Brighton game is the biggest of my life, says Sterling

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling in action at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain, on May 6, 2019.
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling in action at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain, on May 6, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The Premier League title race has provided plenty of thrills and spills this season, with the winners to be decided on the final day tomorrow - only the eighth time since the league's inception in 1992 that this has happened.

Just one point separates Manchester City (95) and Liverpool (94), with both teams only losing a combined five times between them, and even Raheem Sterling has acknowledged "how big an occasion it is".

Such has been the titanic tussle that the Reds could set their highest points tally in league history, a win over Wolves will put them on 97 points - only City last season have achieved better with 100.

But even a victory at Anfield for Jurgen Klopp's players will come to nought should Pep Guardiola's men beat Brighton away.

City will become the first team in a decade to retain the league title since Manchester United in 2009.

And, because it is in their hands, Sterling is confident they can finish the job at the Amex Stadium and prolong Liverpool's agonising 29-year wait for a league title.

Speaking on Thursday evening after picking up his Football Writers Player of the Year Award, the England forward, who is the joint-fourth highest scorer in the league this term with 17 goals, said: "I'd much rather be on our side, to know if we win the game (against the Seagulls), it's ours."

However, the 24-year-old, whose exploits have also seen him collect the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Young Player of the Year accolade, warned his teammates "it will be a tough day" as Chris Hughton's players were not going to roll over for City to be crowned champions.

He said: "We know Brighton won't just sit there and let us score goals. They're safe and it is going to be really tough, to be honest with you, but it is one I am really looking forward to."

Paying tribute to his mum as his inspiration for "where I get my fight from", he added: "Right now, being here and getting voted the Writers' Player of the Year is amazing and on Sunday, I have the biggest game of my life to go and win. It's very special.

"My mum is the biggest inspiration in my life. Whenever something is going wrong, I always think of my mum. She is always fighting, I have seen her fighting through the hardest things."

He also told reporters of his delight at seeing his former club Liverpool reach their second straight Champions League final after stunning Barcelona 4-0 in midweek, despite having left Anfield for the Etihad under a cloud in 2015.

Sterling said: "I was really happy for Liverpool, I was buzzing. People might not believe me, but it's true.

"Seeing some of the boys like Hendo (Jordan Henderson) and Trent (Alexander-Arnold) in the final makes me happy, I'm really happy for them."

Virgil van Dijk, though, is not giving up hope City still can be pipped to the league title believing Liverpool are "still in this season and anything is possible".

The Netherlands defender, who pipped Sterling to land the PFA Player of the Year prize, told Liverpool's website that even if Guardiola's men do not slip up tomorrow, their double tilt - they will meet Tottenham in the Champions League final - will be a springboard for future silverware.

He said: "We have a great age group, between 20 and 27, 28. So hopefully, we can do it all together for the next couple of years at least and grow as a team and get a lot of successes.

"It's just the start... We'll see. If it (the league title) doesn't happen, then it's not the end of the world. We've had a fantastic season.

"To compete with City says a lot about how we're progressing from last year. It's not like next year we're not going to try to do it again. It's something we have to build on."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Brighton game is the biggest of my life, says Sterling'. Print Edition | Subscribe