Will Joe Allen have his most successful season in English football at Stoke?
Stoke’s recent upturn in form is due in no small part to Joe Allen. The Welshman has scored four goals in his last three Premier League games and, thanks to him, Stoke stopped a run of four consecutive defeats.
The Potters’ last three results, 1-1 draws with West Brom and Man United as well as their first win of the season against Sunderland, have given fans hope after a dismal start to the season. They also recorded their first clean sheet of the season with victory over Sunderland after conceding 16 goals in seven games.
Joe Allen arrived from Liverpool in July for £13 million after making just eight league starts for the Reds in 2015/16. He wanted to be playing regular football and when this wasn’t happening at Liverpool, he decided it was best to leave.
Allen was named in the Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament after his exploits with Wales. who were knocked out by Portugal in the semi-finals. He played every game for Wales during the tournament and recently scored his first goal for his country in Wales’ 4-0 win over Moldova in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier and then followed this up with another goal against Austria. Allen feels that the added game time he is getting at Stoke will improve his performances at international level as well, something that is already becoming clear.
Before this season, the last time Joe Allen scored four Premier League goals was during his final season in Swansea in 2011/12. He scored four Premier League goals in four seasons at Liverpool. Allen has made seven starts so far this season and is benefiting from playing in a more attacking role which has improved his finishing.
After the game against Sunderland on Saturday, Stoke boss and fellow Welshman Mark Hughes said of Allen: ‘He is an exceptional player at this level but I didn’t realise we had a goal scoring midfielder. He’s a leader as well. He’s taken on the mantle. We have not demanded it. Players look at him to get on the ball, then the team follow you and you become an important part of it. Maybe at Liverpool he didn’t have that feeling. It was outstanding for us to bring him here and he’s been a breath of fresh air on and off the pitch. You have to say he’s a bargain.’
The midfielder has never scored 10 goals in a Premier League season but this could be the first time. Joe is enjoying his football again, playing on a weekly basis and he is an integral part of the team. That confidence should spur him on to be at his best. Stoke’s next three games are against Hull City, Swansea City and West Ham. None of these games are going to be easy, not many games are in the Premier League, but with Joe Allen full of belief in his own abilities and Stoke finally getting their first win of the season, they could go on a winning run and finally get out of the bottom three.
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