Pep Guardiola claims Raheem Sterling can still reach yet another level.
Sterling is now firmly established as one of the Premier League’s most influential players after two outstanding seasons for Manchester City.
Yet, despite Sterling continuing in much the same vein with a season-opening hat-trick against West Ham last week, Guardiola is still expecting more of the 24-year-old.
Asked if Sterling is now the best player in the competition, Guardiola said: “There are many, he is one of them. Look at the top six teams and you will find many, many players.
“The Premier League is incredible. We are surrounded by incredibly good players. We have many.
“I didn’t watch all the other games but he’s playing so good from the beginning, in terms of being clinical, but we want more.
“Everybody wants more, he wants more. It was just the first game of the Premier League season.”
Champions City looked comfortable as they opened their latest title defence with a 5-0 win over the Hammers last weekend.
This Saturday could present a tougher test, however, as another potential title challenger in Tottenham visit the Etihad Stadium.
Spurs have happy memories of the ground having beaten City in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals en route to the final.
Guardiola said: “Since I came here to England every season they were a real contender.
“The first season finished second and the last two seasons we won (in the Premier League) but always they were there, always they were tough games.
“I spoke many times about how good Tottenham are. It’s the second best team in Europe. For me that’s enough.”
Guardiola has close to a fully-fit squad for the game and has warned that all players will need to be at their best to earn a place in the side.
Record signing Rodri made a comfortable debut at the London Stadium but he is under pressure for his place this weekend as Fernandinho is now back to match fitness.
Guardiola said: “He has to play better, him and everybody. That’s why we come here to train, to see what we can do better.
“I think Rodri has potential. He is a young player, he is tall, he is so smart and thinking about what happened but he is new.
“There are many things to see what we want to do, and what we didn’t do, in the recent past. He’s smart and he will get it. Like everyone, he can do better.
“If everybody is fit then some players don’t play, even though they deserve to. The quality of the team is good. Tomorrow will be the same. We have to think what is best about our team to beat our opponent.”
Copy Provided by Press Association Sport
The defending champions arrive in the fixture in fine form, having destroyed West Ham 5-0 away from home. Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez were City’s top performers from their opener and could hold the key against the North London side as well.
Spurs produced a second-half comeback against Aston Villa to register a 3-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. New-signing Tanguy Ndombele opened the scoring with a belter and Harry Kane added a brace to take Spurs home.
Which team will keep the momentum by emerging victorious in this key clash? We take a look at the talking points.
Three at the back for Spurs?
City’s trademark style of creating chances includes patient build-up, some wing-play and then a cut-back. They implement this with such perfection that the opponents fail to prevent the inevitable despite knowing what’s hitting them.
Against such a system, a 3-5-2 could go a long way in ensuring that the cut-backs are minimised and City are forced to cross the ball. Extra bodies in the wing could attempt to stop Sterling and Mahrez from wreaking havoc and force them to lay off for a cross.
Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero are not the best in the air and Spurs will still have the extra centre-back to thwart the deliveries.
Eriksen is key
Christian Eriksen did not start for Spurs against Aston Villa last week. It is highly likely that Mauricio Pochettino benched him due to the lack of clarity on his future. The Denmark international was linked to Real Madrid and Manchester United but is now likely to stay at the club.
But there is no room for such reservations when Spurs lock horns with the best side in the Premier League. The team looked sharp the moment Eriksen came off the bench last week. The creativity he adds to the midfield will be necessary against a team like City.
It’s fair to assume that the hosts will enjoy a lion’s share of the possession. Spurs must hence create as many chances as they possibly can. The link-up between Eriksen and Kane could hence help Spurs make a strong case in this contest.
Can Spurs stop Mahrez?
Mahrez could make a strong case for being the best player in the Premier League in the last four seasons. It’s scary to imagine that we probably haven’t witnessed his peak yet. The Algerian is set to play a crucial role in City’s title defence and his masterclass against West Ham was just a precursor to what he has in store this season.
Pep Guardiola sparingly used the forward in his debut season at the club, much like he did with Bernardo Silva during his debut. But the Catalan boss will be unleashing the beast this season and Spurs could be one of the first in the potentially long list of casualties.
Rose will be presented with the defender’s nightmare of keeping the winger in check. Should he succeed in doing so, Spurs will gain a huge advantage on the flanks. This battle will hence play a huge role in shaping the outcome of the match.
Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has urged his team to win trophies and not just talk about them.
Spurs’ trophy cabinet has not seen a new additional for a few years and Lloris believes it’s time that changes. The North London club finished runners-up in the Champions League last season and will be motivated to better their result this season.
“We have been talking about trophies now for at least two seasons,” Lloris told The Sun. “It is one thing to talk about it — it is another thing to show what we can do.
“It is the ambition of the board, the manager, the coaching staff and the players. So we don’t need to add any more words about this.”
“The belief is even stronger than before,” Lloris added. “But it is one thing to say things to the media, it is another thing to tell the truth inside the changing rooms.
“That is the most important thing, to speak the real truths between ourselves. Then we need to show what we are saying on the pitch.”
Spurs’ first major challenge in the new season arrives on Saturday as they take on Manchester City in what promises to be an intense clash in the Premier League.
Lloris added: “It is a big, big game. Every big game can be decisive, so it is important to be ready. The focus has to be very strong from the start.
“The only thing Saturday’s result will tell us is the truth of that one game.”