Manchester City favourites to win the title
MANCHESTER: Raheem Sterling is looking to add to his best-ever goal-scoring tally as Manchester City attempt to improve on their own record-breaking Premier League start. Pep Guardiola’s dazzling side host Southampton today having already accumulated an unprecedented 37 points from their opening 13 games. Sterling was the key man in Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win at Huddersfield Town, winning a penalty that was converted by Sergio Aguero and then netting a late winner.
That took his goal total to 12 in all competitions, a figure the England winger has never previously managed over an entire campaign. Sterling said calmness under pressure had been a key factor in his improvement in front of goal, but refused to reveal how many goals he had targeted before the season kicked off.
“I just get in the box and try to be as calm as possible,” he said. “I set myself targets every season. Sometimes you don’t match them, but that’s the thing about football-you always have another year to try again. “I can’t tell you the target because I don’t want to get slated (criticised) for it! I always set myself a realistic target, but high standards as well and hopefully I can match them this year. “I am just really happy to be working in such a fantastic team.” City’s eight-point lead over second-placed Manchester United has established them as overwhelming favourites to win the title, but skipper Vincent Kompany is not buying into that.
‘WE HAVE WON NOTHING’
The Belgium defender, who was a City stalwart before they became Champions League regulars, warned there was no room for complacency against Southampton. “After 15 years at this level the one thing you know and learn is you do not crown yourself champions in November,” he said. “Let’s be steady. “The biggest challenge for us now is to go back home and say, ‘The next game, let’s do it again and do it again’.
“I feel the team has got this motivation and I make it more about the next game. We have won nothing and achieved nothing and that’s the key message here.” Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton will arrive in Manchester on the back of Sunday’s satisfying 4-1 thrashing of managerless Everton at St Mary’s. That was a big improvement on the previous result, a 3-0 loss at Liverpool, although Everton’s lack of confidence and organisation were significant factors in the Saints’ win.
England defender Ryan Bertrand was convinced the victory, which saw Charlie Austin net two almost identical headers, was ideal preparation for a sterner test. “We’ll go there today and give a good account of ourselves,” he said. “They’re doing well at the moment. “We’ll look to build on this and go into the game at the weekend (at Bournemouth on Sunday) hopefully building on what we do today.
“We’ve got the win and on Everton’s form we were expected to win. Let’s go and test ourselves and test them in the game and enjoy it.” – AFP