Thursday 12 December 2019

Guardiola: We need and want Sterling

INTEREST: City ace Raheem Sterling. Pic: PA
INTEREST: City ace Raheem Sterling. Pic: PA

Pep Guardiola insists Raheem Sterling is a player Manchester City count on and wants him to stay at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling opened the scoring as the defending Premier League champions started the new campaign with a 2-0 win at Unai Emery's Arsenal.

Bernardo Silva's second-half strike wrapped up three points for the visitors, who deserved their win in north London.

Sterling has two years left to run on the five-year deal signed when he moved to City from Liverpool in July 2015.

"We are delighted with him and would like Raheem to stay," Guardiola said.

"We'll do our effort to make him feel we count on him. And we count on him.

"We arrived after a difficult season and I told him I want to help him and would like him to be happy.

"In the end, the agents may not have agreements and that may not happen.

"But he knows and his agent knows we like him and want him a lot."

Sterling's finishing has been under the microscope in the past - it is almost three years since he scored for England - and he marked his goal after just 14 minutes with a cupped ear celebration.

Sterling said: "There's been a lot of talking...it's just one of those things I get judged on. I've got to keep improving and getting more goals."

Guardiola defended Sterling's scoring record. The City boss said: "If you judge the players in the World Cup if they score a goal or not...Raheem had this special relationship with English football, but he's so loved in the locker room.

"He made some very good things in the World Cup, how he moved and created space for others. He likes to score goals and he tried, but I'm sure in the European qualifiers he will score goals for his country, England."

Emery was taking charge of Arsenal for the first time in a competitive game, succeeding Arsene Wenger following the Frenchman's near 22-year reign.

"I am happy with the players," Emery said.

"The team, for 90 minutes, they ran, they tried, they pushed, but we need to improve all collective and individual aspects.

"We have to continue working tactically and defensively, and also making shorter the difference between Manchester City and us."

Emery's Arsenal next face a London derby at Chelsea on Saturday.

Emery was unable to shed any light on the injury to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and hopes Nacho Monreal can return to training to give him an option at left-back.

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