Downing happy to be in touch
Winger Stewart Downing knows Liverpool cannot afford to lose touch with the teams at the top of the table. After suffering successive defeats against Stoke and Tottenham last month the Reds found themselves eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United and City. However, wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton have rectified what could have developed into a problematic period and the gap to both Manchester clubs is now six points.
More importantly, the distance between them and a place in the top four - with regaining their UEFA Champions League status a priority this season - is only two points. United are next up at Anfield on 15 October, after Downing and club-mate Andy Carroll return from England duty, and the Reds go into that match with a lot more confidence thanks to those back-to-back wins.
"It is easy to slip away from the pack when you lose a couple and we didn't want to do that," said the 27-year-old. "I think the two victories keep us in with that [pack] going into the international break. The derby win was a big three points for us. Winning meant a lot to the fans but the main thing for us was getting the three points. We needed it to stay in the pack. We're going into the break in good form and we have to ensure we keep it going."
One player who will be looking to carry on where he left off at Goodison Park is Andy Carroll, who is now on international duty after scoring his first league goal of the season against the Toffees. "Scoring against Everton and beating them at their place is special but you have to keep it going," said the £35m club record signing.
"The dressing room was just buzzing afterwards. Everyone was over the moon. We've got Manchester United next game and I've got to make sure I keep doing well week in and week out now. We are a new team and we are still gelling together but what we have got to do is stick to the performance we produced (at Everton) and I am sure we will be up there."
Downing was delighted to see the striker on the scoresheet and hopes he can use it as a platform on which to improve in the coming weeks. "Andy's off the mark now. Without scoring, he's been doing well for us and he deserved it for his all-around play," he said. "That goal is a real bonus and for it to happen in the derby is extra special for him. Andy is a quality striker and I'm sure he'll build on it."