In Focus: Townsend enjoying sweet success at Toffees
Who would have predicted that Andros Townsend would turn out to be one of the signings of the summer?
The 30-year-old joined Everton on a free transfer from Crystal Palace in July, with his arrival generating little excitement among the Goodison Park faithful.
But the winger has arguably been the Merseysiders’ player of the season so far, helping Rafael Benitez’s outfit secure an admirable 14 points from their first seven games.
Everton will look to make it four home wins from four when they host West Ham this afternoon — and Townsend will be going in search of his fourth league goal of the campaign.
We put the in-form Toffees man under the microscope ahead of today's contest.
The end of an era
At five years, it was a relatively short era, but Townsend did turn out 185 times for Crystal Palace.
Moments like his sensational volley at Manchester City in 2018 — for which he won the Premier League’s Goal of the Season award — will no doubt live long in the memory for Eagles' supporters.
Yet it did look as though his career might be on the wane by the time he finally left South London.
Everton clearly thought otherwise, though, and a whole new era may just have begun for the former England star.
Reunited with Rafa
Townsend enjoyed a short but impressive spell under Benitez at Newcastle in 2016 and last month spoke of how linking back up with the Spaniard has benefitted him.
He said: “I’m under a manager now who knows my abilities, who has seen that I can deliver goals, and I think I do have that in me.
“Left foot, right foot, I can shoot, I can get in the box, and I can create chances. I’m pleased I have been able to do that at Everton, and long may that continue!
“Rafa knew I could play higher, he knew I could deliver around the box, and fortunately I have picked up where I left off under him in those few months at Newcastle.”
Impossible to drop
Townsend has started eight of Everton’s nine games in all competitions so far this season, only dropping to the bench for the 2-2 draw at Leeds on the second weekend of the campaign.
Unsurprisingly, he has been deployed in his preferred right-wing role on each occasion — excelling in a variety of systems, with Benitez deploying a mix of 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1 formations.
Townsend is clearly a player who has the full trust of his manager to perform the role required of him — making him one of the first names on the Spaniard's team-sheet.
His indispensability is further underlined by the fact that he has only been substituted twice.
That also reflects the London-born wide man's first-class fitness levels, having rarely been troubled by injury throughout his career.
A purple patch in blue
In less than three months at Everton, Townsend has already reached almost a third of his Crystal Palace goals tally (16).
The 13-cap international has struck in each of his last three games, including netting in the Toffees’ 1-1 draw with Manchester United in their previous league outing.
Add in vital goals in both of Everton's Carabao Cup ties this term against QPR and Huddersfield and Townsend is clearly a man brimming with confidence in front of goal.
He has also maintained his penchant for producing screamers from outside the box, too — unleashing a 25-yard thunderbolt as the Merseysiders came from behind to beat Burnley 3-1 at Goodison Park last month.
Andros the generous
Townsend has also emphasised his all-round contribution by turning provider on three occasions.
All three of his assists have come in the league, where he has created a total of 13 chances for his team-mates so far this term.
In the comeback against Burnley, Townsend showcased his pinpoint crossing ability when he set up Michael Keane for the equaliser.
And that particular attribute could prove even more valuable for Everton once Dominic Calvert-Lewin returns from injury — the England striker was the Toffees' top scorer last term with 21 goals in all competitions, including seven headers in the top flight.
With Townsend’s delivery and Calvert-Lewin’s aerial prowess, Benitez’s well-drilled side are certain to cause plenty more trouble for opposing defences this season.