Among the growing number of reasons for optimism around Liverpool, one of the constants has been the play of Joe Allen in the first few months of his time with the club. Much was made last year of the time needed to settle in and gain familiarity with one's surroundings, but Allen's basically obliterated that argument by becoming Liverpool's most consistent midfielder in a role that's not even his preferred position.
That he's convinced supporters so comprehensively is a credit to just how effective he's been, particularly given the decent level of concern and uncertainty that accompanied his arrival. Dimunitive in physical size and reputation, he wasn't necessarily a player many would have shelled out £15m for. Telling, though, that his price has barely been mentioned since he made his first appearance, and through a challenging first month and a half, sentiment around his performances has been resoundingly positive.
But there's more than the feel-good factor involved, as EPL Index has a comprehensive analysis of the Premier League's leading passers that has the player near the top in a number of categories--second in passing accuracy, minutes per own half pass, own half passing accuracy, attacking half passing accuracy, and final third passing accuracy. The other names involved won't come as a surprise--Mikel Arteta leads more than a few, Santi Cazorla is right there with him, and Yaya Toure and Michael Carrick round out the top five.
Those that have paid close attention won't be surprised to see Allen's name among the league leaders; his activity at both ends of the pitch speaks to his work rate and overall level of involvement, as he's often the first outlet for Pepe Reina or a defender deep in Liverpool's own half, and he's a critical piece of the club's ability to distribute the ball responsibly and accurately in the opposition half.
Early returns are positive, and what makes his start all the more encouraging is the promise of more to come. When Brendan Rodgers met with a number of fansites at the start of September, he asserted that "when you have him further on one he's got another fifty per cent." If that's truly the case, finding Joe Allen's name among the league's best is something we'll be getting used to.