Impressive Allen must prove he can be a Liverpool starter
27th January 2016

The sight of Joe Allen stepping up to take the decisive penalty in the League Cup shoot-out win over Stoke would have sent the heart rate of even most calmest of Liverpool supporters racing.

The Welsh star is only now starting to generate positive vibes from the Anfield faithful after a difficult three seasons on Merseyside. A no-look assist in the first leg was part of the endearment process with the last-ditch equaliser against Arsenal a stamp of approval, of sorts.

Dubbed the ‘Welsh Pirlo’, Allen has been linked with a return to his old club, Swansea, but if ever there was player putting a case forward to remain a Red, it is the diminutive midfielder.

26th January 2016 - Capital One Cup - Semi-Final (2nd Leg) - Liverpool v Stoke City - Joe Allen of Liverpool scores the winning penalty in the shoot-out - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Allen scores the winning penalty in the shoot-out to take Liverpool to the Capital One Cup final.

When the much-maligned Simon Mignolet dived to his left to keep out Marc Muniesa’s penalty, the stage was set for Allen. Not only did he deliver, he did so with aplomb. The winning penalty, the 11th successful kick of the evening, fired into the top left corner left the impressive Jack Butland kicking his heels in frustration.

Redemption has arrived for Allen. While his coolness for the penalty will etch him into folklore, his performance after coming on for Kolo Toure should grab more headlines.

Allen was clever in his passing, cool in his temperament and clever in his game management, taking a booking for the team as Stoke broke late on. If there is a bar below under-rated and under-stated, he appears to have found it.

Such is his role and indeed footballing intelligence his work is often missed by fans, this one included. You see the physical size, you see the side-ways passes and you groan. What you are seeing now is the passion required to prove your worth.

There is no doubt that should Allen leave Liverpool he will have blown his chance at a big club, and he appears determined to keep hold of that opportunity as long as possible.

Injuries and loss of form have not helped his career. Comparisons to Xavi on his arrival at Liverpool almost certainly did not. But much like Jordan Henderson earlier in his Reds career, Allen is holding on and proving his worth.

January 2016 will go down as a big month for Allen. The month he finally showed Liverpool fans he was up for the job. The next task is to show that he can do it in the starting XI. His contributions in the Arsenal and Stoke games have come from the bench.

Being an impact player and being an integral part of the starting XI are two very different things. The job for Allen over the final five months of the season are to bridge that gap and show he can be the man for Jurgen Klopp.

Klopp praises Jon Flanagan after Stoke win…

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