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Raheem Sterling is fundamental to Pep Guardiola’s Premier League plans

Monday night in Seville saw England shatter a number of long-standing records that no one in their right mind would’ve seen coming. England fielded their youngest side since 1959 to beat Spain 2-3 after three first half goals from the Three Lions proved too much for the Spaniards.

England’s victory ends a 38 game unbeaten home streak for Spain that stretched back to 1987. But it was a special night for City forward Raheem Sterling who earned the praise of England manager Gareth Southgate for all the right reasons.

Sterling ended a 1102 day goal drought in an England shirt that dated back to October 2015. His two first half goals doubled his international goal tally in a matter of minutes.

Despite his lack of goals for his country, most notably during the World Cup campaign, the England manager kept faith in the Jamaican-born forward. And it’s certainly no surprise to City fans either. Since joining at the beginning of the 2015 season Sterling has been a key feature of both Manuel Pellegrini, and subsequently Pep Guardiola’s plans.

Sterling has been a regular starter in City’s attacking line-up since his move down the East Lancs from Liverpool. He’s already racked up an impressive 150 appearances in a Sky Blue shirt, over 100 of them in the Premier League in his three seasons at the Etihad. That’s no mean feat for a 23 year old still learning his trade.
Let alone this season, where he’s made a start in seven of City’s eight Premier League matches. Already netting four in the league, and flying high after his midweek performance in an England shirt, a look over any of the UK bookmakers and you’ll find him a good shout to improve on his goal tally against Burnley on Saturday.

It’s not just goals that he’s contributing, but his work all over pitch works wonders for the team as a whole. Last season Sterling was involved in more goals than any other player in the Premier League, scoring 18 and assisting 11. Those kind of figures and that kind of input will be key to City’s success again for this campaign.

City are looking to fly forward in the race for the Premier League, and with a return to domestic action on the weekend a positive result looks likely, after a calculated draw against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago. For City’s match up against Burnley many betting tips have them starting games at a deficit, such is the current strength of the side at present.

Despite the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester, Sterling will continue to be a central cog in Guardiola’s quest to defend the Premier League title against resurgent opposition. City went storming ahead in the title race last season, with only a limp effort from Mourinho’s United to mount a challenge. With many of the City faithful calling for Guardiola to finally bring the Champions League trophy home, the fact is City can’t afford to take their eye off the Premier League prize this time round.

During England’s eerie international bout against Croatia on 12 October, played in front of an empty stadium, the players’ shouts could be heard prominently. One of the most vocal was Raheem Sterling, directing his teammates and taking charge.

Indeed England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted himself that Sterling is beginning to take on a role of responsibility in mentoring some of the younger players as they come through – including former City academy player Jadon Sancho.

When you put all of this together you can see how important Raheem Sterling is to this current City side. He contributes goals, assists, his workrate is second to none, and it appears like he’s ready to become a leader. Sterling will become more important than ever to Pep Guardiola’s domestic ambitions, let alone to success in Europe.

Adam Grimshaw

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