Not much has gone right for Joe Allen over the past few months. After arriving at Liverpool over the summer for £15M and putting in a string of early-season performances that went a long way towards justifying his price tag, the burden of covering for the injured Lucas Leiva in the end proved too much and the player visibly tired heading into November and December.
Soon, Jordan Henderson had taken his spot in the starting eleven, and in the occasional cameos that were soon all that was left to Allen his poor form rarely showed signs of improving. On Thursday against Zenit, though, with Liverpool pushing to overcome a two goal deficit from the first leg of their Europa League tie, fans finally saw another glimpse of the player who started the season so promisingly.
Despite a much improved performance by Allen, though, with the diminutive midfielder completing a team-leading 92% of his 38 passes while taking up more advanced positions than has often been the case this season, Liverpool were unable to entirely overcome their deficit. And it's that more than anything else that Allen was concerned with following the match.
"It's extremely disappointing," said Allen. "To win the second leg 3-1 and not go through is pretty hard to take. The scoreline showed how much effort we put into the game. With a bit of luck we would have got through.
"I don't think it was lost in the first leg. Of course losing 2-0 made it difficult for us but we still had a chance. After conceding an early goal tonight we showed tremendous spirit and determination to get ourselves into a position where we could have gone through."
While the night may have ended in disappointment for Allen even with something of a return to his early-season form, he insists there are positives to take away from Liverpool's performance against Zenit—and that there's still plenty left to play for over the final few months of the season, even if the top four seems out of reach.
"We couldn't have asked for any more from the fans. They made such a difference. When you've got support as strong as that in that kind of environment it really gives you a lift. It helped us to almost get there. It's hard to look at the positives at the moment but the intensity of our play, and the will and determination to get through, was evident.
"There might not be a trophy to play for now but there's still plenty for us as a football club to play for. We need to get as high as we can in the Premier League."
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