Analysis – Raheem Sterling shines for Manchester City in the FA Cup final

sRaheem Sterling was the star of the show for Manchester City on Saturday as they demolished Watford in the FA Cup final.

City showed no signs of complacency or nerves at Wembley as they dispatched Watford with little effort or remorse. Sterling, as he has for much of this season, played a massive part in the victory.

Deployed up front alongside Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, Sterling was the undoubted star of the show. Using stats provided by WhoScored, we’ve taken a look at his performance in the game and analysed how superb he was.

Man of the match

Manchester City v Watford - FA Cup Final Raheem Sterling
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 18: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

WhoScored handed him a ten out of ten rating for the game, enough to earn him man of the match, and it’s easy to see why. Aside from finishing the game with two goals and an assist, Sterling was top of the charts in other areas too.

Starting with shooting, Sterling had to share the honours here. He and Gabriel Jesus both topped the charts for total shots, with four each, while they also had the same number of shots on target, three each. For context, the four other players to manage a shot in the game only had one to their name.

Onto passing, Sterling was also impressive here. He did not post enough passes, or accurate passed to make the top five, but his total of 36 and 32 in each category was more than any Watford player.

What may be a shock is Sterling’s four key passes. That total saw him top the charts alongside Bernardo Silva in that regard. It was also only one short of matching the total managed by the entire Watford midfield. It is no surprise to see Silva top those charts, though, given the Portuguese midfielder is known as a creator.

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Sterling, however, is not and it is a sign of his developing game that he is now creating chances as well as putting them in the back of the net.

Dribbling now and this is where Sterling truly shone in the game. No player in the game managed to better his total of six attempted dribbles. He was also second for successful dribbles with three.

Sterling was even involved defensively, posting three attempted tackles and two successful tackles, meaning he enjoyed a success rate of 67% in that regard. For context, that meant he was better in that area than Craig Cathcart, Jose Holebas and Etienne Capoue from Watford.

Where next?

Manchester City v Watford - FA Cup Final Raheem Sterling
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 18: Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph of Manchester City celebrate with the trophy following the FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Watford at Wembley Stadium on May 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

It was another impressive all-round performance from Sterling who has had quite the season at Manchester City. Indeed, this is arguably his best season to date, and his display in this game was another clear sign of how rapidly he is improving under Pep Guardiola.

Sterling has developed into a world-class forward under Guardiola’s guidance. He now makes intelligent timed runs throughout the game, something that means he often finds himself in the right place at the right time to finish sweeping City attacks. That was very much the case against Watford.

He has also become a creator, too, though. Now he is better on the ball, smarter with possession and can pick out passes to break defences. Again, that was on display against Watford and shown with his game-high number of key passes.

It will be interesting to see where he continues to improve from here. This season has been his best yet. He has established himself as a critical player for both Manchester City and England and impressed off the pitch. There has barely been a game in which he has not performed o impressed. If he keeps improving, City may have an extraordinary player on their hands.

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