Stewart Downing: This fault could cost West Ham against big teams

Stewart Downing wants to see West Ham start games well after conceding the first goal in three consecutive games.

The Hammers are now unbeaten in four, and they sit two points clear of Southampton in fourth place.

Following a 1-1 draw at Sunderland - an impressive result given the Black Cats’ home form - Sam Allardyce’s men are one of the form sides in the division, and they will be looking to increase their chances of a top four finish by enjoying a positive run of results over the intense festive period. Not only have the club shown that can play a new dominating style of football, there appears to be a real belief in the squad to succeed, and the Irons have successfully come from behind in their last three games.

Having gone one goal down in their previous three fixtures with West Brom, Swansea and the Black Cats, the Irons recovered to claim two victories and a draw, and the character in the squad to keep climbing the table has made them a really hard team to defeat.

However, continually conceding the opening goal makes the job much harder for Allardyce’s men, and Stewart Downing - who scored the equalising goal at the Stadium of Light - feels as if the side need to start games well, as conceding the first goal could cost valuable points against one of the big sides in the division.

Speaking to the official West Ham website, the 30-year-old said: “The manager stressed that, although we're doing well by coming back and not losing games, we need to start well because, if you're playing against the top boys and they get a cushion of two or three goals, you won't come back from that.”

The Hammers looked to be improving upon their early start in the game on Wearside, and the appeared to be in control of proceedings before an Adam Johnson penalty gave Sunderland the lead following a light foul by James Tomkins. Having started in control, it was unfortunate to see the Irons lose domination on the game, and Downing said conceding was the only disappointing part of the game.

“I think that's the only disappointing thing [going behind],” he added. “We started well and then we conceded, so we did things the opposite way around!”

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