Most Liverpool fans haven’t fully gotten over the final 12 months of Xabi’s Anfield career, going from seemingly being forced out to accommodate that midfield ‘heavy’ weight Gareth Barry, to turning in what was arguably his finest season showcasing just what a ‘huge’ mistake it was to try and replace him with Barry, to eventually leaving for Real Madrid. And let’s face it you would have to go a long way to find a Red who doesn’t want him back such was his influence, talent and bond with the club and its fans.
There are a few who have attempted to fill that Xabi sized hole in the team, from the injured/loaned out Alberto Aquilani who never really got going for or other, to Christian Poulsen who lags behind the Anfield Cat in terms of overall contribution on the field, to Charlie Adam and those £10m set plays that never really got past the first man. They’re all gone now, thankfully.
Step up Joe Allen, now when Brendan Rodgers said that in time people would regard the £15m fee paid to Swansea as a bargain I don’t think any of us expected that to be apparent after only 3 games, 3 games that we have failed to win. In a pretty much unimpressive start to the campaign Joe Allen has been the only player who could really walk off the pitch after all 3 games and be happy with his contribution. He knows Rodgers’ style, he knows how he fits in to that style and he plays his role to near perfection.
Could Joe Allen be the replacement Liverpool have needed since Xabi Alonso left for Madrid in summer 2009? Whilst it might be a bit too early to say yes – despite a positive start, it can’t hurt to take a look at what the stats say. So let’s take a look at Xabi’s stats from his final Season, and compare those to Joe Allens’ from his first season in the top flight.
Firstly, lets take a look at both players defensive contribution.
On the ground both players are very good on the ball, but Allen does put himself about more than Xabi did, finding himself involved in 102 more ground duels whilst dropping only a 2% success difference despite the higher number of duels. In the air is where the big difference is between the two, Allens 5ft 6” frame means he’s never really going to be a huge threat in the air, nor much of a challenge in the air for most but what he lacks in the air he makes up for on the ground, finding himself involved in more duels as we’ve seen but also by attempting more tackles than Xabi with a higher success rate too, averaging a tackle every 26 mins, compared to Xabi’s average of a tackle every 29 mins, and it would also seem that his ability to read the game and react accordingly to sniff out the danger is superior to Xabi making over 30 more interceptions. It is close and both have their strengths and weaknesses but there’s still more to consider.
Next Page: Passing and Goal Attempt Stats compared for Xabi Alonso and Joe Allen