There weren't a lot of great performances yesterday for Tottenham Hotspur against Aston Villa. It was more of a good team performance (particularly the last 60 minutes), but one player stood out above everyone else: Andros Townsend. For much of the first half Townsend looked about as lost as everyone else in the Spurs squad, but then he scored and from there on he was almost unstoppable.
Let's talk about the goal for a second. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here it is:
Look, that goal is kind of flukey. I'm not trying to take anything away from Townsend, but that's almost definitely a cross and not a shot. He's had much better shots than that. Guzan was just anticipating a shot from Lewis Holtby or Roberto Soldao back across goal and when neither connected he was caught off balance. Still though, credit where credit is due, Townsend finally broke his duck and the goal was important because it gave Spurs an early lead.
It was following the goal that Townsend really looked sharp. Townsend made three key passes in the game, tied for the team lead with Roberto Soldado, and had 4 accurate crosses (out of 10). I have a theory about why he doesn't have more accurate crosses, but that a discussion for another time. He could have had an assist if Paulinho had manage to get on the end of a dangerous far post cross, but the Brazilian missed his header by inches.
Late in the second half, when Villa switched to a 4-3-1-2 formation, thereby leaving Antonio Luna on his own against Townsend, the Spurs winger began to run rampant. He completed 5 successful dribbles and was often the major outlet for some very dangerous counterattacks. His direct style, as many have said, was a huge asset when playing on the counter and his speed and willingness to run at the opposing fullback brought lots of success.
I've been hard on Townsend before and while I'm still not sold on him as Spurs permanent right winger, if he continues to play like this I can't see him being dropped. The last 60 minutes of this match were the best I've seen Townsend look in a Spurs shirt. If he can find a way to integrate himself into Spurs' possession game as effectively as he did when playing on the counter, then Townsend can be an even more dangerous player than he already is.