Former Newcastle star Andros Townsend returns to St James’ Park with Crystal Palace this weekend, and recent performances suggest he is now The Eagle’s biggest threat.
The winger spent just five months on Tyneside in 2016, but his performances are still fondly remembered by Toon supporters.
His work-rate, goals and constant drive made him one of the few highlights in what was a miserable season for Newcastle, as despite Townsend’s efforts, they were relegated from the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez and supporters had wanted the Englishman to stay with the club after relegation, but he instead elected to sign with Crystal Palace for the 2016/2017 season.
Townsend is now in his third season with The Eagles, and although a popular figure there too, he’s never quite replicated his Newcastle form.
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But this season has seen the winger begin to replicate some of the striking instincts he showed under Rafa Benitez.
The Palace star has four goals already this season, and recent stats suggest it could soon become his most prolific season yet.
Townsend tipped to star vs. Newcastle
In his last six matches, the winger has taken 15 shots on goal, more than any other Palace player.
This is perhaps surprising given they have Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi in their ranks.
In fact, across the entire league, only five other midfielders have had more shots than Townsend.
He’s averaged a shot every 22.6 minutes in that time, and 1.4 shots in the penalty area per appearance.
His recent increase in form has also helped Palace to win four and draw one of their last six away matches.
That doesn’t bode well for Newcastle, who will be the home team on Saturday.
Thankfully, Palace’s away trip to St James’s Park will be their second away trip in just four days after having played Spurs in mid-week.
But while the rest of the team may lack some fitness, don’t expect Townsend to suffer from any fatigue.
Townsend’s advantage over teammates
Townsend injured his hand against Huddersfield last week, meaning he sat out for most of Palace’s mid-week match versus Spurs.
Roy Hodgson didn’t rest any of his key stars for the London clash, giving Newcastle a fitness advantage on Saturday.
Townsend however played just 11 minutes against his former club Spurs, and will be raring to go against Newcastle this weekend.
Rafa Benitez knows him better than most though, and hopefully he will be able to nullify his threat.