Raheem Sterling believes Manchester City’s slender win over Arsenal proved the Premier League leaders are able to dig out results in their bid to reclaim the title.
City made it 13 top-flight victories in a row as Sterling’s second-minute header proved decisive at the Emirates Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut are 10 points clear at the top of the table though, after a blistering start, they failed to replicate their best form on Sunday.
It mattered little, though, with Arsenal managing just one shot on target as City held them at arm’s length to win an 18th successive game in all competitions.
City have also equalled the record for consecutive away wins by an English top-flight team across all competitions (11), which was previously set by them between May and November 2017.
Though they were not at their free-flowing best, Sterling cited their display as another sign of improvement.
“We moved the ball well, we were really aggressive in the first five minutes,” Sterling, who has scored more away goals in the Premier League (20) than any other player since the start of last season, told Sky Sports.
“Kept the pressure on, got the goal early on. They’re a good team, you can see how well they play on the counter. You could see we struggled at times with that but we kept our composure and ground the result out.
3 – Raheem Sterling is the third player to score in three consecutive away games against Arsenal in the Premier League after Nicolas Anelka (four games ending in May 2009) and Ian Harte (three games ending in May 2003). Itch. pic.twitter.com/lhYaMAXlIP
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2021
“Mikel’s worked with us for plenty of years, he knows exactly our strengths and our weaknesses. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent a lot of time trying to find gaps in our team – they made it really difficult for us.
“It’s even better now because we had a difficult start to the season. It was something we’re not used to. It’s a credit to the team, we started to dig results out. Winning teams, you have to dig results out when it really matters.”
City are unbeaten in their last 25 games across all competitions (W22 D3) – their second-longest run without defeat under Guardiola, following a 28-game spell between April and December 2017.
This was also City’s 15th clean sheet in the Premier League this season – the most by a team after 25 games of a top-flight campaign since 2008-09, when both Manchester United (19) and Chelsea (15) had as many.
After he was rested against his former club Everton, John Stones returned to partner Ruben Dias at the back, and Sterling hailed the defensive solidity which has been mastered by City, who have conceded just three goals in their winning run in the league.
“The centre-back pairings have been great this season, they’ve got a really great understanding,” Sterling said.
“There’s a real unity and bond in there. It’s like anything – if I’m scoring goals I’m trying to keep the run [going] and you can see it’s the same with them and clean sheets.”