Raheem Sterling

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Watford

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  • Manchester City looking to bounce back after stunning loss to Norwich City
  • Watford enjoyed thrilling comeback draw last weekend v. Arsenal
  • Manchester City have won their last 11 meetings with Watford in all competitions, scoring at least twice in each match and 38 times in total. 
  • This will be the fourth managerial meeting between Pep Guardiola and Sanchez Flores but the first in England. Sanchez Flores won the first match as Atletico Madrid manager in February 2010 against Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Coming off the club’s first Premier League in 19 matches last weekend, Manchester City returns home to the friendly confines of the Etihad Stadium to face a team they’re quite familiar with in Watford. (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

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Man City of course obliterated Watford, 6-0, in the FA Cup final last May, but it’s a new Watford with Quique Sanchez Flores in charge. Watford as well looked the best it had all season in the second half of last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, though that very easily could have just been because Arsenal’s midfield was non-existent in that half.

In any case, it all shapes up to be an exciting match, especially if new Watford signing Ismalia Sarr can get a start and run at Man City’s makeshift backline. Then again, if Raheem Sterling is back to his usual clinical self, it could be a long afternoon again for the Hornets.

Injuries/suspensions

Manchester City: OUT – Aymeric Laporte (knee), John Stones (thigh), Leroy Sane (knee); QUESTIONABLE – Phil Foden (illness)

Watford: OUT – Craig Cathcart (muscle), Isaac Success (groin), Troy Deeney (knee)


Projected lineups

Manchester City: Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko – Gundogan, Rodri, Silva – Sterling – Aguero, De Bruyne

Watford: Foster – Femenia, Dawson, Kabasele, Holebas – Capoue, Cleverly, Dacoure – Pereyra, Sarr, Deulofeu

What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on striker Gabriel Jesus after his goal in mid-week v. Shakhtar Donetsk: “It’s difficult to find anywhere in the world a striker like Gabriel. The number nine for Brazil, his behaviour in training is outstanding and he has to fight with one of the best strikers I have ever seen in my life in Aguero [for a place in the side]. I will not find a player like Gabriel. To sub Sergio you have to have a top player. I am so delighted with the strikers. When Gabriel plays, he does absolutely everything. Like he did in Ukraine, not just for the goal, he fights and plays.”

Quique Sanchez Flores, on last week’s comeback v. Arsenal: “We have good feelings. We need to make sure we don’t go too much about this match as the next one is completely different. It is not a time to talk about how many shots or how many attempts we had. It is time to be realistic. We still need to change the dynamic – this is the first step and then change for the next opponent.”


Prediction

Manchester City will be ultra focused this weekend to get back to winning ways, and even with a makeshift centerback duo, there’s still more than enough attacking firepower to demolish Watford. The Hornets looked better last week after making the coaching change during the international break, but this will be a step back for Watford.

Man City 3-0 Watford

Bournemouth punishes sloppy Everton

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Callum Wilson scored twice as Bournemouth stung sloppy Everton 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Ryan Fraser also scored for the Cherries, who rise eighth on 7 points to move ahead of the visitors on goal differential.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s only marker, as the Toffees fail in a bid to join the Top Four.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Three things we learned

1. Marco’s mercurial men: A lot has been made of Marco Silva‘s up-and-down tenure as Everton boss, especially given the club’s wealth of talent. That was again on display, as mistakes overrode Everton’s control of the match for most of the first hour. Keep in mind, though, that the inconsistency has plagued the Toffees since well before Silva came to town. That may not save him.

2. Ramsdale the difference: Eddie Howe trusted 21-year-old Aaron Ramsdale as his No. 1 goalkeeper despite a total of 44 senior appearances in his locker and none above the Championship level (aside from a pair of FA Cup dates). He was calm, decisive, and sturdy. He’s yet to keep a clean sheet, but that’s no matter on the day.

3. Wilson in form:  Callum Wilson’s second and third goals of the season showed his versatility, with a snapped header in a sea of bodies to open the scoring and a long run to beat Pickford on his second. He now has three goals in his last two performances after scoring against Leicester City.

Man of the Match: Ramsdale — Again, this could have easily been 3-1 in the other direction had Ramsdale not mopped up some silly, silly mistakes of his teammates.


