While it was slightly surprising to see Brendan Rodgers leave Steven Gerrard out of the starting eleven yesterday, it wasn't unexpected in the least to see Joe Allen included again. The Welsh midfielder has been one of Liverpool's more consistent midfielders in a season that's seen his cohorts run hot or, most often, cold, and while he's not the flashiest or most physically gifted player in the squad, he quietly provides stability and confidence in a side that's desperately lacking.
Such was the case on Saturday, when he put together another excellent performance. Operating deeper in a central position alongside Lucas, who'd kept his place after impressing against Ludogorets on Wednesday, Allen did a little bit of everything. His passing was typically superb, completing all but two of his passes on the day, and he chipped in without the ball as well, with five interceptions and four successful tackles.
Some will remember the chance he didn't take, unfortunately. After starting an intricate move on the edge of the Stoke penalty area he was in position to give Liverpool the lead, but he couldn't manage to keep his half-volley down enough after Raheem Sterling's bouncing cross found him unmarked near the penalty spot. To focus solely on that would be to dismiss another solid display, and hopefully one that will be replicated plenty more before this season--and his Liverpool career--is over.
Video by LFCTikiTaka