He should have scored and will kick himself when watching the highlights of his chances at the London Stadium, but there is a silver lining to Raheem Sterling’s series of squandered shots.
Ahead of the World Cup in Russia, the England attacker is getting into the right places at the right time. Sure, his finishing requires practice, but Gareth Southgate has plenty of positives to focus on.
Sterling has already scored 18 times in the Premier League this season and against West Ham, he turned provider with three assists and an integral part played in Manchester City’s fourth goal.
Raheem Sterling showed promising signs ahead of World Cup despite squandering chances
Of course, Pep Guardiola would have liked Sterling to score, particularly given he had two one-on-ones with Adrian over the course of 90 minutes. There were several other half-chances that, on another day, he could have slotted into the back of the West Ham net.
But still, the 23-year-old was at the heart of this win for City as the champions chase down several Premier League records. He was always available for the ball, always interested in being involved.
It was a performance that showed Sterling’s relentlessness. He ran, ran, then ran some more as West Ham struggled to contain the youngster, right up to stoppage time.
Sterling stepped up to provide multiple assists although he did miss some one-on-one’s
Sterling told Thierry Henry in a Sky interview last week that it is only a ‘matter of time’ before he becomes more clinical and begins finishing his chances in front of goal.
‘My problem is that when I have too much time to think, that’s when I mess up,’ he said. ‘If it is more instinctive with less time to think, I am much better.’
Sterling assisted Leroy Sane for his heavily-deflected opener then was behind their second goal, though should have scored it himself.
Adrian came flying out to try to beat Sterling to a through-ball but was too slow. He curled a shot that was blocked by Angelo Ogbonna but City scored in the aftermath nonetheless.
Sterling set up Fernandinho for City’s fourth goal as they beat West Ham 4-1 in London
For City’s third goal, Sterling held the ball up and waited for his chance to feed a team-mate. He found Gabriel Jesus, who controlled and scored.
City then felt they should have had a penalty when Aaron Cresswell slid in on Sterling, wiping out his feet. Guardiola felt it was stonewall. Referee Neil Swarbrick did not.
And City’s fourth goal was assisted by you-know-who too as the gaping goal was put on a plate for Fernandinho. Job done.
Sterling left the London Stadium feeling he should have scored himself but this was no bad day at the office. He is very much a reason to get excited for England this summer.
Sterling was also unlucky not to get a penalty when Aaron Cresswell slid in and missed the ball