CHELSEA V CITY

Manchester Evening News - - CHELSEA V CITY - By TY­RONE MAR­SHALL

PEP Guardi­ola could un­leash all three of his in-form wingers against Chelsea at Stam­ford Bridge tonight.

Ra­heem Ster­ling, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez have scored 22 goals be­tween them this sea­son and with Ser­gio Aguero side­lined for the trip to west Lon­don, the Blues boss has a de­ci­sion to make about who leads the line.

Gabriel Je­sus filled that void against Bournemouth and Wat­ford but the 21-year-old is strug­gling for form of late and he missed two ex­cel­lent chances at Vicarage Road.

The Brazil­ian has five goals in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son but he hasn’t scored in the league for 429 min­utes.

That form is in stark con­trast to Ster­ling, Sane, and Mahrez.

Ster­ling has eight league goals in 12 games this sea­son, Sane has been di­rectly in­volved in 11 goals in his last eight league starts and Mahrez has been in­volved in five goals in his last four Premier League starts.

Any of that trio would be un­for­tu­nate to be left out of the side given their form, but Guardi­ola hasn’t ruled out us­ing Ster­ling in a cen­tral role, which would al­low Sane and Mahrez to op­er­ate wide, as they did in the 2-1 win at Wat­ford.

Ster­ling played cen­trally be­hind a striker dur­ing his time at Liver­pool and while Guardi­ola prefers to use him as a winger, with his far post runs con­tribut­ing to so many of his goals, he ad­mits he could op­er­ate cen­trally as well.

“Ra­heem can play in many, many po­si­tions, three up front, can play no 10, he’s ver­sa­tile as he moves well in the three sides,” the City boss said.

“At Liver­pool he played more in the [cen­tre], with us he plays more wider. I prefer where he plays like a winger.”

When he was di­rectly asked if Ster­ling could play as the striker against Chelsea, Guardi­ola said: “The an­swer is he can play in all po­si­tions.

“I am not go­ing to tell you the po­si­tion he will play but, of course, he can play a few min­utes in the striker, he can play on the left and right.” Mean­while, Guardi­ola said City must win the Cham­pi­ons League to prove Maurizio Sarri’s claim about his side cor­rect. Ahead of City’s trip to Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day Sarri said Chelsea were fac­ing the ‘best team in Europe.’ But Guardi­ola in­sists only win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League will con­firm City as Europe’s premier club side. Guardi­ola said: “Thank you, but we are not the best. To be the best we have to win ti­tles and we haven’t done that yet.” De­spite Chelsea los­ing two of their last three fix­tures the City boss is also im­pressed how Sarri has be­gun at Stam­ford Bridge. “The job he has done so far is ex­cel­lent, peo­ple don’t know how dif­fi­cult it is to play in a spe­cial way,” he said. “Dur­ing pre-sea­son we played them in the Com­mu­nity Shield and it’s al­ready his team.” Pep Guardi­ola on Ra­heem Ster­ling

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