Downing insists Steve Clarke's fourth-placed men should not put too much stock in the Reds' lowly league position of 18th.
"I have watched them a couple of times recently and against Manchester United they were the better side, even with ten men," Downing told the WBA website.
"I thought they played exceptionally well and there was a controversial sending-off. At Sunderland they earned a valuable point which could have been all three.
"So they're a good team. They are in a transitional period but there are signs Brendan is getting things right.
"It will be a tight game, I envisage another difficult game and I don't think the first game will have much bearing on it."