Joe Allen picked up his second man of the match award of the season in Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday. Whilst that might be damning him with faint praise (the “best of a bad bunch”, and all that) after a poor showing by Liverpool, there is no denying that he has settled instantly as the indispensable heart of the Reds’ midfield.
Using EPLIndex’s Top Stats function, I have looked at where in the league Allen currently ranks on a number of key stats for midfielders. As it’s early days for the 2012/13 campaign, I have restricted the comparison to those players that have played all 270 minutes so far.
At present, Joe Allen is ranked:
- 6th in the Premier League for total number of passes (188);
- 3rd for attacking half passing accuracy (89.52%), and final third passing accuracy (85.71%);
- 3rd for minutes per interception (27);
- 3rd for number of times possession won (26);
- 2nd for minutes per possession won in midfield (19.29);
- 2nd for minutes per loss of possession (15);
- 2nd for passing accuracy (94.15%).
Granted these numbers are from small samples, but at the same time you have to remember that Allen is a 22-year-old who has left the club he has been at since the age of nine to go to play for the five times champions of Europe; you only have to look at some of the Anfield recruits from last summer (namely Downing and Henderson) for examples of where the weight of expectation on the Red half of Merseyside has inhibited talented players from displaying their best form after joining Liverpool.
Yet the added pressure doesn’t seem to have affected Allen at all, and it should also be noted that he has recorded these figures when two of the three matches have been against teams who finished in the top three last season. He has also performed well in spite of the fact that most of his colleagues have failed to match his level in the opening three games of 2012/13.
If Brendan Rodgers is to succeed at Anfield, he will almost certainly owe a big debt of gratitude to Joe Allen; the former Swansea manager put his faith in the young Welshman by making him his most expensive signing, and Allen has begun to repay that immediately with assured performances in the centre of the park.
It’s early days, but Liverpool appear to have potentially solved any issues regarding the centre of their midfield for anything up to the next decade with the acquisition of Allen. With time on his side, he can only improve, and may top the above rankings in years to come. For £15m, he is undoubtedly a bargain already.