Saturday 29 April 2017

Raheem Sterling Focus

Raheem Sterling, centre right, missed a glaring opportunity in the first half for Manchester City
Raheem Sterling, centre right, missed a glaring opportunity in the first half for Manchester City

Raheem Sterling had been in decent form leading up to the 1-1 draw with former club Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium as both teams cemented their top-four places in the Premier League.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at how the former Reds winger fared against his former employers.

LINK-UP PLAY

Sterling was partnered on the right hand side by makeshift full-back Fernandinho and began the match in sync as the Brazilian rampaged upfield. Fernandinho's lack of positional awareness meant the England international had to track back more than usual to compensate, particularly in the first half.

For the final 25 minutes, Sterling was partnered by regular full-back Bacary Sagna but did not have much time before he was switched to the 'number 10' position behind striker Sergio Aguero - where he struggled to get a foothold on the ball and was fairly quiet.

MOVEMENT

Manchester City like spraying passes to both wingers, meaning Sterling and Leroy Sane saw plenty of the ball and the England international started brightly with plenty of winning battles against Liverpool full-back James Milner.

Sterling made great runs behind the Reds defence throughout the match for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Daivd Silva to thread passes through - but he was often flagged offside for mistimed runs.

Sterling broke the offside trap with a rare well-timed surge late in the game that almost resulted in a goal which would have put City ahead - but his effort drifted just wide.

FINISHING

Sterling missed the best opportunity of the first half to break the deadlock when Silva played a ball across the face of the goal but he failed to make any contact with the ball when faced with an open goal from six yards out.

On replays, however, his miss can be justified somewhat as his right ankle was clipped as he was about to strike the ball by the recovering Milner - who was lucky to not give away a penalty in the process.

He timed a run to perfection as he looked to latch onto a scooped pass from Silva and he managed to beat Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to the ball - but could only prod his effort over the onrushing Belgian and wide of the post.

OVERALL

Sterling showed glimpses of his exciting dribbling ability but he was far too quiet to have a real impact on the match, compared to his attacking team-mates. Questions over his crossing ability and finishing remain, with the latter under more scrutiny after the first-half chance he missed with the goal at his mercy.

Press Association

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