Pep Guardiola has backed Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City winger continued his poor run of penalties on Wednesday.
Sterling missed from the spot during Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Brighton, with Manchester City fortunate to hold on to the three points after the England winger blazed his spot-kick over the bar in the game’s dying moments.
In the process, Sterling became the first player to miss three consecutive Premier League penalties since Saido Berahino did so between April 2016 and September 2017.
Having scored at least 17 Premier League goals in each of his last three seasons, Sterling has scored just four times in 15 league matches this season and seven times in 24 matches in all competitions.
Despite his difficulties in front of goal this campaign, Sterling still has the backing of his manager, who stressed just how vital the England star remains to this City team.
“He’s an incredibly important player for us,” said Guardiola. “Everything we have done in the past without him would not have been possible.
“He will score goals, he will make assists and he will help in all departments like wingers normally aren’t able to do.
“I am more than happy and delighted to have him here with us.”
Manchester City currently sit third in the Premier League, trailing only Manchester United and Liverpool, who face off on Sunday.
Guardiola, Sterling and co., meanwhile, are set to play host to Crystal Palace, who frustrated Arsenal in a scoreless draw midweek.
With the Premier League title race still very much open, Guardiola understands that each of the top teams will struggle to reach the lofty standards of recent seasons as they battle atop the league this season
“If you look at the results for the top teams, every game is complicated and difficult,” he said. “When you win away against two incredible teams like Chelsea and Man Utd the headlines are nice but the reality was Brighton and we knew it.
“We played really good against Brighton. We created chances to score three or four goals but we suffered in the last minutes not because we were bad but because they were good.
“Every game is difficult and Sunday will be no exception.”