Andros Townsend is adamant that Christian Benteke’s contributions at Crystal Palace are more than just about his goal record.
The Belgian striker missed two good chances to score in the Eagles’ 2-1 defeat at Watford on Sunday – albeit one effort forced an outstanding save from Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Benteke has netted just three times since the beginning of last season and his poor form enforced his exclusion from the Belgium World Cup squad – with the Red Devils reaching the semi-final in Russia.
But Townsend was quick to defend his teammate: “The media focus on his goal record but he has offered a lot and played very well again. With strikers people tend to forget about the performance if they don’t score but Christian was good on Sunday and I’m sure he’ll be good again on Saturday.
“[The Watford game] was a frustrating day for everyone, not just Christian. He played very well again. He had a chance but the keeper made a great save. He worked hard, he won a lot of headers, running the channel and causing all sorts of problems.”
The defeat at Vicarage Road was their second in succession, following the 2-0 reverse at home to Liverpool last Monday.
It means the South Londoners will go into Saturday’s game against Southampton without a point since their opening day win at Fulham, although Palace were unbeaten in six games at the end of last season.
Townsend knows that while results have not quite merited performances, the increased competition in the squad is keeping the current starters on their toes – particularly with a favourable run of games to come.
“We’re optimistic but we know from last season that you can have similar fixtures and end up losing all seven. There’s no easy games whether you’re playing Liverpool or Watford.
“We’ve seen in training already that Max [Meyer], Cheki [Kouyate] and Jordan [Ayew] have fitted in quite well. I’m sure they’ll come in at some stage but the 11 who are in the team at the moment, we’re all playing well.
“Yes in the last two games we’ve not got the result we wanted but everyone’s playing well and it’s great for them to keep us on our toes. The competition in the squad will bring the best out of us.”