Townsend's got talent to make grade

Andros Townsend's superb statistics while at QPR mark him out as a player to watch for England Under-21s, writes WhoScored's Ali Tweedale.

Last Updated: 16/05/13 at 12:05 Post Comment   

Andros Townsend: Bright spark for QPR

Andros Townsend: Bright spark for QPR

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The form of Andros Townsend at Queens Park Rangers has won him a place in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad for next month's European U21 Championship in Israel, whilst also drawing questioning glances from the Tottenham faithful as to why he was ever allowed to go out on loan in the first place.

He has been by far the Hoops' best player since the turn of the year, recording an average rating of 7.45 from WhoScored.com, which is only bettered by 13 players with at least 10 Premier League appearances in 2013. That is something of a feat whilst playing for a team that have barely threatened even to temporarily make it out of the relegation zone.

Townsend was largely responsible for whatever optimism there might have been at Loftus Road over a great escape, with a couple of outstanding strikes from range as well as time and again worrying the opposition with the ball at his feet. Only Gareth Bale (six), Yohan Cabaye and Lukas Podolski (both three) have scored more Premier League goals in 2013 from outside the penalty area than Townsend, whilst the on-loan youngster has also successfully dribbled past an opponent more times this year (48) than any other player in the whole league.

Not only is his tally at least 10 more than anyone else has managed - ahead of Adel Taarabt on 38 - it is yet more impressive that Townsend has done so in only 11 appearances, while every other player that has completed 30 or more successful dribbles has done so in at least 14 games.

So, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now deemed a senior England player and thus set to add to his international caps in the upcoming friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, Townsend represents one of the next batch of English wingers to break through.

Along with Wigan's Callum McManaman (providing he is fit to play), Blackpool's Tom Ince and Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha, England U21s will have plenty of attacking options at the upcoming tournament, as well as a number of exciting prospects for the future. With that much creativity in their ranks, there is reason to believe the Young Lions can do well in the competition, and Townsend looks likely to play a part.

QPR are not a free-scoring side but they do score more with the winger in their team. They have scored only once - a penalty - in their four games played since their relegation to the Championship was confirmed, and they have arguably given up since that date. Prior to that though, they scored nine times in seven Premier League matches with Townsend starting, including the only game in which they scored more than twice all season (3-1 at home to Sunderland), when he netted one and assisted another.

Compare their tally of 10 goals in the 11 games that Townsend has played a part in to their 20 goals in the other 26 matches, and we start to see what a difference he makes. Furthermore, in the games he has played in, the R's averaged 13.8 shots per game, while only having 12.9 attempts per game without him. Neither marks a huge difference, granted, but it's a difference at least and one that could well have aided their relegation fight had they had him all season. Townsend has added a new element to QPR's play and a new attacking dimension which will certainly be of use to Pearce at the U21 Euros.

As can be seen on his WhoScored.com player page, whilst dribbling and long shots naturally make up his two main strengths, he also stands out for his defensive contribution. Keen to impress at the top level, maybe this is hardly surprising and the least we should expect of him, but three tackles and 1.1 interceptions per appearance still make up a valuable side to his game.

On the other side of the coin though, there are always going to be elements to his game that a young player needs to focus on improving. With a 78.6% pass success rate at QPR, there is work to be done in that regard. It is only natural though, that a young player wanting to catch the eye of potential suitors as well as his parent club, may look for the killer pass a little too early and a little too often. With time and experience, he will learn to keep a cool head in such situations.

Meanwhile, his ambition to drive forwards with the ball sees him tackled as many as five times per appearance, while he also loses possession due to a poor first touch 2.1 times per game. This, as well as misplacing more than two in every 10 passes he attempts, makes him a frustrating player to have in your ranks.

With the goals he is capable of, however, he is undoubtedly an incredible talent, and will be good to watch over the summer at the European U21 Championship, while Spurs would be mad not to to snatch him back at the earliest opportunity they can.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

Follow Ali Tweedale on Twitter at @alitweedale.

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