Stewart Downing 300
THERE are few clubs on earth where the spotlight shines as brightly as it does at Liverpool FC.
For English football’s most decorated club, the idea of failure is not one to be entertained. Success is very much a part of the Anfield furniture.
Stewart Downing was already aware of that well before his £20m summer switch from Aston Villa, but recent weeks will have provided a gentle reminder to the England international; when Anfield demands, its players deliver.
On Sunday, Downing will make his first return to Villa Park since leaving the club. He may be the club’s Player of the Year, but he can expect a mixed reception from Villa supporters still smarting at his defection.
The Liverpool supporters, of course, will be rather more accommodating, though Downing is still to show his best form in a red shirt this season.
He got the winning goal for Villa in this fixture last season, but is yet to register a goal or assist for his new club.
It is not for the want of trying; he has hit the woodwork three times, more than any of his Anfield team-mates.
Not that his manager is too concerned, in any case.
“Stewart has made plenty of chances for us,” says Kenny Dalglish. “And he has had a few opportunities himself, which he has been unfortunate with.
“But if we had taken a greater percentage of our chances, or if luck had been more kind to us, then everybody’s stats would be better.
“Our points tally would be better, our goals-for would be better, and individual stats would be better.
“Stewart has made a huge contribution to the fact we have hit the post 16 times and created so many chances and shots at goal.
“When they start going in everyone's stats will improve.”