It’s easy to forget that Crystal Palace were involved with a sensational turnaround last season, having lost their first seven league games in a row without scoring a goal. But then they somehow managed to avoid defeat in 71% of their remaining matches. This turn of events was in no small part due to Roy Hodgson. He surprised many by steering them to safety, aided by the return of Wilfried Zaha from injury who had a significant impact in their fortunes, along with Luka Milivojević’s dead ball specialism and Patrick Van Aanholt’s end of season superlatives.
However, there was also another player that made a more under-the-radar contribution which was pivotal for the Eagles as they soared from the relegation zone to 11th. Andros Townsend was a regular starter who was unlucky not to score or assist more. His viability for this season becomes all the more important if like me you have shoehorned Sergio Aguero into your team after his brace in the Community Shield. You will by default need to make up the shortfall by purchasing midfielders or other forwards valued at £6.0m or less in FPL.
For most of his career, Andros Townsend has been somewhat of a journeyman. Despite being on Tottenham’s books for seven years as a professional he spent an incredible nine stints out on loan, rather than wasting time on the bench for the Lilywhites, which massively contributed to him making almost three hundred appearances at club level in ten seasons. He did spend one season at Tottenham as an almost first-team regular but it wasn’t really fruitful in FPL terms, despite showing some flashes of brilliance.
There was a danger that his career would peter out into mediocrity and although he has received no further international caps since 2016 he has been a mainstay for all the Premier League clubs that he has served since leaving Tottenham and hasn’t really been a rotation risk. Even though he only scored twice last season, he has racked up twenty one attacking fantasy returns since August 2016 and there aren’t many other midfielders in FPL of a similar price that can boast a comparable figure.
Looking further at his underlying stats, he played as a de facto centre forward, despite being listed as a midfielder in FPL alongside Wilfried Zaha in their last six league games during which they won four matches and drew two. What’s telling is that Zaha is now reclassified as a striker but not Townsend. There’s no guarantee Townsend will play ‘out of position’ again from Gameweek 1 as Christian Benteke and Alexander Sørloth have been scoring goals in pre-season and will be challenging for that berth, but would Roy Hodgson change a winning formula?
In addition, Andros Townsend had 62 shots on goal last season which was six more than Gabriel Jesus. If he can refine his shooting accuracy, and regardless of whether he plays upfront again or on the wing, I fully expect him to score treble or even quadruple the amount of goals than last season provided Crystal Palace can sustain momentum. Even if Townsend doesn’t score more than half a dozen goals, he will almost certainly carry on assisting. He also has pedigree in taking corners and free kicks which should bode well for him to produce additional goal scoring opportunities.
At 27, Andros Townsend has a wealth of experience as a result of plying his trade in the lower tiers of English football even if he wasn’t a regular first team starter for most of his time in the Premier League. Despite a hiatus in his caps, I don’t think his England career is over. If anything a few good performances with his reasonable upcoming games in August could see him recalled back to the setup at St George’s Park with ease. There is genuinely more to Andros Townsend than his mazy dribbles and simply ‘assisting the assist’. If Crystal Palace can finish where they left off from last season he will be key to their success, as well as your fantasy football team diamond in the rough.