Philip Billing fizzed a shot wide of the near post inside of the first 10 minutes, while at the other end Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale raced to beat Dominic Calvert-Lewin to a loose ball.

The 19th minute saw Richarlison smash a dipping effort off the top of the cross bar.

Ex-Toffees man Dominic Solanke ripped a shot that Jordan Pickford poked over the bar in the 22nd, and Bournemouth got on the board off the ensuing corner kick when Wilson snapped his neck to power the ball past Pickford.

Richarlison was at it again in the 37th, but couldn’t head Lucas Digne‘s cross inside the near post.

Everton leveled the score when Seamus Coleman spotted Richarlison’s run down the right side and the Brazilian crossed for a powerful Dominic Calvert-Lewin finish.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Ramsdale made a terrific save after Digne and Iwobi combined to cue up a Gylfi Sigurdsson rip in the 47th minute. And Steve Cook made a terrible back pass that helped Richarlison to a chance, but Ramsdale was up to the challenge.

Fraser’s goal came from a set piece, as he swept a free kick toward goal and Fabian Delph couldn’t get purchase on a chance to clear it. It changed direction a little, but Pickford may not have had a chance to save it either way.

It was 3-1 moments later, as Yerry Mina and/or Michael Keane switched off to allow Wilson to race toward a stunned Pickford, who could not react to the break.

Ramsdale then denied Alex Iwobi with a terrific save from 18 yards, and Richarlison couldn’t put the rebound on goal.

Premier League Preview: Norwich City v. Man City

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  • Man City unbeaten, but 2nd in the PL
  • Norwich, behind Pukki’s production, a tough team to beat
  • First meeting since a 0-0 draw on March 3, 2016

While very little has been surprising about Manchester City’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, the same can’t be said of Norwich City’s first four games since returning to England’s top flight — particularly the goal-scoring exploits of Teemu Pukki. The two-time defending champions visit the newly promoted Canaries on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

Man City enter Matchweek 5 in second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool, and have conceded just three goals in four games (two came in one game, their lone draw of the season, against Tottenham Hotspur). Sergio Aguero (six) and Raheem Sterling (five) have combined to score 11 of City’s 13 goals thus far. Arguably the most lethal attacking duo in the world at the moment, Aguero and Sterling will be anxious to face the PL’s worst defensive record (10 goals conceded) on Saturday. In red-hot form, Sterling scored one and assisted on three others in England’s 5-3 victory over Kosovo on Tuesday.

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Though Norwich enter Sunday’s clash at Carrow in 19th place, the route by which they arrived in the relegation zone has surprised many. Thrashed by Liverpool on the opening day, the general consensus was that Daniel Farke‘s side acquitted itself well. Then came a resounding 3-1 victory over Newcastle United, highlighted by Pukki’s hat trick. Again, Norwich were hardly dominated in a loss to Chelsea before finally being comprehensively outplayed by West Ham United just before the international break. Pukki has five goals of Norwich’s six goals and was named the PL Player of the Month for August, leaving many to wonder how much longer he can keep up the magic, and whether or not they can survive if his well of goals dries up.

Injuries/suspensions

Norwich: OUT – Tom Trybull (ankle), Christoph Zimmermann (foot), Onel Hernandez (knee), Timm Klose (knee)

Man City: OUT – Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Benjamin Mendy (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – John Stones (thigh), Ilkay Gundogan (illness)


Projected lineups

Norwich: Krul – Byram, Amadou, Godfrey, Lewis – Drmic Leitner – Buendia, Stieperman, Cantwell – Pukki

Man City: Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko – Rodrigo, Silva, De Bruyne – Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on Sterling reaching the level of Messi and Ronaldo: “They scored 50 or 60 goals a season in the last decade, and have won the Ballon d’Or and prizes every year except this one. They are legends, something unique in world football. If Raheem can target that level, wow. Of course, he can do it and I won’t be the guy to tell him his limits. But right now, nobody — at any club — can compare with these two guys what they do every week for a decade. Nobody can compare.”

Daniel Farke, on the challenge of facing Man City: “Some lads are nervous, you can tell. It’s normal and it’s up to me to give them some trust and confidence. We should go into the game with nothing to lose. I will back my lads whatever happens tomorrow. I want them to be brave. They should have no regrets.”


