‘Ibeeee’ to show off sterling wing play against Raheem?
Agüero fit, but Kompany to miss Milner’s return to Eastlands
INEVITABLY, attention will be heaped upon Raheem Sterling as Manchester City take on Liverpool in the Premier League today.
The England international will take on his former club – the team he left under a thick black cloud in the summer – at the Etihad and is bound to get a hostile reception from Liverpool’s away support.
Sterling arrived at City for a fee of £ 49 million and the money contributed to the arrivals of Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino at Liverpool, but a new winger was not brought to Anfield due to the club’s belief in the abilities of Jordon Ibe.
Ibe was recalled from a loan spell at Derby in January last season and started the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on February 2.
The game was a drab 0-0 but Ibe was impressive and came closest to winning the match when he smacked the post with an effort from 25 yards after a bombarding run which started inside his own half.
This season, Sterling has been a mainstay of the City side which is top of the Premier League after 12 matches, and already through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
He has scored six times, including a hat-trick for City in their 5- 1 victory over Bournemouth and provided two assists.
He averages a goal every 197.5 minutes and has got 18 shots on target in a City shirt.
Ibe, meanwhile, has made 14 appearances for Liverpool but only half of them have been starts, as the Reds’ attacking midfield rank is rather swollen with Adam Lallana, Firmino and Philippe Coutinho also contesting first-team action.
The 19-year-old netted his first goal for the club in the Europa League victory against Rubin Kazan, firing in low from the edge of the area after another marauding run, and was greeted by manager Jürgen Klopp calling “Ibeeee” before giving him a huge hug at fulltime.
The teenager has only landed four shots on target in the 717 minutes he has clocked so far this season but it is perhaps symbolic of Liverpool’s problems as a team.
Meanwhile, City will welcome back Sergio Agüero for today’s game at home to the Reds, but captain Vincent Kompany has succumbed to another calf problem.
Agüero will start in Eastlands after six weeks out with a hamstring tear but news that central defender Kompany is back on the sidelines will concern City fans.
Spanish playmaker David Silva will also miss the game after failing to recover from an ankle problem.
City manager Manuel Pelegrini said: “Sergio is fit – he’s ready to come back.
“David continues with some small sprain in his ankle so it’s a risk for him to play. Unfortunately also, Samir Nasri is injured. (Wilfried) Bony and Vincent Kompany are also injured.
“One of the merits of this team is not just to depend on one player but of course our team is better with Sergio.”
Sterling is one player Pellegrini will have at his disposal as the 20-year-old prepares to face off against some of his for- mer teammates for the first time since his acrimonious departure in the off-season.
The match will also see midfielder James Milner return to the Etihad since leaving the Citizens for the Reds on a free transfer.
And speaking about Milner, Pellegrini insists they did all they can to keep the England international while backing Sterling to be an important player for club and country for many years to come.
“I always think that it’s special for every player to play against the team they worked for for a lot of years,” the Chilean reflected.
“For James Milner it will be exactly the same – it’s part of the career of a player.
“It was not difficult as we did all we could to convince James to stay but he wanted to go and have another challenge – we understand but we could not do any more to convince him.
“I always said for the beginning that Raheem is a very young player who must improve a lot. It’s important he must demonstrate this in every game.
“He’s just 20 years old so he has a lot of years to work. I think he will be an important player, not just for City but for England too.” – Daily Mail
JORDAN IBE: Backed to succeed
RAHEEM STERLING: Will face former teammates