Belfast Telegraph

Raheem Sterling: Manchester City 'up for a fight' if need be

Raheem Sterling claims Manchester City are prepared to scrap to gain the edge in their Premier League title challenge.

City boss Pep Guardiola has made clear he has no intention of abandoning his free-flowing footballing philosophy in pursuit of results.

But Sterling claims that should not be confused with a reluctance to get stuck in if opponents try to throw them with cruder tactics.

The England forward feels City showed their battling qualities with a hard-fought win at Burnley last weekend.

Sterling said: "Most of the teams that cause problems by playing more direct with long balls, etc probably think we don't fancy it, but we want to win the league so we're up for a fight.

"We're together as a whole and we know we can grind out a result. That's the most important thing.

"You're not going to win every game 4-0, 5-0. There are going to be games when you only win 1-0, 2-0 and games when you have to fight to get a goal in the last few minutes.

"So it's a credit to the team that we stuck in there to get the win at Burnley and put us in a position where when we play Chelsea we could go above them."

City host Premier League leaders Chelsea, whom they trail by just a point, in an eagerly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

The game comes at the start of a critical month in title terms with clashes against rivals Arsenal and Liverpool also in the weeks ahead.

Manager Guardiola said: "This month is so important, until the end of the year, and not just those teams. We play against the last champions, Leicester, next week and Watford at home and the other ones (Hull).

"Of course we're going to play two games at home against two real good teams and we're going to see our level, but I'm not thinking about what happens if we win or we don't win the games. I'm most thinking about what will be our level and if we will be able to fight until the last.

"I'm curious about how we compete, how our football will be against these three or four really good teams.

"After that we're going to analyse (how) to keep going until the end.

"That is what I am concerned about most in this moment. I want to see how my team react against the good teams."

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