What Does Allen Even Do?

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Since the beginning of 2014 nearly everybody in the Liverpool squad has come on leaps and bounds in terms of development and importance within the structure. Jordan Henderson has gone from water carrier to team carrier. Raheem Sterling has gone from wasted talent to one of, if not the brightest spark in English football. Even Simon Mignolet has gone from silent shot stopper to giving the men in front of him a good rollicking or two on a number of occasions.

Allen Do

These are just three of many improvements which have been acknowledged by the management and fans alike, but there is one I feel not everybody from the latter have yet to fully take note of. Amazingly, there are still people out there who are yet to see what Joe Allen brings; whether it be from not watching the game properly, being stubborn in an opinion, or sheer ignorance.

It is a stark contrast to how people view his midfield partner, Jordan Henderson, despite them both carrying out essentially the same tasks in their own styles.

Within the diamond formation, which Brendan Rodgers set his men up in during their impressive victory over Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday afternoon, the two arguably have the most important jobs – Pressing. Joe Allen pressed the ball most frequently last season for the games Anfield Index collected – pressing every 3.2 minutes. If you thought that was impressive he’s pressed the ball 67 times in 163 minutes spent on the pitch so far this season averaging a pressing action every 2.43 minutes thus improving on last year’s numbers albeit it’s only been 3 appearances so far. However only Henderson is better this term averaging a pressing action every 2.25 minutes.

Away from home against this quality of opposition, not allowing them time on the ball is key, stifling the creativity and influence of players like Christian Eriksen and Érik Lamela, players who given time will hurt your defence, to render their attacks useless. They both also protect the full backs and provide cover if they go bombing up field, or pick up players trying to overlap down the wings.

Having great mobility and ability on the ball are also crucial attributes to have in their roles. In the quickest of counter attacks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go from forcing the ball away from an opponent to being in and around the penalty area within a matter of seconds.

The difference between the two I have found is, where as the former Sunderland man is more obvious in what he does on the pitch, Allen is a lot more subtle and intricate. More metronomic, helping things tick over. Rather than being the one who bursts into the area in search of a goal or assist, you’re more likely to see him standing in space or on the edge of the box offering a give and go. It was evident a number of times against Mauricio Pochettino’s men, a good number of times he wasn’t used but at least he was there as an option.

In a summer of bizarre transfer links, Allen to Manchester United was up there with the most random. Watching their opening fixtures so far though the problems are evident; the lack of movement and mobility in the middle, no options for a pass; I’m not saying he would have solved all of their problems but it would have been a step in the right direction for them. Fortunately for us, a rumour is all it was.

Games like Southampton this season and Swansea at home last, also exhibit the qualities the Welshman can bring coming on from the bench. In both games, the Reds midfield was almost non-existent and overrun, however his addition helped to steady the ship and saw Liverpool go on to win.

Despite being 5 foot 6, he is also accomplished at defensive midfield. When he started playing following his £15m move from South Wales, it was there he impressed. Plaudits, rave reviews and Man of the Match awards were thrown at his feet as he gave his new fans a glimpse of what was in store. His new role no doubt is a much better fit for him, but if it came down to it he could easily deputise for Steven Gerrard at the base of the diamond, as he did last campaign in the 4-1 victory over West Ham United spectacularly. Welsh Xavi? More like the Welsh Busquets eh? EH? (*Logs out of Twitter and hides*)

Sure, injuries and the stresses that come with having a very young family taken its toll on the first 18 months of his career on Merseyside, but now we are beginning to see the real Joe Allen. One which is as vital to the system as anybody else, and with game time will get better and better, bear in mind, he is still only 24.

Will he compare to the legendary Spanish midfielder he was compared to in a tongue in cheek fashion? Most likely not. But the thing is he doesn’t need to. Players of lesser quality have remained useful to better teams.

He’s never going to be a world beater, but to say he doesn’t offer anything to this Liverpool squad is simply incorrect.

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  1. When someone asks the question “what does Allen do for the team?” or “what does he offer in end product?” it says more about the person asking the question than it does the player. There have been periods where Allen has played a number of consecutive games for Liverpool, full 90 minute matches that we’ve gotten good results from. He’s not a guaranteed starter like Gerrard or Henderson but he plays often enough to be important. If fans can’t see those games and recognise the contribution he makes then they just need to look harder, or maybe learn a bit more about the game and the kind of tactics Rodgers likes to employ. Allen is extremely important to Liverpool and I don’t see Rodgers ever letting him leave unless we have some influx of top class midfield players.

    • We play 3 Cm in a 4-3-3

      CDM- Gerrard
      Box to Box- Henderson/Lucas

      Allen is a good CM. he can keep things ticking over while the flair players do their thing.

      The problem is that Allen is not consistently creative enough so our attackers have to come deeper to often.

      In time if Alberto/Teixeira/Coutinho become first choice CAM or Lallana takes the spot, Allen will be a Squad player.

      He can play backup CDM as Gerrard gets older and Rodgers seems to be waiting on Rossiter to grow.

      Or He can Play on the sides of the dimond i the big games to not leave us exposed

      Or Play Box to Box when Henderson rests.

      I like the guy, great player in his own way but liverpool’s system demands multiple talents and with Henderson playing is way, we need a more creative force in Midfield.

  2. I just don’t get Joe Allen. He seems to be excused goal scoring responsibilities whilst Henderson was picked out by BR at the start of the season as he needed to improve on. Allen will never split a defence with his passing and in particular to start him in home games when Henderson will always play I find as a negative move. May find his use in away games in Champions League when draws are useful.

  3. At £16 mil Allen is a bit of a luxury a player who’s key role is to pass the ball sideways. For me Allen has a very negative effect on the team,Allen will play more, away from home in the CL as his negativity can be used there. In the premiership use him when your defending a lead away from home or need a draw.

  4. When someone asks the question “what does Allen do for the team?”, I will ask them to go back home, focus and rewatch his gameplay in the match again, purely on his movement and anticipation. After that, come back and discuss again.

  5. tom@ You must not have been watching Allen this season. He has played well in all 3 games. He’s played better than Coutinho who can split a defense with a pass but we haven’t seen that yet, Allen has been consistent. Allen as the article says presses really well because he’s small and nippy, his passing has been good and he doesn’t just go sideways, he’s passed it forward plenty of times and running forward with the ball he’s made a few good ball carrying runs. Allen is still only young and getting better all the time. You can see now he looks like thinks he’s good enough for Liverpool and has the confidence. I think Allen was a good signing and is a useful player. Henderson, Allen and Can are all good young midfielders. Next summer if Liverpool buy another top class midfielder our midfield will be fantastic, just like our strike force with Divock Origi coming in.

  6. I love Allen, and appreciate what he does for the team, but I feel that he is only a stop gap until we can sign a more high profile CM… or until Can is ready to play regular 1st team ball.

    After all of our signings this year, especially if Ballo makes good, midfield and maybe GK (if we dont land Valdes) will be the next logical area to strengthen.

    I could see us looking for a Pogba type of player to take either Joe’s spot or Gerrard’s. Can you imagine a midfield three of Hendo, Pogba, and Can?

    Thats some Fifa ish right there, but my point is that moving forward Joe Allen is our weakest link in midfield. He’ll never be worldclass, although he will get the job done.


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