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Should Raheem Sterling now be a regular starter for Manchester City?

Jake Jackman

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Sterling

Manchester City have started the season in great form under Pep Guardiola and are the current favourites to win the Premier League title. There is an array of talent available to the Spaniard and he is using a formation that gets the best from them. During the first six matches of the season, they have scored 21 goals, which is impressive and underlines the threat they pose in the final third.

Raheem Sterling has played a significant role of that success and looks to be a player reborn since the new season started. The Telegraph reported earlier this month that City’s Premier League rivals believe that the winger isn’t wanted by the club and that he will be offloaded once Guardiola’s team takes shape. However, he is performing on a weekly basis and is enjoying the most successful spell since his arrival at the Etihad Stadium.

The following comments from Guardiola, as reported by the Evening Standard, show that the club see Sterling as a part of their future.

“Raz [Raheem] is staying here. The club trust him, that is why we have invested a lot of money in him, so the players we have are going to stay.”

It is difficult to see the club wanting to sell the England international now, as he has scored six goals in all competitions already. He is the club’s second top scorer behind only Sergio Aguero and he hasn’t always been on the pitch. Sterling is only 22 years of age and it was incredible to see him written off by the press during the summer as he is still in the primitive stage of his career. He is in the right place for his own development and the early signs are that he could be set for the best season of his career so far.

Sterling’s season so far in numbers

After starting the season out of the first-team, Sterling has worked hard and impressed during his short time on the pitch. He has made six Premier League appearances, four of which were from the start, totalling 2388 minutes. The 22-year-old will recognise that he won’t start every week, but if he takes his chances when he is on the pitch, he will future his own cause. This is exactly what he has done during the first few weeks of the new season.

Sterling takes up a wide position when he is selected in the team and has shown that he is capable of playing on either side of the pitch. From the matches so far, it looks like the winger has been told to be direct and look to offer a goal threat rather than create chances for his team-mates. Guardiola knows that Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and the full-backs will take up most of the creative responsibility, leaving the attackers to take up more dangerous positions in the centre.

During his career, Sterling has always been excellent at using his pace to run in behind and threaten the goal, but his finishing has been mixed. This season, it has dramatically improved as evidenced by his shot accuracy of 47%. In the Premier League, he is averaging 4.41 shots per ninety minutes, which is marginally less than Aguero. The Argentine is averaging 4.43 per ninety minutes.

This is impressive and highlights how goal-oriented Sterling is when he is on the pitch. An impressive average of 3.25 shots are coming from inside the area, underlining the role that he is carrying out. The 22-year-old is getting into the area as frequently as possible and offering support to Gabriel Jesus and Aguero. At times, it looks like he is operating as a centre-forward.

In terms of creativity, Sterling is producing fewer chances than he was last season. During the 2016/17 campaign, he averaged 1.65 chances created per ninety minutes and that is down to 1.39 this season. The fall isn’t drastic and the dramatic increase in shot output suggests that he is now carrying more of a threat in the final third, despite the drop in creativity.

These stats are very impressive, but they come from a small sample. He has only played 388 minutes in the Premier League and averages are skewed by this. It will not be until he has reached the 1000-minute mark that his productivity will be accurately reflected. However, the early indications are encouraging and suggest that the 22-year-old has a huge role to play at the Etihad Stadium this season.

Should he be a starter?

This is a difficult question at Manchester City, as they have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking talent. Bernardo Silva joined in the summer and has only gained 169 minutes of Premier League football. Leroy Sane has been in excellent form at the start of this season, while De Bruyne and David Silva remain ever-presents.

Another barrier to playing time is the formation. If Guardiola opts to field Jesus alongside Sergio Aguero, there is no place in the team for out-and-out wingers. Sterling’s performances so far should be enough to earn him a prominent role during the next few weeks. The City manager will look to utilise the attacking players that are in the best form and promote competition for places.

However, he won’t hesitate in reducing Sterling’s playing time if he starts to struggle in the final third. The England international might be making the headlines at the moment, but given the squad that City have at their disposal, he has to maintain his form to keep his place.

At the age of 22, Sterling will be pleased with his current status. He is a regular for a Premier League side that is challenging for the title and in the form of his life. City would have regretted their decision if they had sold him during the summer and it now looks an impossibility that they will offload him any time soon.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

Who is best-placed to challenge Manchester City next season?

Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to defend their title during the 2018/19 campaign.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City were crowned as Premier League champions on Sunday afternoon after Manchester United suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of struggling West Bromwich Albion.

Pep Guardiola’s team have ripped apart the top-flight of English football this season with a devastatingly effective style of play that has left their rivals struggling to hold on to their coattails.

City are currently 16 points clear of second place with five games still to play and now have the opportunity to break the 100-point barrier as the season comes to a conclusion.

Here, The Boot Room evaluate which top-six team is best placed to challenge Manchester City’s dominance next year.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Manchester United

There are currently mixed feelings around Old Trafford regarding how Manchester United have performed this season and the long-term direction of the club under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho.

A failure to maintain the astonishing pace set by Manchester City has left supporters having to be content with a top-four finish and FA Cup semi-final whilst there has been a deluge of criticism aimed at the pragmatic style of play utilised.

Mourinho remains one of the best managers in world football and he is still in the process of moulding a team in his own image.

The Portuguese maestro has already spent big in the transfer market, as demonstrated by the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku over the past two years, and the club are expected to make further significant investments in the summer.

He needs to find the missing piece to the Manchester United jigsaw and that will mean addressing the lop-sided defence, demonstrated by Ashley Young’s emergence as first-choice left-back.

Mourinho has overcome Guardiola in the past but there will be no room for excuses next season if, after two years of building a team, Manchester United are unable to challenge their cross-city rivals.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur have continuously improved year-on-year under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino but you still feel that the club is some way behind their rivals in terms of winning the Premier League.

Spurs have a young, dynamic squad of players that play fast, attacking football and, in Harry Kane, they possess one of the best strikers in the world right now. However, something is still missing and it is hard to put your finger on exactly what it is.

Perhaps it is simply a mental issue? Tottenham have not won a league title since 1960 and last secured silverware of any kind almost a decade ago – do the current group of players have the right mentality or experience to enable them to maintain performances over the course of a full campaign? Their upcoming FA Cup semi-final may provide an insight later this month.

Whilst you feel that Tottenham will always be in and around the top spots next season, it is difficult to see them overcoming Manchester City without significant investment or Pochettino uncovering the magic formula.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Chelsea

Chelsea have offered a feeble and limp defence of their title this year and still face a scramble to secure a place in the top-four.

Things have clearly not been right behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge and Antonio Conte is expected to depart the club in the summer after spending much of the season snipping at the Chelsea hierarchy.

Regardless of who the Italian’s successor is, it is widely expected that the club will bounce back.

Under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, the Blues have continuously maintained their standing as one of the leading side’s in the country and you would imagine that the Russian oligarch will be keen to reclaim their crown next season.

Chelsea will spend big in the summer to ensure that they build a squad capable of challenging Manchester City and a striker will be top of the new manager’s wish list. Alvaro Morata made a positive start to the campaign but has struggled for form and fitness in the second half of the season.

If the Blues can make the right appointment in the dugout and strengthen significantly on the pitch then history suggests they will be in and around the top spots.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Liverpool

Since arriving at Anfield in October 2015 Jurgen Klopp thrown himself into the task of restoring Liverpool’s status as one of the leading club’s in Europe.

Each transfer window has seen the squad steadily improve and you now feel that the German has built a team that is capable of challenging for both domestic and European silverware.

Liverpool have a reputation for producing attacking, dynamic and exciting football and the attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino possess an abundance of pace, power and creativity.

Under the stewardship of Klopp, the team have always looked capable of scoring goals but have regularly been criticised for being undermined by defensive fragile and frail.

However, the signing of Virgil Van Dijk in January, the emergence of John Robertson and the new-found confidence of Loris Karius appears to have put some of those concerns to bed – Liverpool have kept eight clean sheets in their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Klopp will continue to develop the squad during the summer and, as proven by their historic victory over Manchester City, the Reds are certainly heading in the right direction.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Arsenal

There has continued to be a degree of frustration and dissatisfaction around the Emirates Stadium this season as Arsenal have continued to fall behind their rivals on the pitch.

The Gunners are currently 33 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League are relying on winning the Europa League in order to qualify for the Champions League next year.

