From on his way out to undroppable, Stewart Downing's rising fortunes have reflected Liverpool's—and it's the club's improving performances Downing is worried about as he targets a strong end to the season.
With Liverpool easily dispatching Wigan after demolishing Swansea in their previous league game, things are looking up at Anfield. The top four may be out of reach, but if Brendan Rodgers' side can continue their run of strong performances and results it will at least allow them to end the season on a positive note.
To the surprise of many, Stewart Downing has played an important role in Liverpool's recent uptick, going from a player most assumed was one of the names in Rodgers' pre-season envelopes of doom to one the manager sees as a nailed-on starter. Downing, though, is keeping his focus on worrying about the club's results.
'I think it's coming together," said Downing. "We've had some good results of late. We're finishing teams off and defending well. Pepe Reina made some great saves, and if we do our bit at the other end of the field, we've got a chance.
"It's all coming together. We played some good football. Obviously getting the early goal helped. It settled us down and on a tricky pitch, I thought we dominated for large periods of the game.
"We've got 10 games to go and we've got to keep winning."
If Arsenal keep up their current pace, Liverpool need 24 of a possible 30 points to challenge for fifth and automatic Europa League qualification. It would take 26 points to challenge for fourth if Chelsea can hold on to match the historical average over the past ten years of 68 points for fourth.
Talking about a specific goal in those circumstances seems foolish. Setting out to win each match as it comes and seeing how the table sorts itself out in the end is somewhat less so—and it's an approach the club might have been better off embracing all along.
And that Downing today likely gives Liverpool a better chance of winning more points from their last ten matches in the lineup than they would have with him out of it isn't something anybody watching the club would have imagined likely—or perhaps even possible—when the season started.
"It was nice to get a goal, no matter how they come," he added about his early contribution. "The manager said to try to get in a position to score goals and if you get in the box, you have a chance. It was a great ball from Philippe and I was able to make a good contact on it to get it past the keeper."
Read More: The Curious Staying Power of Stewart Downing