Let me start by saying I don’t highly rate Andros Townsend. I think he is a one trick pony. He uses his pace to get past defenders, eventually using a skill move to cut back on his left looking to shoot. It’s too predictable and easy to gameplan against. However, in Tottenham’s match against Swansea yesterday Townsend proved that one trick has some value.
Townsend’s speed gets the team into the attacking third quickly and with this advantage he brings it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve to keep starting on the right wing. Spurs have lacked width on the flanks, and with Aaron Lennon on loan at Everton, Townsend is really the only solution to keep play out wide.
The alternative on the right is Erik Lamela, but the Argentine is still struggling to adjust to the Premier League. Comparing the two from a talent standpoint, Lamela probably comes out on top. Lamela has better vision and delivers a stealthier shot, shown with his rabona goal against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League earlier this season. Unfortunately what Lamela has to offer doesn’t suit Tottenham’s needs at the moment.
When Mauricio Pochettino selects the Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen, and Erik Lamela attacking midfield, the width disappears. All three of these players prefer to operate centrally, using quick touch passing to break down the defense. The attacking capabilities of the team start to suffer when this trio occupies the same space, clogging the midfield up and allowing the defense to hone in and start forcing turnovers. Townsend is necessary to move the ball out to the touchlines and into more dangerous areas. When Tottenham get wide they stretch the opposing back line and give Harry Kane more space to make his runs behind the defense.
Pochettino should keep with Townsend for the rest of the season and even start to consider whether it’s time to pull the plug on the Lamela investment. At age 23, the club could still recover most of the £30million they paid for him if he were to be offloaded. After Eden Hazard sliced apart Tottenham to win Chelsea the League Cup, it became fairly obviously that Spurs are a quality winger away from being competitive with England’s best. If they were to sell Lamela, they could use that money to bring in a winger who has already proven himself in Europe. Although there is a very high chance that Lamela can come good, Spurs I feel are a bold move away from being a legitimate threat in the Premier League.
As for Townsend, a move like this would relegate him to a backup, but he could still have an impact on the team. As a substitute, his speed can provide an added edge at late moments in games. At the same time, Tottenham cannot be overly focused on the future since top 4 is still a small possibility this season. Townsend needs to be focused on proving himself. Pochettino has instilled some faith in him and he’s yet to fully capitalize on it. In these last stretch of games, Townsend needs to effectively utilize his speed and improve the passing aspects of his game. These games are crucial for him and could affect his future at the club, as well as the opportunities he’s given as an English international.