Frank De Boer has suffered the ignominy of becoming the first Premier League manager to lose the opening four games of a season without scoring a single goal. The humiliating statistic was attached to the Dutchman after his Crystal Palace side was beaten 1-0 by Burnley on Sunday.
After the disappointments of the first three matches and a meeting with club chairman Steve Parish, the Eagles’ latest manager chose to scrap his failing back-three experiment for the trip to Turf Moor. Instead, Yohan Cabaye was handed his first start of the campaign in the heart of a 4-3-3.
Although the changes failed to have the desired effect in terms of a result, they did generate an improved performance from the London club, which Andros Townsend played a significant part of.
The 26-year-old appeared determined to pull his side out of a challenging situation after Chung-Yong Lee gifted the ball to Chris Wood to open the scoring with just three minutes on the clock.
By the end of the contest, Palace would accumulate 23 shots at goal from 65% of possession – many of the chances were created by Townsend’s tireless work.
On 34 minutes, the Englishman provided one of the best individual moments of the match when he turned with the ball and charged upfield at pace. Burnley’s Robert Brady was made to look foolish by a second turn near the half-way line, before desperately fouling his opponent and receiving a deserved yellow card.
Throughout the game, Townsend could be seen looking to get involved anywhere on the pitch. He frequently popped up centrally and was successful in creating space on the edge of the box on a couple of occasions.
With an hour gone, the ex-Newcastle man had completed 8 take-ons from just ten attempts – put into context below:
Andros Townsend completed 8 take-ons in the opening 60 minutes; the same as the entire Burnley team combined.
Trying to make things happen. pic.twitter.com/OWcOzmbbG9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 10, 2017
Whilst Palace were unquestionably wasteful in front of goal (only five of their deluge of shots hit the target) De Boer was still unfortunate to see his side lose again.
If the Dutchman is allowed more time to turn things around, he will be hoping for similar performances from Townsend – who did not deserve to be on the losing side at Turf Moor.
Mamadou Sakho and Wilfried Zaha will undoubtedly improve the team when available, the latter needed back soon to share the burden of creativity that fell almost exclusively on Townsend’s shoulders.