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
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links