Familiar foe Sterling the prime threat to Liverpool’s title charge

Sterling shot to fame as a teenager in the 2013/14 season as a rollercoaster ride took Liverpool agonisingly close to ending their long wait to win a league title. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Familiar foe Sterling the prime threat to Liverpool’s title charge

  • Sterling has flourished under Pep Guardiola

LONDON: Manchester City and Liverpool’s ascension to the two top dogs in the Premier League has seen every meeting in recent seasons met with increasing animosity, ahead of Sunday’s latest battle for supremacy.

No player bears the brunt of that bad blood more than Raheem Sterling on his return to Anfield.

Sterling shot to fame as a teenager in the 2013/14 season as a rollercoaster ride took Liverpool agonisingly close to ending their long wait to win a league title.

Two years later, he left in acrimonious circumstances with Liverpool going backwards on the field and disputes over his contract off it.

Four-and-a-half years on, there is no doubt who got the better end of the £50 million deal that took him to City.

Sterling has flourished under Pep Guardiola, becoming a vital part of City's two title-winning campaigns in the last two seasons, while Liverpool’s wait for a league crown has now stretched to 30 years.

The England international is one of many tales of what might have been for Liverpool over the past three decades, but is also symbolic of how times have changed at Anfield.

Sterling left just three months before Jurgen Klopp arrived to revitalise the Reds after a season in which they finished sixth, 17 points behind City.

Liverpool have still yet to finish above the English champions in Klopp's four seasons in charge, but the gap was down to a single point as City edged a titanic title race last season. And it is Liverpool who will start Sunday's top-of-the-table clash with an early six-point lead over City in the title race.

Sterling cannot be faulted for a sloppier start to the season by Guardiola's men after two near-perfect campaigns.

For club and country, Sterling has already scored 18 goals in 20 appearances, including his first against Liverpool as City won the Community Shield in August.

“All the credit is for him,” said Guardiola after Sterling's recent Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta. 

“His physicality is incredible. He’s strong the day after the game, he could play another game. He can play on both sides, is fast, defensively help us a lot, so is an extraordinary player.”

Sterling's input at both ends of the field will be key if City are to somehow halt Liverpool's momentum and inflict a first league defeat at Anfield for the hosts since April 2017.

City's defence has been decimated by a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte, while goalkeeper Ederson is a doubt.

Attack is likely to be the best form of defense for the visitors, but Sterling will also be forced to keep an eye on one of Liverpool’s most potent attacking outlets in right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“He’s crucial for us, you need this type of player, a game-changing player, and he is probably the one player who can change everything for us,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan on Sterling's influence.


Daniil Medvedev wins inaugural Diriyah Tennis Cup final in Saudi Arabia

Updated 15 December 2019

Daniil Medvedev wins inaugural Diriyah Tennis Cup final in Saudi Arabia

  • The Saudi event makes history as the first to use Hawk-Eye Live technology

RIYADH: Daniil Medvedev has won the inaugural $1 million Diriyah Tennis Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Medvedev beat Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2 in Saturday’s final.

Earlier in the tournament he beat Jan-Lennard Struff and Belgium’s David Goffin — also in straight sets.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup, sponsored by Saudi Aramco, will certainly go down in history as eight of the world’s best tennis stars met in the Diriyah Arena for the first international tournament played in the Kingdom.

The event also made tennis history as not only the first in Saudi Arabia, but also one of the first to use Hawk-Eye Live technology.

Replacing the need for line judges and providing more accuracy, Hawk-Eye Live sends visual and audio cues to the chair umpire and off-court monitors within a tenth of a second of a ball bouncing, to show faults and out-of-bounds shots without relying on the naked eye.

In the first of the two semifinals, Fognini overcame the spirited efforts of the ever-entertaining Frenchman Gael Monfils.

In the second semifinal, Medvedev — a standout performer on the ATP Tour in 2019 — maintained his remarkable form to outgun David Goffin, 6-3, 6-3 to ease his way into Saturday’s historic final.

BACKGROUND

The Diriyah Tennis Cup, sponsored by Saudi Aramco, will go down in history as eight of the world’s best tennis stars met in the Diriyah Arena for the first international tournament played in the Kingdom.

The Russian has won four titles in 2019 in Sofia, in Cincinnati, in St. Petersburg and in Shanghai. 

He was the finalist in Brisbane, Barcelona, Washington, Montreal and at the US Open.

Ranked No.5, Medvedev played his last match on Nov. 15 when he was defeated by Alexander Zverev in London.

The first day as part of a three-day tournament saw all eight players in action.

First up on court was Italian Fabio Fognini taking on American John Isner, ranked no. 19 and the holder of the third fastest serve of all time in men’s tennis.

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