CHELSEA V CITY
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