West Ham no longer fear the heavy hitters because they currently slugging it out with all of them anyway.!
Stewart Downing declared: “We’re not realistically expected to beat teams of that calibre but we’ve proved this season we can beat anyone in that top four and we’re in that pack for a reason.
“We’ve performed well and done it consistently so it’s been no fluke. We go into those games with confidence and probably the pressure’s on those two teams to beat us. So we can go play our normal game and see what we get out of it.”
He said: “The lads playing behind me in middle do a lot of work for me to express myself further up I appreciate it and just think it’s all come together.
“As a team we’ve the personnel to suit the system and the manager’s probably loving it at the minute. He can go out and sit and enjoy it whereas last season I’m sure it was a hard watch for him at times.
“It was difficult for us to get results but at the minute it’s running smoothly and I think he deserves that after all the stick and the pressure he had last season and this time he’s getting his rewards.
“I said at the start of the season it’s got to be a realistic aim before we kicked a ball.
“I know people said top ten or 12 but me personally, I thought if we keep everyone fit and with the signing of Alex (Song) and people like that I thought we’ve got a really good chance.
“And I think it’s proven in the way we played and I think that should be the aim — top seven and try and get into Europe.”
Downing admits he was shocked by how well Allardyce’s new-look team settled in this campaign.
And he challenged his team-mates to carry forward their form into the second half of the season.
Downing said: “I have to be honest I thought it’d be small steps.
“Getting new players in I knew it would be probably up and down but the lads have come in and settled in really well and consistently played really well.
“Not a lot of them have played in the league so they’ve been a massive bonus to the club and the manager.
“And the biggest thing is injuries, we’ve stayed clear of that, we’ve had one or two but we’ve always had people to come in and take the places of the lads that are missing.
“That’s been a massive plus for us this season and we just need to maintain that going into the second half.”