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Raheem Sterling: We need to win & make a statement

BATTLE CRY: Raheem Sterling has told journalists Saturday's game with Chelsea is must win.

BATTLE CRY: Raheem Sterling has told journalists Saturday's game with Chelsea is must win.

Unsurprisingly, Saturday’s showdown with top of the table Chelsea kicks off this morning’s round-up of the back pages.

The media focus will only intensify once this afternoon’s press conference is complete, but Friday’s narrative starts with a rallying cry from Raheem Sterling and reports that City have an international duo on their radar.

As is customary before big games, Sky Sports have sat down with a man who could well be one of the weekend’s main protagonists.

Geoff Shreeves spoke with Sterling before Saturday's early kick off and in a wide-ranging interview the winger states the Blues are under no illusions as to the importance of this fixture and also the significance of the festive period.

"It's a game we need to win to be taken even more seriously and make a statement,” his quotes read.

“They are playing great football, scoring lots of goals and conceding very few, but we are fully focused and the manager is getting us ready and prepared.

"Christmas every year seems to be the most important period and this time around it is massive.

"We have some of the big teams so it's a period where we need to be fully focused and know exactly what we need to do to come out in good shape after Christmas."

To transfers now and with journalists readying themselves for 1 January, they’re linking City with a move for both Virgil van Dijk and William Carvalho.

The Dutchman’s impressive start to the campaign makes him a New Year target, according to the Daily Mail’s Dominic King, who writes: “The Southampton defender has seen his reputation enhanced significantly this season and City have scouted him extensively in recent weeks; they had a representative at St Mary's for the recent 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

“He is a prime target for January and Southampton are bracing themselves for offers when the window opens.”

The same story would also have you believe that Portugal’s Carvalho could also be on his way to East Manchester, but this time King suggests a move for the midfielder would not materialise until the start of the 2017/18 season.

“City are firm admirers of the 24-year-old, who has been linked in the past with Manchester United and Arsenal and it is understood that his representatives held preliminary discussions about a move to the Premier League next summer in Barcelona on Thursday.”

Meanwhile, with Saturday’s match already being billed as a title decider, Sky Sports’ Phil Thompson has been assessing the Blues’ credentials.

Picking out Sergio Aguero as Pep Guardiola’s most important player, City’s goal threat is their biggest strength, according to the pundit.

“Manchester City's title hopes are going to come down to how many goals Aguero's supporting cast can score,” he analyses.

Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling's goals seem to have dried up of late but you'd assume they'll come good. The return of Yaya Toure gives them another fantastic option. He looks fresh and more energetic than he has before, which is a huge boost for them.”

That's where we finish today, Blues, but we've plenty more coming up on mancity.com. Stick with us for Pep's press conference, our look at Saturday's key battles and action from the training ground.

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