To say that West Ham’s new found playing style and formation has worked is one of the understatements of the year. Furthermore, the new signings in the summer haven’t done too badly either.
Left back Aaron Cresswell looks like he has the ability to cope with the constant pressures of the Premier League, Alex Song has returned to England’s top flight as though he had never left and Diafra Sakho has been banging in the goals that the Hammers had desperately needed. Carl Jenkinson, Enner Valencia and Cheikhou Kouyate have also impressed for the Upton Park outfit.
With Sam Allardyce adopting the attractive style of football that the fans had desperately called for, one player that has felt like a new addition to the squad is midfielder Stewart Downing. Downing’s new-found role playing behind the front two strikers has caught the eye of England gaffer Roy Hodgson, who called up the Middlesbrough born player for the first time since 2012 for the victories against Slovenia and Scotland respectively.
The last thing Big Sam needs is an injury headache, and with Downing sustaining a knee injury on international duty, the former Bolton Wanderers gaffer will be sweating that the in-form player’s setback is not long term. Due to the fact that Downing could potentially be on the treatment table for a large chunk of the rest of 2014, are West Ham guilty of expecting too much from the former Aston Villa player?
Downing was primarily brought to East London to accompany striker Andy Carroll, with Downing’s fantastic crossing ability and Carroll’s prowess in the air offering a sort of match made in heaven. It was not to be the case and after the majority of last season was spent battling against relegation. The Hammers finished in 13th place, something that did not please the Boleyn Ground faithful. Booing the team off after beating Hull City 2-1 last year is a prime example of the Hammers fans discontent.
This season, Downing has not only produced more accurate crosses in the Premier League than any other player, but also has more assists than any other English player. Downing already has more assists than the whole of last season, while also equalling his goal tally.
Without Downing, West Ham would have to resort to club captain Kevin Nolan, who offers very little and is one of the most overrated Premier League players in the division. Once more, Frenchman Morgan Amalfitano lacks the strength to play in the hole, but is still a very intelligent player and a useful asset to the side.
Without Downing, West Ham would not be sitting in sixth place in the table and currently enjoying the Hammers best ever start to a Premier League campaign. His perfectly timed through balls to the likes of Sakho and Valencia is the reason why West Ham are scoring goals at free will.
However, while Downing’s resurgence is one of the stories of the season thus far, teams will soon start figuring West Ham out. If Stewart Downing is to keep impressing, Allardyce should give Downing the freedom to roam so as to make him harder to pick up.