Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend proved costly against Arsenal as it ended all square at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Alexandre Lacazette came close to breaking the deadlock before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced a fine save from Vicente Guaita.
But Roy Hodgson’s side dug deep and held firm against Arsenal to secure a point at a ground where Chelsea and Newcastle have previously come unstuck.
Having endured a torrid night at Molineux last time out, where they lost 1-0 to Wolves after Adama Traore scored his first goal of the season, it looked like Hodgson’s side hadn’t shaken off the hangover from the FA Cup when Aubameyang evaded Townsend to cut inside from the left flank and fire off a shot on target.
While Tyrick Mitchell may receive a portion of the blame for the early lapse in concentration, it would be wrong to pin the blame solely on the 21-year-old, who otherwise enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular, performance on the left-hand side of the back four.
In fact, Mitchell received the joint fourth-highest SofaScore rating out of all his teammates, including midfielder James McArthur. Despite his diminutive stature, the 5 ft 7 in left-back was a colossal at the back for Hodgson’s side – he made one tackle, four clearances and four interceptions, which was more than he is currently averaging per game this season so far, meaning he was a level above his average work rate in terms of his defensive shift.
The same can’t be said for Townsend, who was also utterly wasteful in terms of his possession, as the right winger managed to lose control of the ball ten times despite taking 52 touches throughout the entire 90 minutes.
Indeed, the 29-year-old lost 12 out of his 16 duels overall (75%) on the right wing last night, and was dribbled past five times, which shows that he was run ragged by the likes of Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all evening, with the pair winning the same number of individual battles between them, as per SofaScore.
On top of that, Townsend took one shot off target to sum up his frustrations after he blasted a shot well over the bar inside the first ten minutes of the first half following a promising passage of play, so it’s perhaps hardly surprising he failed to find the back of the net for the 16th game in a row this season. He also only managed to produce one accurate long ball from four attempts, which just goes to show the kind of quality Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha had to work with on the night. It’s fair to say that he lacked any real ambition and looked fairly sloppy on the ball.
The former England international didn’t take too kindly to Arteta’s tackle whilst he also intervened to separate Zaha and David Luiz, but those were his only real contributions of note as he endured a night to forget at the Emirates.
SofaScore graded Townsend as the worst Palace player on the pitch with his 6.5 score and quite rightly, too, after his lack of genuine quality in the final third proved costly as the two sides were forced to settle for a point apiece.
The Independent’s Karl Matchett was left unimpressed by his performance and noted he was ‘a hard-running but peripheral figure.’
The £8.5m-rated right winger, who earns around £55,000-per-week at Selhurst Park, was largely ineffective against an Arsenal side who otherwise struggled to break down the well-drilled visitors. He failed to record a shot on target for the second time in as many games in all competitions this season, via SofaScore.
Had he decided against lashing a hopeful shot into the stands, the score line may have read very differently indeed, as he could have created a chance for either Benteke or Zaha instead.
AND in other news, Crystal Palace shouldn’t renew Nathaniel Clyne’s contract…