Downing backs rampant Reds to nail high-flying Hammers
Stewart Downing is backing Liverpool to make it five straight Premier League wins when West Ham visit Anfield on Sunday.
The ex-England ace, 39, has a foot in both camps having represented the Reds and the Hammers during a playing career that spanned nearly two decades.
And though he has been impressed by David Moyes' men, Downing fears they will return from Merseyside empty-handed.
Speaking exclusively to LiveScore, the former winger said: "West Ham are defensively solid and well organised, with a real threat on the break.
"I think David will look to the likes of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen to do damage on the break like they did at Brighton — and he'd be delighted with a point, being honest.
"But Liverpool always come to win at Anfield and I can only see a home win with the way they've been playing."
Downing, who won the League Cup with the Reds in 2011-12, has been pleasantly surprised by his old club's fast start after a summer of transfer upheaval.
He added: "I was a bit worried initially. I thought one or two may go this summer but they've ended up revamping the whole midfield.
"Players like Fabinho and Jordan Henderson leaving, who had been regulars in the team. That can easily disrupt things but the new lads have done well.
"[Dominik] Szoboszlai has really impressed me. I'd seen a bit of him before and knew he was a good player but you never know how quickly new faces will settle in.
"Alexis Mac Allister, too. He hasn't had as quick a start as Szoboszlai but he's shown enough to suggest he'll be a strong addition."
Downing firmly believes Liverpool can set their sights high this season. He said: "I did say top four would be a good target but now I think they can push Arsenal for second.
"I still think Manchester City are too strong in terms of the title but there's no reason they can't be right behind them."
Irons in the fire
Having sealed a famous Europa Conference League success in June, West Ham have kept the good times rolling with 10 points from their first five games.
Downing has been thrilled by the Irons' progress but hopes club bigwigs do not get carried away when it comes to setting unreasonable expectations.
He said: "For West Ham, aiming for the top seven is a good target. The key is not to get greedy.
"I know what the owners can be like. When Sam [Allardyce] was there, it went from wanting top 10, to top seven, to top four. It's unrealistic.
"Considering they've lost their most influential player in Declan Rice, I think a top-half finish would be a really good season."
Downing, capped 35 times by the Three Lions, believes Moyes may change his priorities when it comes to European football this term.
He added: "At Middlesbrough in 2006, we got ourselves safe in the league then went all out for Europe and reached the final — basically what West Ham did last term.
"But David will realise the chances of repeating that this season are slim.
"It sounds boring but the league is your bread and butter, so that will be top priority."