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Consistency, attitude, training hard, talent.
If Downing can get them all in order, he'll be in the team at some point. How does he stay there?
The answer is simple, really: have a positive impact on Liverpool's attack.
Kids or no kids, Luis Suarez or no Luis Suarez, there can be no doubt that there are still at least one or two places up for grabs in Liverpool's attacking line-up.
The goals aren't yet flowing quite as freely as they could and if someone proves they can score or provide them by way of assists, that player is likely to be a mainstay in the side.
What should the Reds have expected from Downing last season?
Prior to signing, presumably Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish would have looked closely at Downing's statistics from the season before, where he scored seven times in the league for Aston Villa and claimed seven assists.
Comparing the "Villa 10-11" Downing and the "Liverpool 11-12" one, we can see some real similarities.
Defensively, he was almost identical, losing possession of the ball with the same regularity and winning a tackle similarly (around 74 percent success rate).
But in that critical final third, where Downing—as a winger, at least—needs to have a big impact, even though the statistics are similar in terms of attempts, the end product is shockingly dissimilar.
A chance created every 40 minutes at Villa became one every 45 at Liverpool, so why the drop from seven to zero assists?
Was it the poor finishing in general of the team last year? Undoubtedly so in some instances. But all? Downing can't control the forward's finish, but it's his job to ensure the service and the chance being created is of as high a quality as possible, and they weren't, certainly not always.
At both Villa in his final season and Liverpool last year, Downing averaged a shot on goal every 130 minutes—yet never beat the 'keeper last year.
Poor finishing? Lacking in confidence? Or just the 'keeper having a worldie?
Downing has goals in him, no doubt. He's already scored in the Europa League and provided an assist in the same competition, but he's done none of it in the Premier League where it really matters.
To be brutally up front about the situation, there's a long way back for Stewart Downing before he even has to remotely worry about this last set of statistics.
The fact that Joe Cole—recently returned from yet another injury and equally exasperating for the fans to see on the bench—was picked ahead of Downing on the bench against Stoke City speaks volumes for where the winger is placed in the manager's thoughts right now.
Downing needs to keep quiet, get his head down, work hard—and drastically improve all areas of his game.
Otherwise, a January exit will swiftly beckon for another of last year's signings.
statistics from EPLindex.com