Should They Stay Or Should They Go? (Part 2)

Should They Stay Or Should They Go? (Part 2)
June 3, 2014 Chris Rowland

Midfield

By Andrew Fanko (TTT Subscriber Arisesirrafa).

OK, on we go to the engine room. I should start by saying that this is the area that improved the most in my opinion during 2013/14, and that is testament to Rodgers’ coaching skills as well as the adaptability of certain players. I thought we needed to buy an outstanding central midfielder last summer, but the only one we did bring in was Luis Alberto, and he’s seen about as much action as the local convent.

In last year’s articles, I classed Coutinho as a forward, but he has played deeper this year and is probably more accurately categorised in midfield. Assaidi will feature under ‘Others’ in the final instalment.

NB: Remember I’m only featuring players who made at least five competitive starts (an appearance of 45 minutes or more) for the Reds’ first team in 2013/2014, so Alberto is mentioned only in despatches under ‘Others’. PPG = points per game when starts; Win% = win percentage when starts; PGDPG = personal goal difference per game – any figure above the team’s average of 1.28 means Liverpool were effectively better balanced when that player was on the pitch, and vice versa.

Joe Allen /Age on 1 September 2014: 24 / Contract expires: 2017

2012/13: Starts: 29 / Sub apps: 8 / PPG: 1.31 / Win%: 34.5% / PGDPG: 0.24 / Goals: 2 / Assists: 0

2013/14: Starts: 17 / Sub apps: 9 / PPG: 2.06 / Win%: 64.7% / PGDPG: 1.30 / Goals: 1 / Assists: 1

Reasons to keep: First of all, Allen has managed to turn around last year’s damning PPG, win% and PGDPG stats, which saw him among the worst performers in the squad. They are not stellar this time around, but at least his inclusion is more consistent with the team’s averages.

The renewed fitness of Lucas and the decision to drop Gerrard deeper meant the Welshman played higher up the pitch on average than he did in 2012/13, and he is undoubtedly more effective in this role. Why? Well, two of the main requirements for playing that role under Rodgers are relentless pressing and efficient passing – both of which feature highly in Allen’s skill set. The pressing in particular is hugely important. Allen may not have the sheer energy and stamina of Henderson, but his excellent football brain tells him when to harry the opponent.

The Welshman’s passing stats are always very impressive. This is predominantly because he favours safe, short passes, but that’s not a bad thing in a team where plenty of others (Coutinho, Gerrard and Suárez, certainly) are willing to take more risks and force the issue.

As well as Allen’s technical qualities (how often do you see him miscontrol the ball?), he does have a degree of flexibility. I said above that he is more suited to a more advanced role in midfield, but he showed in the first few weeks of his Liverpool career that he can perform admirably in the deep-lying position, which will be important if Lucas is moved on.

Reasons to offload: There are sometimes games that pass Allen by. It’s not uncommon to hear fans say “but what does he actually do?”, and that’s because in some games the answer is very little. Since his passing game is naturally cautious, he can look mediocre if we’re chasing a game and he doesn’t happen to be impressing through his interceptions and harrying.

Given that we’ve seen more of the Welshman in an advanced role this season, his goals and assists return really isn’t good enough. I believe it is unlikely that Suárez and Sturridge will score at the same rate next season, and that means we will need more goals from midfield. If Allen isn’t capable of offering that, perhaps we should find someone who can.

Joe Allen

  • Keep (94%, 481 Votes)
  • Sell (5%, 28 Votes)
  • Loan (0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 511

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Verdict: Keep.

Rating: Allen

  • 7 (56%, 262 Votes)
  • 6 (31%, 144 Votes)
  • 8 (9%, 41 Votes)
  • 5 (4%, 18 Votes)
  • 4 (1%, 3 Votes)
  • 3 (0%, 1 Votes)
  • 10 (0%, 1 Votes)
  • 1 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 9 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 470

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It’s been another mixed season for Allen, with several impressive performances later in the campaign offset by quiet and ineffective displays earlier on. The lack of goals and assists is a concern, but he did force good saves in a couple of games late in the season (Norwich away and Chelsea at home) as he increasingly took up threatening positions.

I think Allen is a perfect squad player now we will (hopefully) have 10-15 extra games a season. My preferred midfield three is Gerrard, Henderson and Coutinho, but they won’t be able to play all the time.

Lucas Leiva /Age on 1 September 2014: 27 / Contract expires: 2017

2012/13: Starts: 26 / Sub app: 5 / PPG: 1.96 / Win%: 57.7% / PGDPG: 1 / Goals: 0 / Assists: 0

2013/14: Starts: 22 / Sub app: 7 / PPG: 1.77 / Win%: 54.5% / PGDPG: 0.85 / Goals: 0 / Assists: 0

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