Raheem Sterling hails ‘great understanding’ between Man City defenders

Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
·3-min read

Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game as Manchester City continued their winning streak with victory at Arsenal but has singled out his defensive team-mates for praise.

City extended their winning run to 18 games in all competitions as Sterling’s second-minute header was enough for them to leave the Emirates Stadium with a 1-0 success.

It leaves Pep Guardiola’s men 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and favourites to land a third title in four years.

City have averaged two goals a game from their 25 league outings so far – a number only bettered by their neighbours and nearest challengers Manchester United.

But an improved defence, with summer signing Ruben Dias forging a fine understanding alongside John Stones, has seen the leaders concede just 15 goals.

“The two centre-halves, their partnership has been great this season,” Sterling told mancity.com.

“They have a great understanding – even with Aymeric (Laporte) there’s a really good unity and bond there.

“They’re trying to keep clean sheets and it’s a credit to them. It’s even better now because we had a difficult start to the season, it was something we’re not used to.

“We weren’t scoring as many goals as we’re used to and it’s a credit to the team that we started to dig results out. That’s the sign of a winning team that you have to dig results out.”

Sterling also echoed the sentiments of Guardiola by praising Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta – who previously worked as assistant at City.

“Mikel worked with us for plenty of years,” he added.

Sterling scored the only goal of the game in the second minute.
Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game against Arsenal in the second minute. (Julian Finney/PA)

“He knows exactly our strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent plenty of time to see how to stop us and find gaps in our team – he made it difficult for us.”

“I think any team you go to now, you can lose the game. We have just got to keep our focus and onto the next one.”

Arsenal were caught out with Sterling’s early goal but did not crumble and dragged themselves back into the contest.

While they never really looked like drawing level, the Gunners avoided the sort of heavy loss which they have suffered on a regular basis against City.

Speaking after the game Arteta bemoaned a slow start to the match and defender Pablo Mari felt it ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides.

“I think the beginning of the game we were not 100 per cent ready,” he said.

“We conceded a goal and with this kind of opponent if you concede almost nothing they can create a chance and they can score.

Pablo Mari (left) returned to the Arsenal team but could not prevent a defeat.
Pablo Mari (left) returned to the Arsenal team but could not prevent a defeat against Manchester City (Shaun Botterill/PA)

“So we have to be ready in the beginning and we didn’t do that and in the end we lose a game where I think we deserve a bit more.

“They are so difficult to play against, I think they are one of the best teams in the world.

“They rotate a lot in the final third so it is so difficult to pick a man to follow because they go really, really deep and if you follow them you lose your position.

“I think in the game we resolved this well because we had a lot of communication there and so the team did really well there and I’m really proud for everyone because in the end it was a good game.”