Some Thoughts on Arsenal’s Link with Raheem Sterling
You wouldn’t really blame a Nigerian like me for my blogging inactivity for the past two days. Firstly, nothing much was happening in the world of football from an Arsenal perspective. The international fixtures are still taking center stage and it was nice seeing Olivier Giroud in the score sheet while there were no injuries to make us fret. Secondly and most importantly, the Presidential elections were ongoing in my country, and I, like every other patriotic Nigerian out there, was glued to my TV screen to see how my vote panned out.
So back to the matter at hand, Raheem Sterling.
He has been in Liverpool for quite some time and he has grown into prominence in the side making himself indispensable to the first team in the past three seasons. This season, he has featured heavily for the Reds on the wings but with Mario Balotelli misfiring and with Daniel Sturridge missing out through injury for a considerable chunk of the campaign, Sterling was asked to put a shift as a center forward and he did well for his side. In 43 appearances for Liverpool this season, he has scored 10 goals which hasn’t been a bad return considering the fact that his ‘primary responsibility’ to his team is creating chances rather than scoring them.
According to the Daily Mail, Sterling is set to snub a bumper £180,000-a-week deal at Anfield with some indication that his mind is set elsewhere. The Mirror reported afterwards that the Gunners are planning to swoop for the winger, should he choose not to sign da ting. Arsenal were faced with such a contract dilemma with Theo Walcott a couple of seasons ago, but it’s funny to know that the Gunners might cash in on the winger this summer if they don’t reach and agreement and a player like Sterling would be an alternative to look at, even though he’d be an expensive one.
My biggest issue with Sterling has to be his inconsistent form, as he’s a player that’s capable of doing things on the pitch but he produces his hot and cold moments rather equally. This season, Sterling has played almost every minute of Premier League action for Liverpool (bar the wins against Sunderland (away) and Tottenham (home) scoring six goals and creating nine assists. However, his performance for England against Lithuania was stunning to say the least – three shots, one goal, one assist, 11 successful dribbles among other stats.
The lure of Champions League football could attract Sterling to a club of Arsenal’s caliber with the Reds fading away in the intense battle for European qualification reaching its business end. While Chelsea seem to be running away with the league, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are sure-fire favorites to grab the remaining Champions League slots, leaving the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton to battle for a place in the Europa League.
Sadly, the winger might not be available with the likes of Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel when the Reds visit the Emirates on Saturday. It might have been an ‘audition’ in front of the Emirates faithful. Sterling is currently nursing a toe injury, so he’d have to face a fitness test to ascertain if he’d take to the pitch. With the winger having contractual issues with his club, he might be in the bad books of the fans and once the fans turn their backs on you, things usually go downhill from there. Just think about the case of my compatriot, Emmanuel Emenike, that ‘subbed himself‘ after having a row with his Fenerbahce fans.
With Theo Walcott and Sterling in somewhat familiar scenarios in regard to their contract situation, a player swap wouldn’t be a bad idea but in all honesty, I’d take Walcott over Sterling seven days a week. Walcott may not be the best in the winger in the world, but he guarantees goals and the last time I checked, goals win games.
I’d monitor this Sterling situation as it evolves.
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