By Mike Collett
FOUR months after quitting Liverpool for Manchester City, Raheem Sterling will have the first opportunity to justify the move by getting one over his former employers when the teams meet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm).
Sterling joined City in the close season in a deal worth up to £49 million, but the circumstances surrounding the transfer left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Liverpool fans.
Sterling’s relationship with Liverpool had soured in the lead up to the transfer after he gave an unauthorised interview to the BBC.
His agent Aidy Ward also angered the club by saying the England winger would not sign a new deal at Anfield – even for £900,000 a week.
Sterling has since said he has no regrets over quitting Liverpool and the Premier League table already offers some justification for the move.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City side are top of the league, level on points with Arsenal. Liverpool, on the other hand, are still settling down under new boss Jurgen Klopp and are 10th.
City, who stalled with a goalless draw against bottom side Aston Villa last time out, could welcome back Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta and Samir Nasri from injury.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six league games but visit West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (5pm) looking to mend the defensive frailties that nearly cost them defeat by local rivals Tottenham Hotspur before substitute Kieran Gibbs rescued a point.
Manchester United, who trail third-placed Leicester City by a point, face 11th-placed Watford (2.45pm) with an attacking injury crisis. They will be without skipper Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial.
Rooney, who scored his 51st goal for England when they beat France 2-0 on Tuesday, has not trained since because of illness, while Martial, who also played in Tuesday’s international at Wembley, left the stadium on crutches after taking a heavy blow to the top of his foot.
Carrick suffered an ankle injury when England played Spain last Friday while Fellaini will miss his second successive league match after picking up a leg injury.
High-flying Leicester sit one point behind the leaders and visit Newcastle (5pm), who are one place and two points outside the relegation zone.
Pressure is mounting on Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after a torrid start to the season for the champions.
The Blues, who host Norwich City (5pm), have lost seven of their 12 league games, including the last three, and are languishing in 16th place.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas told Spanish paper Marca this week: “The results aren’t doing our performances justice. We’re playing better but we aren’t having any luck.”
Spurs and West Ham United at White Hart Lane on Sunday (6pm) in a London derby with both sides locked on 21 points in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side have lost once in the league this season – to Manchester United in their August opener – while the Hammers have lost once in their last nine games.
The French national anthem will be played before all of England’s top-flight matches this weekend, the Premier League said.
‘La Marseillaise’ will ring out after the coin toss in tribute to those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks of last Friday.
The anthem was played before England’s friendly against France on Tuesday with the words in French displayed on big screens.
More than 70 Frenchmen play in the Premier League, making France the second-most represented nation after England.
“Given how close we are as well as the long-standing relationship that exists between the Premier League and France, playing ‘La Marseillaise’ as an act of solidarity and remembrance is the right thing to do,” the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Scudamore said in a statement.