Saturday 17 December 2011
Stewart Downing returns to Aston Villa on Sunday keen to prove a point to his old employers and get off the mark for his new club Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.
The 27-year-old England winger left the Midlands side for Anfield for £20m in the summer and has played in every League match so far this season for Kenny Dalglish's new-look Reds team.
But Downing has failed to get on the scoresheet for a Liverpool team that has only scored 18 goals in 15 matches, hitting the woodwork against Sunderland and Fulham to leave him still waiting for his first goal in a Reds shirt.
"It's been frustrating not to score, but I think I'm getting close and closer"
- Stewart Downing
It took Downing 25 League matches to get off the mark for his first club Middlesbrough and a further 12 when he joined Aston Villa in 2009, and he is desperate to open the floodgates in front of the Sky television cameras during Sunday's 1405 GMT kick-off.
"I don't know how many times I've hit the post or crossbar but it's been frustrating," said Downing. "I think I'm getting closer and closer each time, though, and I'm really hoping it will happen soon.
"For me, that would be so good, but obviously the best thing is that the team is winning. We just have to keep working at it and, the way we're playing, goals will surely come.
"We know we haven't converted enough chances, and that means we haven't been killing teams off. We all know we have to finish them off when you get those sort of chances, because if you don't they invariably punish you at this level.
"Hands up, if we'd taken more of our opportunities this season then we'd be in a much better position, and we all know that."
Liverpool lie just outside the top four and the UEFA Champions League qualifications places and they have drawn five of their eight League matches at Anfield, often frustrated by their profligacy in front of goal.
Downing is also yet to assist a Liverpool goal in the Barclays Premier League, an anomaly in his career when you consider that, in the seven seasons prior to his joining the Reds, he was the top flight's fifth most successful creator of chances behind Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ryan Giggs.
But he surely won't be kept waiting for too much longer. With Euro 2012 approaching, Downing - who is yet to score for his country having won 32 caps - will want to hit his very best form to make sure of his place in England's 23-man squad next summer.
His last Barclays Premier League goal came in the same fixture last season when Villa beat Liverpool 1-0 - and he will be looking to repeat the scoring feat in his new club's colours this time around.