mins - Plays a give and go with Naughton (good ball from Naughton) out wide and attacks on the outside, drags back to his left foot and the defender sits on the floor. With all the time in the world a lovely little dink to an unmarked Paulinho arriving. Simple header, goal.

Half time and receiving all the plaudits from Carlisle but brought down to earth by the studio guests who tell us how abysmal the Dinamo Tiblisi defence is. They are but you can only play what is in front of you. He has had a good half but cut inside far too much.

Second half begins.
53 mins - Cuts inside and loses the ball.
56 mins - Edge of own box centrally runs the ball out of play on the left.
57 mins - Attacks his man from wide on the outside, leaves him for dead and simple pull back for Spldado to score.
63 mins - Inside left position edge of box dinks ball over defence for Paulinho overhead kick.
65 mins - Good simple ball inside to teammate.
73 mins - Cuts inside and loses possession.
74 mins - For the second time in the game he runs with the ball in space and there is no tackle on him again, ball bobbles as he shoots and it goes high and wide.
79 mins - Cuts inside low left footed cross comes to nothing.
82 mins - Runs out of defence, cuts inside, pass to Chadli.
83 mins - Attacks full-back and loses possession.
85 mins - Centre forward position misplaced pass.

He did well against the opposition and will certainly play in the return leg at White Hart Lane next Thursday, as for the league, there was far too much cutting inside. His whole game shouts me, me, me. It's all about him having shots, it's almost as if he thinks he is Gareth Bale.

To have any chance of taking Lennon's place he has to extend his game and attack the outside, which he can do on the left of course. If he can learn to do that on the right, then he'll be a player, until that time he'll continue to be an understudy.

To be fair to him when AVB had a word after 39 minutes to tell him stay wide, he did for the rest of the game until the dying minutes and that helped us immensely. His runs were towards goal or out wide generally, rather than the previous right angled runs into the centre of the pitch.

I know I sound very critical but if people want to improve they have to look critically at performances and sometime be harsh and yes I do know you also have to pat on the back. He was Man of the Match and Dawson wasn't far behind as he was carrying Kaboul who was very rusty as isn't ready for a weekend start yet. He is not fit enough and was clumsy on the ball.

If you think of Nacer Chadli's Bale like cross for Soldado's second goal, that is what you are saying you don't want if you want Townsend on the right, he can't play that ball with his right foot. That's the element of his game he needs to learn if on the right, on the left he can play it. previously we have had nobody to tuck this type of cross in, Defoe and Ade are never there for the tap in. Now we have a quality striker who is so the more of these we can play the better. Stop playing them and you are taking a supply line away from our main goalscorer, we can't do that in the Premier League.

Townsend now needs to play the return leg before playing against tougher opposition in the tournament but this was another encouraging performance, there is something to work with and it'll be down to him if he wants to do the work. If he does he could take his game to a whole new level.





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