Raheem Sterling can be the difference maker for Liverpool today…
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has insisted that the performance level of Raheem Sterling will be integral to today’s result against Aston Villa in our FA Cup semi-final.
Sterling has endured a difficult month at Anfield, a period which has seen both his tumultuous contract negotiations and other off the field incidents overshadow his displays on the pitch (via The Guardian).
However, Carragher, who was part of our last FA Cup winning side back in 2006, has reasoned that the 20-year-old’s pace and direct running have the potential to cause a host of problems for Tim Sherwood’s opposition side.
In quotes taken by Liverpool’s official website, Carragher explained the importance of the young England international to our hopes this afternoon.
He said: “I think Raheem is massively important because he adds that penetration and pace, especially when we don’t have Daniel Sturridge playing.
“We’ve got a lot of good footballers with [Philippe] Coutinho and [Adam] Lallana in there but Sterling adds that energy, pace and penetration at times we’ve lacked, especially earlier in the season.
“Before Christmas he was Liverpool’s best player. He had a bit of a dip afterwards, which is to be expected from any young player, but he is vitally important to the Liverpool team.”
In relation to the Sterling and Coutinho partnership at the head of Liverpool’s attack, he added: “If you play for Liverpool, no matter what your age is, you’ve got to deal with playing in big games, semi-finals and cup finals hopefully.
“They will have to deal with the expectation of being seen as two of our best players. You want to score goals and you want to create goals on the day so the onus will be on them.
“I think they dealt with it fantastically well last season when they were going for the title and in the run-in they were fantastic in some of those games, and now we need it more than most because we rely on them for the team.”
Sterling has certainly played an integral role in our progress so far this season. He’s currently our leading goalscorer, with 11 in all competitions, while his most recent strike helped seal victory against Newcastle United last time out.