English Premiership

'Obsessed' Sterling targets derby joy

2019-12-07 09:44
Raheem Sterling and Pep Guardiola
Raheem Sterling and Pep Guardiola (Getty Images)

Manchester - Manchester City frontman Raheem Sterling admitted on Friday that he is now "obsessed" with football as he prepares to take on neighbours Manchester United.

With 15 goals this season, and starring roles for City and England, Sterling said he had undergone a lifestyle transformation.

"I think now I'm living for football. I'm obsessed with football, obsessed with scoring goals, obsessed with recovering quicker, and obsessed with improving myself.

"You have every facility here so you have to use it to the best of your advantage to try and be the best you can be.

"I was decisive, but I wasn't 100 percent committed. I wasn't 100 percent living the way I should be living to be a professional footballer and that would give me an edge on a match day.

"I realised that and changed it. You see the improvements on the pitch and so that's why you continue to do it," added the 24-year-old.

Defending champions City go into Saturday's derby 11 points ahead of United in the table, but also 11 behind leaders Liverpool.

"We just need to keep winning games and hope they (Liverpool) lose some. It's as simple as that," said Sterling.

"They're playing some good football at the moment, but it's a long season. We have got to keep winning, keep believing."

Meanwhile coach Pep Guardiola says United may have won more trophies than City in their history, but his side are the "better" side now.

As the neighbours prepare to meet in the 179th derby, the Catalan was keen to stress City's current standing, especially since he took charge in 2016.

Successive Premier League titles, and a current 11-point advantage in the table, have highlighted the Etihad outfit's recent dominance when compared to United's league record and the last of their 20 top-flight championships being secured in 2013.

Asked if he was disappointed that there was no title rivalry since his arrival, Guardiola said: "No, I prefer it.

"My reflection is that we were better. In the time I've been here, we've been better than United. We were so consistent in all departments, especially in the last two seasons.

"It surprised me, too. But we are not here to judge the results or what distance there is between teams or the past or the future.

"Listen, for United's fans, they'll always be the biggest club. For the City fans, they'll always be the biggest club."

What Guardiola is more concerned with currently is why leaders Liverpool have an 11-point advantage over City and how they can reduce the deficit.

"I would like to discover the reason for this big gap with Liverpool," he added.

"One is, no doubt, the quality of the opponent. I repeat, one lost game in almost 60, the numbers are incredible.

"When I review all the games we've played, even (the defeat to) Norwich, we created 20 shots. I know the stats, we are the best team by far at creating chances and the best team by far at conceding few.

"Much better than the opponents, but we are 11 points behind. So something has happened. Sometimes, it's human. We can do better. There's something we missed and, honestly, I don't know."

 

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Fixtures
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur, Vicarage Road 14:30
Norwich City v AFC Bournemouth, Carrow Road 17:00
Arsenal v Sheffield United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Etihad Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v Everton, London Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Chelsea, St. James' Park 19:30
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Burnley v Leicester City, Turf Moor 16:00
Liverpool v Manchester United, Anfield 18:30
Tuesday, 21 January 2020
Sheffield United v Manchester City, Bramall Lane 21:30
Everton v Newcastle United, Goodison Park 21:30
Crystal Palace v Southampton, Selhurst Park 21:30
Aston Villa v Watford, Villa Park 21:30
AFC Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion, Vitality Stadium 21:30
Chelsea v Arsenal, Stamford Bridge 22:15
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