Stewart Downing - The Big Interview

Stewart Downing was happy to play his part as the Hammers secured back-to-back Barclays Premier League wins for the second time in as many months.

Relegation-threatened Sunderland were beaten 2-1 by West Ham United on Monday evening, with one-time Black Cats loanee Downing enjoying his return his his native north east.

Stewart, how big a win was that on Monday?

SD: "Very big. Hull was maybe a bigger win but obviously going to Sunderland, they had to come at us and I think we defended quite well at times, especially towards the end. We could have made it more comfortable - I had a chance and Andy had a volley - we could have been out of sight, so we made it hard for ourselves but it was a good win."

It's actually two wins in a row, so you're really flying at the moment...

SD: "It's been the story of our season really. We got four wins in a row in February, then we lost three before winning these two, so it was important for us [to return to form]."

For that first goal, Andy Carroll did what Andy Carroll does. It was a great header, wasn't it?

SD: "It was a tremendous header. We work on things like that to target Andy at set pieces. It was a great leap and a great header. It's a good goal for him and he wants to get as many goals as he can to get picked for the World Cup."

When things are going well, they go well, and you got a bit of luck with the penalty shout and for the deflection on the second goal, but they all count.

SD: "They all count and at the start of the season they were going in against us. We were due a bit of luck, we've dug in there and stuck at it to get our rewards. I know there was a big of a deflection on the goal but we deserved it."

Your old mate Adam Johnson got one at the other end, how frustrated were you as a team not to keep a clean sheet?

SD: "I think we were. Credit to Johnno, it was a great goal, but defensively from us it was poor as we should have closed him down and not let him get in that area. We made it difficult for ourselves because we let them back in the game, but I had that chance just before when the keeper touched it around the post. We could have been out of sight, but the game's never over until the end,"

Are you safe from relegation now?

SD: "These were two massive wins for us, it gives us a little bit of breathing space, but I wouldn't say we're out of sight. For us the target is to finish as high as we can, we're not just sitting happily now because we've got 37 points. We want to get as many more points as we can before the end of the season. Liverpool is a big game at the weekend, we can do other teams a favour and ourselves a favour by getting into that top ten position."

A big game for you personally too next...

SD: "It's nice to play against your old teams and I'm sure Andy and Joe Cole are looking forward to it. We're in for that top ten spot and it's tight, so we want to do ourselves and the other teams a favour."

They're flying at the moment, so you'll have to be on your mettle.

SD: "Yes, their forward line is frightening at the minute. The goals are coming from everywhere, but we'll make it hard for them at our place. When I was playing for Liverpool it was always hard against West Ham at Upton Park. It's going to be difficult, but a good win on Monday breeds confidence and we fancy ourselves against anyone at home."

Tell us about your chance in the second half. Did you think it was in?

SD: "I should have scored if I'm honest. The keeper stood up until late, and I think he's tipped it - I'm not sure whether it would have hit the post or gone in. I should have scored and that would have put us out of sight. It wasn't to be, but the main thing was we won the game.

It felt like you were in the thick of things. Did you enjoy it?

SD: "I very much enjoyed it. It was a good tussle with Alonso and it was a quite high energy game, up and down. I was going one way and he was going the other, but it was a big win. There was a lot of pressure on them to attack us and we defended well.

We saw the defensive side of your game too, flying up and down that wing and doing the hard yards.

SD: "You have to do that in this position, especially with the way they were set up. Alonso was playing quite high and the manager said you have to track him. They tried to expose us, but in a way it was a plus for us, because we had acres of space out wide. We capitalised on it and it was a great win for us.

The goal hasn't quite come for you this evening, but are you confident it will eventually?

SD: "The goals will come. The main thing for me is playing well, that's why I came here - to play regularly and do well. As long as the team's winning the goals are a bonus, but hopefully I'll get a couple before the end of the season."