The club under-performed last season, failing to qualify for Europe’s premier competition, and the decline has continued over the following twelve months with supporters becoming increasingly frustrated with Arsene Wenger’s failure to consistently secure positive results.

The same old problems persist – there is a lack of leaders, a lack of quality in central defence and no commanding midfield player.

Wenger has brought together an exciting forward line that possesses pace, power and experience with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan arriving in January to complement the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and a fit-again Danny Welbeck.

However, Arsenal continue to be undermined by prevalent weaknesses throughout the remainder of the team and there are currently a world away from competing with Manchester City.

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English Premier League

Kyle Walker’s move to Manchester City justified and Tottenham must learn lessons

The England international has won the silverware he craved at Manchester City.

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Manchester City finally wrapped up the Premier League title yesterday evening, without kicking a ball. Manchester United’s shock loss to West Brom at Old Trafford gave City an unassailable lead at the top of the Premier League table.

For one City player, it was the justification of a big decision made last summer.

Kyle Walker made it clear to former employers Tottenham Hotspur that he wanted to leave the club last summer. The England international was subsequently dropped for Kieran Trippier and sold. City paid Tottenham a total transfer package reported to be in the region of £54 million by The Times.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The motivation behind Walker’s exit was often questioned by Tottenham fans. He made it clear that his main reason behind leaving City was to win silverware, something that was not happening at Tottenham. However, in terms of form, Spurs had been the better team than City over the previous two seasons.

It saw some fans suggest Walker left the club for the money. Forbes suggested Walker doubled his Tottenham wages with the move to Manchester.

Now, Walker can certainly feel his move was justified. After years of near misses at Tottenham, playing under Pep Guardiola has helped him pick up both the Premier League and League Cup winners’ medals this season.

Undoubtedly, the money will have had something to do with Walker’s move. But he also clearly felt his chances of winning trophies were improved at the Etihad.

(<> at Wembley Stadium on March 27, 2018 in London, England.

It is a sickener for Tottenham fans, but one they will have to take on the chin. Instances like this certainly highlight how tough Tottenham will have it trying to pick up the Premier League trophy whilst always fighting a losing battle in the wages department.

The FA Cup is still on the cards for this season. Manchester United are Tottenham’s opponents in the semi-final this weekend and Spurs will hope to find some silverware at Wembley this season. That can hopefully be the catalyst toward Tottenham pushing for the Premier League title again next season, and keeping players like Walker happy in North London.

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English Premier League

Title-winning result proves Manchester City shouldn’t sign Jonny Evans

The West Brom captain has had a tough season at The Hawthorns.

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Manchester City are the Premier League champions and have an unlikely source to thank for pushing them over the finish line. Following their 3-1 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley the Cityzens knew that a win for West Brom at Manchester United would hand them the Premier League title. Nobody, however, expected it to happen.

But Jay Rodriguez’s second-half header secured an unlikely win for the Premier League’s bottom club at Old Trafford and it handed City their well-deserved title.

But one player’s absence from the fixture might be of more interest to Manchester City.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

West Brom managed to keep United at bay, without the services of captain Jonny Evans. The former United man missed the game with a minor knee injury. Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson, however, stepped up and put in an excellent performance to keep United at bay.

For many West Brom fans, the club has actually performed better without Evans in recent weeks.

He is, of course, a player who could have been on his way to Manchester City last summer. Pep Guardiola wanted to strengthen is back-line and saw Evans, an experienced Premier League pro, as the perfect option. The Sun reported that City were keen on the player, valued at around £23.5 million by the Baggies.

This summer Evans could be available at a much cheaper price. If West Brom are relegated, the Northern Irishman is available for a fee of just £3 million – as reported by Sky Sports.

(during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Burnley at The Hawthorns on March 31, 2018 in West Bromwich, England.

This week, The Sun claimed that Evans will be snubbing the interest of Arsenal and holding out for Manchester City. However, if there is one thing City should learn from West Brom helping them win the title at the weekend, it is that Evans might not be the man for them.

His form has been questionable this season and on top of that, he was one of four West Brom players who allegedly stole a taxi during a disastrous winter break to Barcelona.

Manchester City signed Aymeric Laporte in January and still have the likes of Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones filling centre-back positions. With that in mind, and given his poor form, it is hard to see why City would bring in Evans at all this summer – even at the bargain price of just £3 million.

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