As the January transfer window opened, discussions around the blogosphere erupted over who should come in, and who should be shipped out. In the latter category, Joe Allen's name was frequently at the top of the list.
The wee midfielder has been fourth or fifth choice all season, predominantly featuring in the cup squad, and has increasingly seemed like surplus requirements.
Well, the 25-year-old Welsh international (and part-time lumberjack?) had a statement game against Stoke City in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal. If he is indeed surplus requirements, he wasn't going to go quietly into the
good cold, rainy night.
Allen bossed the midfield from the first to the 79th minute, when he curiously made way for Christian Benteke. It was a true box-to-box performance, making key interceptions and tackles defensively, and linking up well with the attacking band at the other end of the pitch. And everything in between.
The Red Panda also claimed the completely intentional assist, pinging a brilliant one-touch pass into the feet of Jordon Ibe, who calmly converted. And on a different night, he could have won a penalty after being taken down in the box. Below is a compilation of Allen's excellent performance.