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Spotlight: Joe Allen

The Stoke midfielder has found a previously unseen goalscoring touch in recent weeks. What's behind it?

Joe Allen is in fine form.
Joe Allen is in fine form.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Joe Allen has always been though of as more of a holding midfielder. Maybe a box to box guy. Never an advanced creative playmaker. But that's exactly what he's been for Stoke City in the past few weeks. Stoke struggled to begin the season with Allen playing in a deeper role, but Mark Hughes has made some adjustments which include playing two holding midfielders from the group of Charlie Adam, Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron and moving Allen further up the pitch, practically into a no.10 role. Stoke are now on a 5 game unbeaten run and have won 3 on the bounce. In that period, Allen has scored 4 and assisted twice.

As you would expect, Allen has become a far more vital piece of this Stoke team than he was at Liverpool. He has already played more Premier League minutes this season (803) than he did for the entirety of last season at Anfield (736). He's shooting more per game than he has at any point in his career (1.4 shots per game). The same is true for the number of take ons he is attempting as well (1.9 dribbles per game). And he's attempting the most key passes per game of his career as well (1.5 pg). This isn't surprising given that he is being asked to play a more attacking role than he has at any point in his career, but it is worth noting as well that his whoscored rating is by far the highest he has ever achieved (7.57) which suggests he is also playing with greater effectiveness and efficiency.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of things to come for Allen was that Wilfired Bony finally got himself on the scoresheet in game week 10. The big Ivorian has struggled to recapture his best form since arriving at the Britannia Stadium but strikers tend to need the confidence that comes with scoring a goal to really hit stride. Allen got 2 assists on the weekend, both of which were to Bony. If the two of them can continue to dovetail well together then that certainly makes Allen an attractive proposition given his recent propensity for scoring goals, on top of the assists he could provide for his frontman.

Game week 11 pits Stoke against West Ham United who, despite looking a bit better defensively in recent weeks, still are prone to errors at the back and can concede goals as their game week 10 match against Everton proved. The Hammers are still unconvincing at their new London Stadium home and Winston Reid is still missing through suspension. While Xherdan Shaqiri is missing for the Potters, that could mean more of the creative burden falls on Allen, which may help his chances of continuing his run of goals/assists. It also bodes well that Stoke are unbeaten against West Ham in their last 6 Premier League meetings.

Allen also represents a fantastic value buy given his current form: Official has him at just £5.2m. His play has been excellent and Stoke look to be a team that is really finding form with the Welshman at the heart of this renaissance. His play has been key to their attack finally clicking into gear, and if you don't believe me, then maybe you'll believe Mr. Va Va Voom himself. In the first few weeks of the season, Stoke looked a mess and Allen's role wasn't particularly clear. But we've seen him come into his own in recent times and I fully expect Mark Hughes to continue to utilize his countryman in this newfound role. I'm all in on Joe.