Module 5 of 13
In Progress

Crystal Palace Playmakers

“I’m here to score a lot of goals. It’s my specialty and that’s what they brought me here to do”


The previous sections used Sergio Aguero and other top Premier Leaague players to show the importance of getting into good positions. Some people may argue it’s easy to score goals like this when you play for Man City, Tottenham or Liverpool.

A good counter argument is that maybe this is why top teams buy these players, and their ability to do this is what makes their teams so dangerous.

A perfect demonstration of this comes from Crystal Palace. We’re going to look at two different players on the same team. By doing this we can remove the argument that one player has better teammates creating better chances, and show how the decision-making of an individual player can be the key difference in their attacking quality.

We’re going to compare Andros Townsend and Wilfred Zaha.

Both players appear in the same system with identical teammates, but their decision-making gives us a prefect example of how this program can help coaches to better understand the effects of the decisions made by their players.

Here we’ve provided a quick comparison of the two, along with their shot maps. Take some time to study them and think about what might happen if Andros Townsend shot from long-range less often.

Here’s a collection of the shots Andros Townsend has taken for Crystal Palace from outside the box. Don’t just watch the video, but instead try to see what his other options are at the time of shooting.

Here’s some things to think about when watching these clips….

  • What would happen if he wasn’t constantly thinking of shooting?
  • How would he change his body shape?
  • Would he receive the ball differently, opening up passing options?
  • How many players are between him and the goal?
  • How realistic is it these shots beat the goalkeeper?

It’s also important to consider the negative effects these shots have on Crystal Palace. When Townsend shoots from distance and fails to score, the team loses the opportunity to work the ball into a better position for a more dangerous shot on goal.

But what else might happen? Take a look at this clip in this Premier League game vs Man City. Not only do Crystal Palace lose the opportunity to score, they also become more vulnerable when a blocked shot results in a counter attack.

Good shot choices don’t just mean we can score more goals, they help to protect our team defensively.

Earlier it was suggested Andros Townsend had other options when shooting from distance. To help us understand these options, we’ve provided some examples.

Pause the video if you need to.

Try to imagine what the rest of the attack might look like if Townsend has passed the ball in the examples we picked out.

What’s striking here is the impact some better decision making could have immediately on Andros Townsend’s game. Technical improvements like first touch, dribbling, and finishing can take a long time.

With some proactive video work, bespoke training exercises and better awareness of this issue in his game, Townsend could make huge improvements very quickly. We’ll see an example of this soon when comparing him to Wilfred Zaha.

And this is a fundamental part of our Individual Development & Analysis course which you can find out about here

At the beginning of this section we mentioned some people may argue it’s easier to score goals for Man City because they create better chances. The final video will show two very similar situations side-by-side.

See how Townsend’s decision to shoot effects the game, and how much more dangerous the situations for Man City are vs the shots from Townsend.

There’s no doubt that Man City create better chances than Crystal Palace, but maybe that is partly because their players patiently create better opportunities instead of shooting from long range.

What can we take away from this section?

Andros Townsend often chooses to shoot from long range and under pressure

He often has better options to pass or dribble into space

Not only do Palace lose the chance to create better opportunities, often these shots result in counter-attacks


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