"He's five foot six but in terms of a footballer he is seven foot six," said Brendan Rodgers following a man of the match performance by Joe Allen against Manchester City. "He is absolutely immense, his courage to get on the ball, his body work, his football intelligence is fantastic.
"We paid £15million for him and I said when he came in, very quickly that price will double. He will play here for many years and the supporters will love this kid."
A few years back, when most Liverpool fans were still trying to adjust to the idea that Lucas Leiva was a quality midfielder when he didn't make lung-bursting runs into the attacking third or throw himself into reckless last-ditch tackles, Joe Allen might have been a hard sell. Coming off the second half of the 2011-12 season, when Liverpool suffered greatly on the pitch due to Lucas' extended absence, the less explosive but equally valuable skills Allen brings to the side are far easier for most to appreciate.
And against City, Allen was at his best. He didn't misplace a pass until the 52nd minute, and along with Nigel de Jong led the teams in pass completion rate at 93%. He gave up possession less than any other player on the pitch. He led Liverpool with four interceptions. He won the ball in the defensive third seven times, and eleven times overall, more than any of his teammates. He was the only non-striker on either team with a 100% pass completion rate in the defensive third.
He may not have been the most attacking player or the most creative, but he did exactly what was asked of him and exactly what was needed from him—especially following an early injury to Lucas that forced Allen to step up as the primary holding midfielder. He consistently made smart decisions with the ball, even when under immense pressure, and despite his small stature he provided the necessary steel when called upon to assist Liverpool's defence. He controlled the midfield, set the tempo, and provided a solid foundation for everything good Liverpool did. And he made it all look deceptively easy against the defending Premier League champions.
It was, in short, a very good day for Joe Allen.