Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling led his side to three points on Saturday against Javi Garcia’s Watford with three goals. The young Englishman capped off his stunning hat-trick with an entertaining attacking display, making him Maryam Naz’s Offside Rule Player of the Week.
1) Hat-trick hero
The Manchester City forward scored all three goals in the space of 13 minutes, yet his first was contentious. For all intents and purposes, the 24-year-old looked to be in an offside position when he hit the back of the net from a Sergio Aguero’s pass. However, referee Paul Tierney allowed the goal to stand after deeming Watford’s right-back Daryl Janmaat of having touched the ball on it’s path to Sterling.
Yet there was no doubt about his second or third. Sterling bagged his brace minutes later, courtesy of Riyad Mahrez, who found him unmarked at the back-post allowing for a tap-in. Yet the real piece de resistance was to come in his hat-trick clinching goal. Janmaat’s woes were added to when Sterling slipped in behind the Dutchman, dinking the ball over Ben Foster’s outstretched hand in what was an exquisite finish.
2) Passing masterclass
Not only was Sterling the superior goalscorer, but also trumped his teammates and the Watford players in regards to the passing statistics.
The Englishman completed 97% of his passes in Saturday’s match at the Etihad and was often the provider of killer through-balls to the likes of Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan.
The Watford defence were unable to prevent him from threading passes through their midfield, allowing City’s front three to latch on and turn with relative ease. It was through this channel – via Sterling – that the Citizens found most of their attacking joy, seamlessly turning defence into attack.
3) Seamless link-up play
Sterlings’ goalscoring abilities have never been in doubt this season. Given that the 24-year-old has already reached the number he hit in the entirety of last season with eight games still left to play, there is a strong chance that he could net 20 or more goals.
However, a more subtle aspect of his game was on show against the Hornets in his interlinking play. The likes of Craig Cathcart and co were hounded relentlessly by the English international, but his interlinking play with Aguero and David Silva proved to be the most threatening factor.
The trio were fluid in their attack and operated seamlessly to create goal-scoring chances. If Sterling can continue to play a crucial role in his link-up play around the attacking third, there is no reason why he and his teammates won’t carry on scoring abundantly.
4) Honorary mentions
While Sterling deservedly earns all the plaudits this week, one man whose performance warrants a mention is Ayoze Perez. The Spaniard led Newcastle to an extraordinary comeback against Marco Silva’s Everton, scoring twice in the second half to seal the Magpies a 3-2 victory.
Follow Maryam on Twitter at @mnaz98