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Despite Stoke enduring another sluggish start to the season,

Joe Allen has sparked a revival for Mark Hughes’ side.

Joe Allen thrives after receiving a lifeline at Stoke CityThe Welsh midfielder scored a late equaliser away at Manchester United at the start of the month, before his brace against Sunderland earned a first league win of the campaign for his side last weekend.

Earning four points in the past two weeks, after two from their first six games, has seen Stoke turn around their season and Allen, playing in an advanced role, has been vital.

Already the 26-year-old has equalled his best Premier League haul for a season, when he managed four goals with Swansea City in 2011-12. It was that campaign which paved the way for the Allen’s big break, as he followed his manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool.

After impressing in South Wales and is a successful summer away with the British Olympics squad, the Welshman was destined to be Rodgers’ man at the centre of the Anfield revolution. A diminutive figure in the middle of the pitch who looks to set the tempo, Rodgers described his £12 million man as the “Welsh Xavi”. It was a title that would stick, but for all the wrong reasons.

Like many sound bites from Rodgers during his time at Liverpool, the “Welsh Xavi” was used to mock both him and his central-midfielder. Allen never settled into his new surroundings. The perfect combination of persistent injuries and a dramatic drop of confidence thwarted any hopes of realising his potential on the big stage with the Reds.

Just 21 league starts in his debut season at Anfield was the most Allen would make in a single campaign at Liverpool and although he was never totally sidelined while at the club, by the time Jurgen Klopp joined last October, the Welshman’s time was up. The German coach was quick to make his mind up on the midfielder despite Allen maintaining a largely good relationship with fans, notably for his impressive work rate.

On the eve of his debut international tournament with Wales, Allen proclaimed that he needed to move in order to get more playing time. In effect, Euro 2016 was a trial for the former Swansea player. He did not disappoint.

Starting all six of Wales’ games in France, the midfielder would prove an integral part of Chris Coleman’s side’s historic run to the semi-finals. With much of the opposition’s attention on Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Allen was given freedom to dictate the tempo from a deep lying position. His form did not go unnoticed, as he was named in the UEFA’s team of the tournament. Former Wales manager Mark Hughes acted quickly.

For many, going from Liverpool to Stoke was seen as a big step down despite the Potters playing some good football to finish ninth in the past three EPL seasons. It does take a bold and brave person to make a change to try and improve their career though. Despite it still being too early to make any sweeping statements, all appears well for him at Stoke.

A smile is back on the face of Allen which as not been seen, at least while on domestic duty, since he was at Swansea four years ago. Perhaps it is the lessened pressure on his shoulders away from Anfield which has galvanised him, or maybe it is his new role. Hughes has played Allen just off the striker for Stoke, a position he would never have been afforded at Liverpool given the quality of forwards at the club. With a license to drive at the goal, Allen is scoring for fun and is one of the in-form players across the Premier League.

During Stoke’s slow start to 2016-17, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Hull City at home. It was the lowest moment of the campaign so far for the Potters as they conceded a last minute goal to be knocked out in front of a dismally low crowd at the Bet365 Stadium.

At the weekend, Hughes takes his side to Hull as things could come full circle. A win would see Stoke move out of the relegation zone, dumping the Tigers into it in the process, and would make it back-to-back wins. Should the Potters claim their first away league win of the campaign, back Allen to be central as his side’s and his own personal revival continues.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Richard Hinman for Outside 90
Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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