Time for Sterling to show up at Anfield?
Raheem Sterling makes another return to old club Liverpool on Sunday but will the Manchester City star finally enjoy himself back at Anfield?
Sterling, who has recently been linked with Real Madrid, was part of Liverpool’s title near-miss under Brendan Rodgers in 2013-14 and was just beginning to blossom into the outstanding forward he now is before he angered Reds fans with a move to rivals City in the summer of 2015.
No-one can argue his decision to make the £50million switch hasn’t paid off as the England man is now one of the biggest stars in the Premier League. He has improved year-on-year at the Etihad under Pep Guardiola’s expert guidance but he’s never been able to truly enjoy facing his former club back on Merseyside, with his appearances at Anfield in recent years usually ending in frustration and his performances not matching his devastating form generally in other games.
The 24-year-old has failed to score in any of the Premier League matches he’s played in against Liverpool and he’s had to face the wrath of the home fans in the pantomime villain role, being booed mercilessly by the same supporters who backed him when he first burst onto the scene as a raw teenager in 2012.
Sterling was embarrassingly subbed at half-time in March 2016 on his first return to Anfield after an anonymous display, and was also hauled off in the second half of the memorable 4-3 encounter in January 2018 when failing to shine. He was then named only on the bench for the Champions League defeat later that year, coming on after the break with City already 3-0 down, while a familiar fate awaited him last autumn in the goalless draw. Yes, you’ve guessed it – Sterling was substituted in the 76th minute having had little impact.
However, he finally broke his duck for City against his former club when he notched the opener in the Community Shield at Wembley in August and maybe he’s ready to break from the shackles that seem to have contained and restricted him when running out at Anfield in City’s colours.
Admittedly, scoring in the traditional season curtain-raiser does not carry the same gravitas as a goal at The Kop end would, but so good has Sterling been for City this season that surely it’s time for him to show his top form against Jurgen Klopp’s men when it really matters in Sunday’s huge title showdown?
Sterling has hit seven league goals already and will likely again be a contender for the personal awards at the end of the season if he maintains his current form. His collection of two league titles, three League Cups and one FA Cup while at City underlines why he was right to move on from Liverpool four and a bit years ago but he must be desperate to shut up the Anfield boo-boys once and for all.