Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes Raheem Sterling can maintain the level of performance he showed against Arsenal.
The England international scored his first goal since September in City’s 2-1 victory over their Premier League title rivals on Sunday.
Sterling made a stunning start to the season, and has five goals and three assists in 15 league games.
Guardiola said the 22-year-old’s form had dipped in recent matches, but he hopes Sterling’s performance against Arsenal leads to improvement.
“In the last game, he came back to the level he started the season,” the Spaniard said.
“The last month and a half, he was a little bit down, but you can forget how young he is. He needs to live a lot of experience to become more stable.
“In general, his performance has been high and we need this guy for one against one.
“Of course, he is not our top scorer, but he has to feel how beautiful it is to score goals, how important it is for the team and for him as well.
“He scored a beautiful goal in the last game and he gave us a lot during the first month and a half. He was our key, key player in front and of course we need him.”
Guardiola also talked up Sterling’s versatility for City, who sit third in the Premier League and seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
“He can play more narrow, he can do that. Sometimes I say to him ‘you need to play wide, wide, wide and stay there and make action one against ones’,” he said.
“When he does that, it’s difficult for him to get into the box, but for example the first goal I think it was against Sunderland. He played wide like a winger, but he arrived on the penalty spot.
“I think the strikers and the wingers they have to move how they feel, especially in the last metres.”
Guardiola’s side are next in action on Boxing Day when they visit Hull City.
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