Stewart Downing is hoping that West Ham United can finally secure back-to-back wins in the Barclays Premier League when he returns to face his former employers Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

The Hammers have not won consecutive top-flight games since 2011, when home wins against Liverpool and Stoke City arrived at the end of February and the beginning of March.

It's a fact that Downing and his teammates are well aware of, having constantly been reminded about the unwanted statistic by Sam Allardyce.

The winger told West Ham TV: "We keep getting reminded of it as we haven't done it as yet.

"It's a great chance this weekend to put it right and not let the manager keep banging on about it to us. It's a good chance for us, a good game and we should have beaten them at home really. A couple of us will be playing our old team and it would be nice to go there and get the three points."

When the Hammers arrive at Villa Park to try and record the Club's first win there since 2006, Downing will be returning to a ground where he spent two seasons of his career.

In the Claret and Blue of the Villans, whom he joined in summer 2009, the 29-year-old helped the club to achieve a sixth-place Premier League finish and was instrumental in them reaching the League Cup final in his first season.

The No23 spent a further season in the Midlands, where he won the club's Player of the Year award, before leaving to join Liverpool in 2011, and the winger believes some of his best football was played during his spell with the Villans.

"When Martin O'Neill was there we had a good squad and that wasn't just the starting XI, he could pick two teams, the squad was that good. The second season we lost Martin and things changed.

"I'm not sure if the owners had stopped investing a bit. We bought Darren Bent because we were struggling but you could sense a bit of a change, cut-backs being made and stuff.

"It was a good time for me to move and it's been a bit of a transitional few seasons for Villa but they're still a decent team."

Since Paul Lambert took the hot seat at Villa Park in 2012, the Scot has overseen an almost wholesale change in personnel, opting to place the emphasis on signing young talent rather than stick with those players who are tried and tested.

Downing is not the only ex-Villan in the Hammers' squad, with centre-back James Collins also having represented the Midlands outfit from 2009 to 2012, but only a few familiar faces remain from their time at the club.

"Me and Ginge were talking about it the other day, how many players were there that we knew. Obviously there's Gabby Agbonlahor and Fabian Delph signed when I signed but apart from that Paul Lambert's had a bit of a revamp and bought in a lot of young players.

"Benteke's probably his stand-out buy. That's the way they're going, they're building a young team and it takes a couple of seasons to do that, it's not going to happen overnight but that's what he's tried to do."

A win against Aston Villa would close the gap between the two sides to just two points and Downing believes that the next few games will be crucial in defining the Hammers' season.

"Teams in and around us won last week so we could have been cut adrift had we not won, they were big points. There's three big games coming up, winnable games and we need to pick up points.

"We've still got to play some of the teams in and around us so it's going to be quite fascinating for the neutral but we need to get points on the board as quick as possible."