‘Ibeeee’ to show off ster­ling wing play against Ra­heem?

Agüero fit, but Kom­pany to miss Mil­ner’s re­turn to East­lands

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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