Belfast Telegraph

Raheem Sterling focus as Manchester City man struggles on Anfield return

Raheem Sterling returned to face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday for the first time since his acrimonious £49million transfer to Manchester City last summer.

Here, Press Association Sport analyses the City forward's performance.

ROLE

As in the Capital One Cup final against the same opponents at Wembley on Sunday, Sterling played on the left of an attacking trio behind lone striker Sergio Aguero. It is a role he has played for most of the season but, unlike at the weekend, he was unable to get into the game.

CROWD REACTION

Predictably Sterling's name was booed when the teams were read out and the player himself had the same treatment with almost every touch. The chant in which Liverpool fans make clear they believe greed was the chief motivation behind Sterling's move was also sung loud and clear a few times. Yet, while the home fans' dislike of him was obvious, it was not a reception of outright hostility. In fact, Wembley was probably more vitriolic.

POSITIONING

Sterling took up his usual positions on the left and tried to cut inside when he could, but he was well shackled by former team-mate Jon Flanagan. It seemed as if Flanagan was brought into the side at right-back solely to deal with Sterling and it was a challenge he readily accepted. Flanagan won their duel, which Manuel Pellegrini called a halt to at half-time. Flanagan let Sterling know he was there with a good early tackle, later bundled him off the ball and then slid in to deny him a shooting chance. Only once did Sterling seem to get the better of him.

CHANCES

Sterling's only sight of goal came from long distance but his overly optimistic effort sailed well wide into the Kop, much to the delight of the supporters in it. The City forward did get into a good position to finish from a fine Aguero break but Flanagan intercepted.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

There were big cheers from the Liverpool fans when it was announced at the start of the second half that Sterling was being substituted. The England international had a quiet night and got little change out of Flanagan. This was the third game against his former club this season in which Sterling has failed to make a big impression.

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