Prediction

All 11 Norwich players could turn in the performance of their lives, and City could still win 3-1. The gap between “two-time defending champions” and “just arrived in the big time” is massive, and Saturday’s clash should highlight the disparity. 3-1, Man City.

Is Raheem Sterling the best winger on the planet?

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Raheem Sterling has now scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for England, and he put in a stunning display as they beat Kosovo 5-3 in an enthralling EURO 2020 qualifier in Southampton on Tuesday.

Sterling, 24, scored one and added three assists in the first half as his blistering pace ripped Kosovo to shreds and his newfound confidence in front of goal has been clear for all to see in the Premier League.

So far this season he’s scored eight goals in seven games for club and country, but many still believe he can improve his finishing and passing around the penalty box.

The improvement with his decision-making on the final pass or ball has been sensational since Pep Guardiola arrived as City’s manager and his current England boss Gareth Southgate believes he is now virtually unplayable.

“Our attacking play from Raheem, Jadon [Sancho] and Harry [Kane] was outstanding. Raheem’s two performances have been of the highest level,” Southgate said. “I think he’s been almost unstoppable, his awareness of where defenders were, his ability to ride challenges, his vision and desire to get in on goal, and unselfish play as well, so I couldn’t speak highly enough of the way he played.”

Kosovo manager Bernard Challandes also lavished praise on Sterling, saying he is now among the best players on the planet.

“It is impossible to play against him,” Challandes said. “I know Sterling in the past was very speedy but the last choice or shot was not good. Now he is incredible. He has learned a lot from Guardiola and is one of the best players in the world now.”

Aside from all of the wonderful things he is doing off the pitch, where does Sterling rank among the best wingers in the world right now?

In his position he is in the top five, there’s no doubt about that. Which other wingers have his output combined with the pace and power that frighten the life out of opposition defenders?

Kylian Mbappe is obviously the top man, but he often plays centrally for PSG and France, while Sterling’s teammates at City, Bernando Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane, are also in the conversation. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are the main contenders to be crowned the top wide players on the planet, and Jadon Sancho, Sterling’s England teammate is a star in the making at the age of 19.

Sterling set up Sancho for his first two England goals on Tuesday and the duo support Kane superbly in attack for England. Sterling’s improved goal tally is important, but his understanding of the game under Guardiola, especially when it comes to when to make his runs forward, are perhaps his biggest improvement.

He is the main man for England right now. There is no doubt about that. And the fact he is only 24 and already has 53 caps to his name is frightening.

Sterling’s form for Man City has been consistently excellent, as he has scored 48 goals in 97 appearances in all competitions over the past two seasons.

That incredible return means Sterling has cemented himself into the conversation as being the best winger on the planet.

EURO 2020 qualifying wrap: Ronaldo puts up four v. Lithuania

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The Three Lions stayed unbeaten in qualifying thanks to goals from Premier League and Bundesliga stars, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored another hat trick.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Lo Celso injured ]

Both were a part of EURO 2020 qualification on Tuesday.

England 5-3 Kosovo

A wild one, indeed.

Valon Berisha scored a first minute goal for the visitors, who fell behind 5-1 by the break thanks to Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, an own goal, and a Jadon Sancho brace.

But the Lazio man didn’t quit, scoring in the 49th minute and seeing his side pull to within two via a Vedat Muriqi 55th minute goal.

The drama took another step up when Man City property Arijanet Muric stopped a Harry Kane penalty to keep the deficit at two.

Sancho’s goals were his first and second for the Three Lions.

Lithuania 1-5 Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo had no pity on the minnows, added a trio of goals to his seventh minute penalty in a demolition of Lithuania.

It was his eighth international hat trick, as Lithuania joins Andorra, Switzerland, Spain, the Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Armenia, and Sweden on an illustrious list

Adding the comedy was the identity of the Lithuania goal scorer: one-time Portland Timbers defender Vytautas Andriuškevičius, who scored his first goal in 31 caps.

William Carvalho scored Portugal’s other goal deep in stoppage time.

Elsewhere

Moldova 0-4 Turkey
Albania 4-2 Iceland
Luxembourg 1-3 Serbia
Montenegro 0-3 Czech Republic
France 3-0 Andorra