Prior to Saturday's match with West Brom, we'd barely seen much of Joe Allen in any sort of Liverpool gear. Most of us saw the moving pictures of him taking in the 3-0 win over Gomel in the second leg of the Europa League third qualifying round, but beyond that we hadn't had the chance to see him in any capacity ahead of yesterday's loss. Swansea's refusal to allow him to take part in the Leverkusen friendly combined with international duty for Wales midweek meant that it was anyone's guess as to whether or not he took part against the West Midlands side.
Thankfully he did, as he proved to be one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise miserable afternoon. There wasn't much that Liverpool did well yesterday, particularly in a midfield that featured a terribly off-form Steven Gerrard and a relatively out of sorts Lucas, but the play of Allen in his debut was something that we could take as resoundingly positive.
He was one of the only players in the side to show consistent composure in possession, and while little that he did was flashy, he managed to bring stability at a time when Liverpool desperately needed it. When those around him were conspiring against an approach that demands confidence in possession, he really did do everything that was asked in putting together a very good display.
That's not to overstate his play, as he didn't provide as much defensive cover as some might have expected, and at times he faded from view when Liverpool needed someone to take the reins. To ask that of a 22 year-old debutante is a bit much, however, and a 96% pass completion percentage with only one going astray in the attacking third speaks to just how good a performance the Welsh midfielder produced.
Yesterday we saw that Liverpool aren't even close to there yet, wherever there might be. Based on the early returns, though, it's a good thing they have Joe Allen involved, and we're left to hope that both he and the squad around him continue to move forward.
Video by MrBoywunder via Youtube