Ahead of Liverpool’s Capital One Cup encounter with Middlesbrough the club are in a spot of disarray following a third league loss of the season in just five games and one player who could make a difference is out injured.
Naturally, Daniel Sturridge’s spell on the sidelines has been a contributing factor to Liverpool’s tumultuous start, given the amount of goals he supplied to the cause last term, but the Reds have Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert to step in.
Rather it’s in midfield, an area where the Reds were so dominant en-route to the runner-up spot in 2013/14, which appears devoid of its trademark tenacity and dynamism, two facets injured Joe Allen possesses above all else.
Injured on duty for Wales, Allen had started the campaign as brightly as he had finished the last.
His second-half introduction inspired a winner against Southampton, before an impressive all-round performance in Liverpool’s only other win so far at Tottenham, was capped off by winning a penalty.
Alongside Jordan Henderson, the Welshman epitomises the high-pressing game which brought so many league points to the Anfield outfit last season.
And although he’s not yet endeared himself to Kopites in quite the same way as Liverpool’s new vice captain, his presence in the squad is greatly missed.
Against West Ham in particular, Liverpool’s abject display was crying out for Allen as Steven Gerrard and Lucas failed to get anywhere near the Irons’ gleeful midfield, who were able to roam the park without any applied pressure.
Despite Rodgers’ protestations that his side were not carrying their skipper, the 34-year-old will have to be rested more often this season on the early evidence.
Last season, from the 15 Premier League games Allen started Liverpool won 10, drew twice and only lost to Manchester City and Chelsea twice.
Already seven points off Chelsea’s early pace, the Red are way out at 25/1 for the title and 17/20 shots for the top four.
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