West Ham manager Sam Allardyce raised more than a few eyebrows with his purple prose assessment of Stewart Downing’s contribution in the afterglow of the Irons’ stroll past Queens Park Rangers.
“I don’t think there is anybody playing in midfield that is better than Stewart Downing,” Allardyce told reporters, “He was my man of the match against QPR. The confidence is growing again in Stewart and he’s showing his quality.”
Ranking the former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough man’s contribution above those made by the likes of Angel Di Maria, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva may seem like far-fetched ego massage for the former England international.
Yet the statistics he has churned out in 2013/14 with the ball at his feet do indeed place him shoulder to shoulder with the aforementioned Hollywood types.
The bwin layers go 6/5 about the son of Teesside earning an England recall by June 1 2015 and if he keeps going at this rate then it may be a formality.
When it comes to key passes – those defence-splitting deliveries which create chances for teammates – only Joey Barton (3.3), Di Maria and James Milner (3.2) average more per game than than Downing.
None have started more than four games though – the rejuvenated Boleyn Ground artiste has made the XI in every league game this term.
Meanwhile, providing accurate crosses was undoubtedly the attribute he was bought for and once again he is among the very best in the division in this regard, with only Stoke’s Victor Moses averaging more (3) per appearance than the 30-year-old’s 2.7.
The next highest mean from a player to, like Downing, start all seven games is the 1.7 of Southampton’s Dusan Tadic highlighting the West Ham man’s virtually-unrivalled consistency this season.
Only his average four long-balls hitting the bullseye per game is some way adrift of Barton (5.8), Fabregas (5.3) and Di Maria (4.1).
However, the slight detriment this may do to Allardyce’s insistence is counteracted by the sheer efficiency with which Downing has been plying his trade.
West Ham are hardly known as paragons of possession football and the Irons’ wideman has been gleaning his exploits from only an average of 42.3 passes per game.
Chelsea’s Fabregas on the other hand, is afforded virtually double the opportunity, getting off 81.9 per ninety minutes.
*All statistics via Whoscored.com