Guardi­ola pleased with re­ju­ve­nated Ster­ling

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

KINGSTON UPON HULL: Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola be­lieves winger Ra­heem Ster­ling has re­cap­tured his best form in time for the club’s hec­tic fes­tive pro­gramme in the Premier League.

Ster­ling, 22, made a su­perb start to the sea­son un­der in­com­ing man­ager Guardi­ola, but then the Eng­land winger en­dured a dif­fi­cult pe­riod as he strug­gled to make an im­pres­sion in games.

He pro­duced a fine dis­play last time out, though, as City came from be­hind to beat Arse­nal 2-1 and ahead of to­day’s trip to Hull City, Guardi­ola be­lieves he looks back to his old self.

“In the last game, Ra­heem came back to the level he started the sea­son,” said Guardi­ola, whose side sit third in the ta­ble, seven points be­low lead­ers Chelsea.

“The last month and a half, he was a lit­tle bit down. But you can for­get again how young he is and he needs to live a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to be­come more sta­ble.

“But in gen­eral, his per­for­mance was high and we need this guy for onea­gainst-one sit­u­a­tions.”

Ster­ling has found the net six times in all com­pe­ti­tions for City this sea­son and Guardi­ola has urged the for­mer Liver­pool player to get into the penalty area more of­ten. “Some­times I say to him, ‘You need to play wide, wide, wide and stay there and make ac­tion one-again­stone,’” said the for­mer Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich coach.

“When he does that, it’s dif­fi­cult for him to get into the box, but for ex­am­ple the first goal, I think it was against Sun­der­land, he played wide like a winger, but he ar­rived on the penalty spot. “I think the strik­ers and the wingers, they have to move how they feel, es­pe­cially in the last me­tres. “Of course, he is not our top scorer, but he has to feel how beau­ti­ful it is to score goals, how im­por­tant it is for the team, but for him as well.

“He scored a beau­ti­ful goal in the last game and he gave us a lot, es­pe­cially dur­ing the first month and a half. He was our key, key player in front and of course we need him.”

SNODGRASS IN­TE­GRAL

City are still with­out striker Ser­gio Aguero as he serves the fi­nal match of his four-game sus­pen­sion, but mid­fielder Fer­nand­inho is avail­able af­ter a three­match ban.

Cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany (knee) and mid­field­ers Ilkay Gun­do­gan (knee) and Fabian Delph (groin) will miss out, while right-back Pablo Za­baleta is doubt­ful with a knee prob­lem. Hull man­ager Mike Phe­lan, who has no fresh in­jury con­cerns, thinks Scot­tish winger Robert Snodgrass will be in­te­gral to his side’s hopes of avoid­ing rel­e­ga­tion from the top flight.

The Tigers are lan­guish­ing three points from safety at the foot of the ta­ble, but Snodgrass’s form in front of goal has been one of the plus points of a test­ing cam­paign. “I think he’s an im­por­tant cog in the sys­tem. Robert’s scored goals, he’s played in a cou­ple of po­si­tions and he’s en­joy­ing it,” Phe­lan said. “From now un­til the end of the sea­son I think it’s im­por­tant that he con­tin­ues in that vein. “He’s will­ing, he’s ca­pa­ble and he’s per­formed very, very well. He had an in­jury that ques­tion-marked whether he would re­cover. He has done and per­formed re­ally well.” Phe­lan is hope­ful the Tigers can hang on to the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional, scorer of seven goals in all com­pe­ti­tions, when the trans­fer win­dow re­opens in Jan­uary.

“Any foot­ball club should be look­ing to keep their as­sets and he’s one of them,” said the for­mer Manch­ester United as­sis­tant man­ager. “Be­cause of his con­tract sit­u­a­tion, he’s un­der con­tract, so un­less some­one comes in with a huge amount of money which it would take to de­liver some­where else, he’s a Hull City player.” — AFP

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