Despite the result, Liverpool impressed last weekend against Arsenal, providing clear evidence of their progress this season with a vastly improved performance since the last time they visited the Emirates. And while he didn't necessarily overwhelm anyone, Joe Allen had a part to play in Liverpool's quality, filling in for Jordan Henderson in the midfield and doing about exactly what you'd expect Joe Allen to do--smart passing, patient in possession, a handful of clever runs forward, and not trying to do too much.
That's underwhelming for some, but with Liverpool looking to break rather than dominate in possession, they don't need Allen to be the source of fireworks. They need him to be smart with his passing, patient in possession, make a clever run forward from time to time, and not try to do too much when there's four other players around him that are tasked with taking the match over.
Henderson's visible effort makes his performances more notable, but Allen is just as capable--and probably more technically sound--as his teammate, and Henderson in need of continued recovery and Allen in need of continued minutes, Brendan Rodgers might again opt for the Welshman when Swansea visit Anfield tomorrow:
"Last week it was one where Jordan had quite a heavy cast on his arm after the operation and I also wanted to play Joe. I thought Joe Allen was outstanding. He's a player who goes quietly about his job but he allows the team to keep the ball. I thought the energy he showed in the game was excellent. Jordan has been brilliant when he has played but I just felt that coming off the back of an operation and being in slight pain meant there was the opportunity to give Joe that oxygen to play in the Arsenal game and show his qualities.
"I'm thinking about winning this game on Sunday but I'm also thinking about one or two other games further down the line. It's good to have lots of our players in top form and playing so well. It's a hungry team. We went to the Emirates last weekend and dominated. The speed of our game was exceptional. That shows you that the players are at a really good level. Whoever I play I know is going to be able to really contribute."
The point about options for the run-in is an important one; even with a sizable break between matches for the remainder of the season, it would be nice for Rodgers to finally have choices in his squad selection. The regular starting eleven for most of the past few months has clicked, which is wonderful, but there's little actual choosing that Rodgers has to do. Liverpool's starting eleven has been their best eleven players for most of the season, and beyond those names there's often been little else available due to injury or lack of form.
I'll probably always prefer Jordan Henderson when the choice is between him and...anyone else, but Liverpool do need options, and a fit and on-form Joe Allen provides that.