West Ham currently boasts the most creative player in the Premier League, Stewart Downing, and his form is a major factor in the club soaring up the table this season.
The 30-year-old midfielder has been a revelation playing in a central-attacking role for Sam Allardyce’s side, scoring goals, claiming assists and generally giving the team a more creative, attacking thrust.
Only Cesc Fabregas (11) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (8) have more assists than the England international this term. Downing has six in total but he has also scored three goals which is a bigger contribution than the other two.
Over the last game though, against Sunderland, Downing (50) finally overtook his playmaking Chelsea rival (49) in the creating chances department which makes him the most creative player in the league, a fantastic feat and contribution to West Ham.
His all-round play has been significant for the Hammers, he has an 85% passing success over the 15 matches so far and has an average of two shots on goal each game.
He also sees out his defensive responsibilities too, which was most conspicuous against his former club, Liverpool, where he man-marked Steven Gerrard out of the match while orchestrating a 3-1 victory.
To put this into perspective, Downing created just 62 chances in 32 matches last term, scoring only one goal and claiming just two assists. If he continues in his current vein of form he is going to blitz those statistics.
This could be the defining campaign of the midfielder’s career and West Ham are set to reap all the benefits. It may have been fortuitous that Allardyce opted to give Downing a central role after his often underwhelming performances on the flanks, but it has worked wonders.
His vision, delivery and awareness is much better utilised in the middle of the park as everything goes through or starts with him. If it wasn’t for the new signings, he could still be lumbered out wide.
Attracting outside interest?
The ex-Liverpool flops performances won’t go unnoticed and if he remains consistent it wouldn’t be a surprise to see club’s coming in with offers for his services at the end of the season.
After his Anfield debacle, though, Downing may fear a similar outcome if he was to join one of the so-called ‘big boys’, whereas by staying at West Ham he can be a central protagonist in their rise in stature.
Allardyce and co must ensure he is tied down for the foreseeable future as he is proving to be a key figure to the team’s current and possibly future success.