The Unrelenting Cult of Joe Allen
At Liverpool Allen gained a following for his chickens, beard and Pirlo like appearance, he was a fringe player in the squad and his fan following reflected this. With his move to Stoke all has changed for Allen, as he has now moved to full ‘God’ status with the ground he walks on being worshiped by every fan. The only silver lining in the great black cumulonimbus that is Stoke’s season, Allen appears to have united the fan base behind a player for the first time since Ricardo Fuller. This begs one question “just how good is Joe Allen?”
His play style is the first area that answers the above question with a loud and sassy “damn good”. Probably the most damning stat from last season was that cumulatively Stoke covered the second least ground of all teams in the league, only above that awful Aston Villa side. Allen has taken this stat, crumpled it into a ball and then dribbled it down the road to the nearest recycling centre. You only have to look at his heatmap from this weekend’s match with West Brom to see how Joe was well and truly everywhere. Allen has provided a slow and immobile team with the desire to chase down every single lost cause, and it is this that the fans truly support.
So statistically what sticks out? Well everything. Personally Allen’s headers stick out, with Joe already having won 8 aerial duels, for a man who stands at 5’5 this is a phenomenal effort. Further to this Allen is currently dominant in Premier League midfielders, beating other high profile players in statistics that they have formerly dominated. As you can see below Allen is leading Kante, Pogba, Capoue and Fernandinho in key areas. Allen is sliding under the radar, as most Stoke players do, but his effect and importance to the team cannot be emphasised enough.
The final element of Allen is his personality, he seems to be adored by just about everyone. That totally innocent grin and humble attitude (displayed in the Charlie Adam video blog) has endeared him to fans. The audible confusion at Shawcross being announced MOTM against West Brom showed just how pleased the Potters fan base is with their new signing.
Listening to Mark Hughes’ thoughts on his fellow countryman, Allen, in the press it is clear that Sparky thinks very highly of his box to box midfielder. Finally Allen appears to have linked in fantastically with the squad. Just from the celebration of his goal, you can see that the squad are jubilant that Allen has scored, Arnautovic appeared to transcend this into some mad fit of rage that showed that raw passion the Austrian has for the club. With his role being to link with almost all other players on the pitch, it is essential and beneficial that Allen has such a good relationship with the squad.
So in answer to the question posed earlier, Joe Allen is as good as it gets. In the currently inflated Premier League market, 13 million for such a quality player should be considered the biggest of ‘bargains’. With Stoke needing a catalyst to spark revival, Allen is moving himself into a position to be the hero of Sparky’s new regime, and it appears that should everyone click around Joe, Stoke will finally be able to get that first win.
So Stokies are you as enamoured with Joe Allen as the rest of the fans seem to be? Has there been a stronger fan favourite of late? Let me know in the comments or @ me on Twitter.
Written by Tom Thrower
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