It’s been another fine start to the season for Raheem Sterling. Whether he plays out wide or through the centre, he continually provides quality on the ball and a threat in front of goal, and over the past 18 months, he’s made himself indispensable for City and England.
He’s been involved in six goals (four goals and two assists) in seven Premier League matches so far this term, an impressive return. But, of course, that level of productivity is nothing new for Sterling. He managed 23 in 43 matches in all competitions last season, supplying 17 assists along the way. Given his role as a wide forward, those are seriously impressive numbers that underline his match-winning capabilities and growing belief.
His first of the season away at Arsenal - his 50th Premier League goal - was perhaps his best of the campaign so far. He cut inside past Hector Bellerin and Matteo Guendouzi before unleashing a powerful low drive into the bottom corner. Petr Cech had no chance, and City's dominance was rightfully rewarded. Given his World Cup involvement, his performance at the Emirates was sensational and spoke volumes about his fitness and professionalism.
His pace stretches teams and his ability to go past defenders is vital in creating space. But it’s his flexibility that is perhaps his most potent weapon. He can play on the left, the right or through the centre, giving Guardiola plenty of options. If Leroy Sane isn’t available, Sterling can offer pace down the left. If City’s strikers are unavailable, he can play as a False 9. It’s a key reason he has become indispensable.
And on Monday evening, he scored two goals for England as they won in Spain for the first time since 1987.
His first saw him finish off a fine team move started by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The Everton man floated a brilliant pass into the path of Harry Kane, creating a three-on-three scenario. Kane immediately fed Marcus Rashford, who played a brilliant through-ball to Sterling, whose movement bought him some space. He took a superb first touch that took the ball away from Marcos Alonso, before rifling the ball into the top corner past David De Gea, who was rooted to the spot. It was a magical, world-class finish that already feels like an iconic England moment.
His second was a poacher's goal - a tap-in from a few yards out - and his movement and running power gave Spain all sorts of problems. In short, he terrorised the Spanish defence in the opening 45 minutes and set England on their way to a historic victory - Spain's first defeat at home in a competitive match for 15 years.
Those were Sterling's first England goals in three years, a period that saw him make 27 international appearances. His performances at the World Cup were excellent, but without scoring, some doubted his contribution. This performance will do much to silence the doubters.
Sterling is capable of reaching even greater heights in the coming months and years. He is strong, quick, times his runs into the box beautifully and scores plenty of goals. What more does one want from a modern-day forward?