Stewart Downing is 'a different player now' says Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard

Midfielder scored equaliser against Spurs at the weekend

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes team-mate Stewart Downing is a different player from earlier in the season and is finally showing his true quality.

The England winger scored for the second successive match in the 3-2 win over Tottenham, incredibly achieving the feat for the first time since back-to-back goals for Middlesbrough in October 2004.

He took his tally to five for the season, and while he is unlikely to eclipse his best goalscoring campaign of 10 in 2007-08 for Boro, he is closing in on the eight he got in his final season at Aston Villa before his £20million move to Anfield.

It is a remarkable turnaround for a player who, having struggled to hold down a regular first-team place, was told in December by manager Brendan Rodgers he could leave if the right offer came in.

"He's a different player now. Now we're seeing Stewart Downing the England international and why he has got all those caps," said Gerrard, who praised the 28-year-old's all-round contribution.

"What is impressing me the most about Stewart at the moment is the work he's doing for the team without the ball - sliding tackles, his double-marking with Glen Johnson and his effort.

"The stats that go up on the board after every game underline that.

"He's a different player and if he can keep producing those type of performances then it will be money well spent

"If he keeps to that level of consistency he can make that position in the team his own."

Downing felt the victory, rather than his goal, was significant as Liverpool beat a side in the top four for the first time this season.

It allowed them to move into sixth and close the gap to Champions League qualification to seven points with nine matches remaining.

"Earlier in the season we would probably have lost the game," Downing told liverpoolfc.com.

"But great credit to the lads, we kept going and the fans were right behind us.

"I'd say it was probably one of the best wins of the season.

"A lot of people have been saying we can't beat teams in the top five or six - that's out of the way now. Hopefully that will kick us on.

"It was nice for me to get a goal. There's no hiding from the fact that I struggled for goals last season, but this season I'm in among them and hopefully I can get plenty more. There's plenty of games to go to get the tally up.

"I'm full of confidence, even without the goals, playing in a good team and playing well gives confidence.

"The manager has got options now - if people are having an off-day they can always put someone on and they're liable to get a goal."

While Gerrard credited Downing's goal - to make it 2-2 - for the turnaround which allowed Liverpool to win three successive league matches for the first time since May 2011, the Reds' key player remained Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay international scored his 21st Premier League goal, 29th of the season and his 50th for Liverpool in his 91st match for the club.

It appears to be a three-way race for player of the year between him, yesterday's opponent Gareth Bale and Manchester United's Robin van Persie.

But for Gerrard there should be only one winner.

"We've got a player who is equally as good as him (Bale) in Luis Suarez," the 32-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I think Luis may just pip him to Player of the Year, in my opinion.

"He's been incredible. It's hard to put into words how good he's been.

"He's been doing that for us all season. Before the (summer transfer) deadline we never got that centre-forward and he's almost carried us on his own at times, because he was the only forward we had.

"He's top scorer in the league now. If he doesn't win an award this year, he'll be the best player ever not to win an award."

PA

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home