Having often struggled for either form or fitness under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has played some of the best football of his career in the past six months since Jürgen Klopp arrived. Unfortunately for the diminutive shuttler, a packed depth chart has stopped him getting the minutes he probably deserves as a result of his good play.
Still, whatever the future holds for Allen, he’s put in one solid performance after another when he’s been called on. He continued to impress against Stoke City on Sunday, and with captain Jordan Henderson injured, it looks like his hard work and good play will pay off with a deserved start on Thursday against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
"You can’t ask for much more than that," reflected Allen after Sunday’s 4-1 hammering of Stoke City that will have Liverpool feeling confident heading into the decisive second leg of their tie against Dortmund. "It was a great win; a great performance from start to finish. We had a bit of a scare with their equaliser, but in the end we came through that and got four good goals."
Allen had been as solid as ever when called on to replace the injured Henderson at the half against Dortmund last Thursday, but he was even better on Sunday. It led to a standing ovation from the home supporters when he was withdrawn late to give Lucas Leiva a run out as he makes his return from injury, and it would be a shock not to see Allen in the eleven come Thursday.
With Emre Can returning to action after he sat out Sunday’s game due to suspension, it means that Allen will either be playing alongside the young German midfielder in a double-pivot or taking on a more advanced role across from James Milner in a midfield trio with Can at the base. Either way, though, Allen should start—and hopes will be high for a positive result.
"It's difficult when you've got a game between an exciting tie like ours, but we wanted to focus on today and make sure we didn't have one eye on that game," Allen added. "Now we can turn our attentions to what will be a massive game on Thursday. It's a stellar tie against a very tough team, but we went out there and gave a good account of ourselves and got a good result.
"The onus is on them now to come to Anfield, and it certainly won't be easy for them."