West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has heaped more praise on the reinvigorated Stewart Downing by claiming he is the best midfielder in the Premier league based on current form.
Nobody would argue that the 30-year-old has made a stunning start to the new season, playing in a new role at the tip of a midfield diamond where he has had a major impact on proceedings.
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Downing had a key role in the Hammers 2-0 victory over QPR on Sunday and has been one of the stand-out performers in the club’s rise to seventh in the league table.
It’s only seven games in to the season but the form of the ex-Liverpool winger has got his manager excited and already making bold statements over his quality.
"I don't think there is anybody playing in midfield that is better than Stewart Downing," Allardyce said on BBC Sport.
"He was my man of the match against QPR. The confidence is growing again in Stewart and he's showing his quality."
Following his £5million move from Anfield last year Downing struggled to really shine in east London; however Allardyce kept faith in the midfielder and has now found him the perfect role in the side.
Playing more centrally Downing sees a lot more of the ball and averages over 60 touches per match. He has also claimed three assists, one goal and boasts a passing accuracy of 82%. Furthermore, he attempts to penetrate the attacking zone with 40% of his total passes and completes a key pass or creates a goal-scoring opportunity once every 28 minutes.
While these stats are mightily impressive and underlines his usefulness to West Ham in forward positions this season, Allardyce may be getting slightly ahead of himself with the statement that he is the best in the league, although on current form he isn’t far off.
Only Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas (7) and Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson (6) have more assists than Downing this season.
The midfielder is level with a host of players in that department, including Angel Di Maria (3), but falls behind the Argentine starlet in terms of goalscoring, with two less than the Manchester United man.
However in his new role Downing is proving to be one of the most influential for his team and he is bound to get more chances to breach the heart of opposition defences with his cutting passes, surging runs and lethal shots from distance.
He may not be the best in the league individually but in comparison with his form in the last campaign, you can see why Allardyce is so excited.
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