Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended star forward Raheem Sterling amid his recent run without scoring.
The forward enjoyed a remarkable start to the campaign and took his goalscoring tally to 20 with a brace against Wolverhampton Wanderers in December.
However, since that 3-2 defeat, the forward has failed to find the net in his past seven games, with the ruthless edge he's managed to find in recent seasons deserting him. Ahead of the Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Guardiola said he has no concerns about the England international, per Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror:
"Raheem is one of the only guys I’ve met in my career with a recovery quicker than I’ve ever seen before. It’s incredible. He could play every three days and of course the more he plays regularly the better and better he feels.
"Raheem defended brilliantly in the last game (against Manchester United) and had clear chances that no other player can create for themselves. Unfortunately he could not score a goal - but he was there, so I am more than delighted with his performance against United.
"The people with statistics with goals and assists say it has been a month but I am not judging Raheem just for that. It is important but not the only thing."
As Guardiola noted, in City's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Wednesday, Sterling was presented with a number of opportunities. However, when it came to the critical moment, the 25-year-old was hesitant with his finishing:
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Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail thinks the miss against the Red Devils epitomised a challenging spell for Sterling:
Although he's struggling to find the net, it isn't a shock that Guardiola is at ease with the winger, who's been one of the best players in the Premier League in recent years.
Whether on the left or right flank, Sterling can terrify full-backs with his shift in pace and close control. Under Guardiola, he's also developed a penchant for getting into excellent positions, meaning he often caps off some of City's sweeping attacking moves.
Per Sam Lee of The Athletic, for one reason or another, those moments aren't emerging as much for Sterling:
Guardiola will be hopeful Sterling can rediscover that edge soon, though. While the Premier League title is effectively gone, with Liverpool racing clear, City will be hopeful of challenging for the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, while they are also in the EFL Cup final.
As one of their most productive attacking players, Sterling will be key if City are to finish the season with silverware. Given the focus on him pre-match, it will be intriguing to see how he performs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, especially if a big chance comes his way.