Downing: Hammers can end long wait for Anfield win

Stewart Downing has told FFT how a change of mentality means West Ham are confident of doing the league double over Liverpool.

Having finished 13th last season, the new-look Hammers currently sit in seventh spot and are in direct competition with the Reds for a European place.

And Downing, involved in 12 of West Ham's league goals this season and creator of 60 chances, is only after one thing on his return to Anfield.

Everyone at the club is confident of finishing near the top. The mentality has totally changed and that confidence has come from winning games

"We go there to win, we won’t set up to draw or take a 1-0 loss – whatever people say. We go there to win," the 30-year-old exclusively told FourFourTwo.

"We’ve got a really good squad and the competition for places is really high. Right now we thinking, ‘Yes, we can go to Liverpool and win.’

"We beat them earlier in the season and there’s a bit of a rivalry between the two clubs at the moment because we’re both competing for a European place. They’re just one point behind us so this is a massive game if we can put a bit of space between Liverpool and us.

"All the games are important at the moment because we’re playing teams in and around us. Anfield is always a tough place to go and they’ve had some good results of late, but hopefully we can do the double over them.

"Everyone at the club is confident of finishing near the top. The mentality has totally changed and that confidence has come from winning games."

Indeed, Sam Allardyce's side go into Saturday's clash unbeaten in six outings including FA Cup successes over Everton and Bristol City.

And with triumphs over Liverpool and Manchester City under their belts, Downing is tired of hearing how luck may be behind the Hammers' surge.

"The mentality among the lads right now is that we’re good enough to be up there, we haven’t just been lucky," he said.

"People on the outside might think we’ve been lucky, but if you look at the teams we’ve beaten this season and how we’ve beat them, we deserve to be where we are on merit. You can’t get lucky that many times.

"It would be a shame to let all that good work go to waste if we start to fall away now. We had a bit of a dip over Christmas, but we're on a decent run in the cup, doing well in the league and are still in the mix. We need to finish strongly."

It’s always nice playing against your old teams. I like going to Anfield. You want to go back there, put in a performance, get a result and show the fans why the club bought you in the first place

A first win at Anfield since 1963 would go a long way to silencing the doubters once and for all, and it would be particularly sweet for Downing who moved to Merseyside from Aston Villa in 2011.

Just three goals in 65 league appearances followed in a frustrating two-year spell for the England international, and he's relishing the opportunity to put in a standout display in front of the Kop.

"It’s always nice playing against your old teams," he added. "I like it, especially going to Anfield. When I go back to Aston Villa I get a lot of stick so I like going there to win. I left Liverpool on decent terms, but it’s always nice to go back there and show them you’re a good player.

"When you play against one of your old teams you want to go back there, put in a performance, get a result and show the fans why the club bought you in the first place. The most important thing for us is getting the three points because we need to pull away from Liverpool."

Stewart Downing was speaking as part of the new adidas #ThereWillBeHaters campaign, wearing the all-new adidas adizero f50. To join the conversation, follow @adidasUK #ThereWillBeHaters