Thursday, 6 February 2014

Sterling & Monreal undercard could be box office

With Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho on one side and Mesut Ozil, Santi Carzola, Lukas Podoloski and Oliver Giroud on the other, the Liverpool and Arsenal clash will have plenty of entertainment.

The aforementioned septet have scored 72 goals between them, set up 36 goals and have a total of 709 fantasy football points today– they are every fans and fantasy football players dream.

However on Saturday they could be overshadowed by a player that has impressed and matured this season, Raheem Sterling.

The 19 year old has scored more fantasy football points then Coutinho and Podolski and at £5.3 million is he a snip – so far this season he has scored 3 goals and contributed 2.

Of the 19 appearances he has made this season, 13 have been starts and the majority of them have come since the end of November.

The England starlet got his chance due to the injury sustained by Daniel Sturridge in November and such has been his form that he has kept his place on the right of the attack.  
Interestingly for a young player eager to impress, Sterling has made more of a contribution when he has started compared to when he appears as a substitute – all his goals and assists have come when he has been on from the start.

Sterling is a player with blistering pace that likes to dribble which can only mean two things – he can beat a man and if he doesn’t, the chances are he will win a free.

With an 81.3% pass success rate, Sterling likes a short pass, and a new found ability to track back, he has become a vital cog in the Liverpool team. He averages 1.6 tackles a game, 1.8 when he is in front of his own fans.

With all the hype that currently exists over one Adnan Januzaj it is interesting to note that they share the same tally for the season, although the Serbian/Belgian potentially English star is fouled more often than his counterpart.

One of the more noticeable attributes that Sterling has shown this season has been increased belief and self-confidence. The finishing looks more composed and the final ball looks better – the improvements on last season when both were rushed are plain to see.

Much of those improvements are down to Brendan Rodgers and his management of the player. Negative headlines looked set to derail Sterling before he got started but he has knuckled down and heeded the advice given.

On Saturday Sterling will be more than likely up against Nacho Monreal.

The Spanish defender has played his part in an Arsenal defender that has only conceded three goals in 2014. He has started the last five games and has kept clean sheets in three of them.

According to stats on Here is the City Monreal averages .88 interceptions, has caused errors leading to 3 shots on goal and wins .94 tackles a game, stats lower than Keiran Gibbs, although he is a much better blocker than his English counterpart.

While Monreal is certainly an impressive part of the Arsenal backline he does not appear to carry the same stature as Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny and if there is a chink in the chain it would appear to be the former Malaga man.

That means that Sterling will have a very large part to play.

The emergence of Jon Flanagan as a strong defensive option means that Sterling, whilst still able to track back, has more freedom than when he plays alongside the more forward thinking Glen Johnson - meaning that Monreal will be stifled as an attacking force.

Despite the many intriguing battles on the field this Saturday, the Sterling/Monreal undercard could yet be box office.  

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