Big Sam hails Downing impact

Sam Allardyce believes Stewart Downing is getting better and better as the weeks go by in the wake of the winger's recent stand-out performances.

The wideman's displays saw him voted by the Club's fans as their Player of the Month for November, taking 35% of the vote and saw him edge out October's winner Ravel Morrison.

His performances have also been a big hit with Big Sam who believes his team must keep providing good service to the 29-year-old if they are to continually see him at his best.

Allardyce told "We've got to first and foremost provide the type of service which Stewart Downing enjoys which is what he enjoys with us on a regular basis.

"We're all disappointed that we haven't achieved the results to match how we've played, particularly him because he's playing better and better as the weeks go by."

Downing was off and celebrating what he thought was his first West Ham United goal and the equaliser against Crystal Palace in the Hammers last Barclays Premier League outing on Tuesday night, only to see it ruled out for a foul by Joey O'Brien.

Allardyce believed the goal should have stood and was dismayed that it denied the team a chance to get a point and maybe more from Selhurst Park.

"He scored a perfectly good goal the other night which compounded the disappointment. I would be sat here now and the players would be coming in with less pressure on them than is now given.

"At the time you don't want a major decision to go against you because it costs you a result. I believe that if that goal was allowed that it would have changed the course of the game.

"I'm not saying that we would have won but I certainly don't think we would have lost from that position because we'd controlled the game throughout apart from the lapse in defence which got them the goal.

"Stewart Downing would have got his first goal for us as well so it would have made a big difference."

On Saturday afternoon the winger will be returning to the club where he spent two seasons before leaving to join West Ham in August of this year.

Downing played a part in both of these fixtures last season, including the Hammers visit to Anfield in April where Big Sam's side were good value for a 0-0 draw.

This time round the focus is on stopping one man, Luis Suarez, and Allardyce is hoping his defence will be able to shackle him as they did on the team's last trip to Merseyside.

He said: "If you're trying to contain Luis Suarez it's about cutting off the supply to him and being very focussed on doing the right thing and not being tempted to dive in because the minute you make that move he skips past you.

"You've got to make sure you stand up and force him away from goal. It was an exceptional performance by James Tomkins and James Collins last year to acquire a 0-0 so we'll need that type of performance from the back four again."