Manchester City have a lack of natural strikers at the club but the transformation in form of Bernardo Silva should give hope to Raheem Sterling that Pep Guardiola has the right plan for him
Manchester City chalked up a routine two-goal home victory over Burnley on Saturday even if the performance was far from their vintage best.
The main dilemma for boss Pep Guardiola remains finding the best combination of attacking players in the team to compensate for the lack of a natural striker at his disposal.
It is the glaring hole in City’s squad that leaves Guardiola requiring to come up with innovative alternatives in attack to keep the side particularly dangerous in the final third.
Of the club’s last 13 competitive matches, they have failed to score in five of them while the 1-0 victories at Leicester City and Chelsea should have been more comfortable due to the chances created, while the recent 2-2 draw at Liverpool also saw glorious attacking openings spurned.
News of a lengthy injury layoff for Ferran Torres has further heightened question marks over City’s attack.
Guardiola responded on Saturday by starting Raheem Sterling in the most central role of an attacking three following a period of speculation over his future, following a dip in form at club level.
Earlier this week, Sterling told the FT Business of Sport US summit: “If there was an opportunity to go somewhere else, [for more game time], I would be open to it at this moment in time.
“As I said, football is the most important thing to me – challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well, to play abroad.
“As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I have always had something down [in me] that maybe one day I would love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge.
“I’m not a person that’s going to complain. I’ve not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is.”
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Guardiola responded to these quotes in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s win over Burnley : “Raheem is our player, hopefully he will be an incredibly important player for us. I don’t know if he wants to play more.”
It was not Sterling who was City’s most impressive attacking player on Saturday but Bernardo Silva, who opened the scoring and put in another attacking performance.
Silva is not a prolific goal scorer – he has never hit double figures in a single league campaign and scored just twice in the Premier League last season, yet he is exactly the player whom City now need to step up in terms of goal output.
The Portugal international was almost sold this summer; offered to Spurs in part-exchange for Harry Kane while there was interest from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
That Silva has transformed his fortunes at the Etihad from being on the peripheries of the first-team squad to a key attacking figure should give hope to Sterling.
It is further evidence that Guardiola is willing to give players a chance to regain their starting spot and amid their current attacking situation, Sterling has every chance to transform his fortunes at the club and become a pivotal player in the weeks ahead.