Sterling joins the 100 club and is getting back to his brilliant best

Raheem Sterling Manchester City Getty Images

The "100" emoji got plenty of use after Manchester City's Premier League victory over Wolves even if it was an easily forgettable game.

Ederson claimed his 100th clean sheet in a City shirt but spent the majority of the match 50 yards away from the action; his only meaningful save was a simple tip over deep in injury time to ensure there was no shock result.

The other use of the emoji was for Raheem Sterling as he became the 32nd player to score a century of goals in the Premier League and the eighth-youngest after turning 27 on Wednesday.

While it’s a milestone earned through his consistency over a long period at Liverpool and City - with only Sergio Aguero scoring more goals for City under Pep Guardiola - from a short-term perspective it underlined how Sterling's confidence is streaming back after a difficult 12 months at club level.

His 100th goal wasn’t a spectacular dribble or a long-range shot as he perhaps might have wanted. It was just a simple pass into the back of the net from the spot after a controversial penalty awarded for handball.

But the ease with which he rolled the ball into the net, sending Wolves' keeper Jose Sa the wrong way, is a symbol of a Sterling right at his best.

“As soon as I saw the referee point to the spot, I picked my place and went with it,” he told BT Sport. “It was really nice to see it go in. Once I’ve got a decision I stick with it and it’s just about the execution.”

City’s penalty record in recent years has been patchy, with a third of the last 30 penalties missed including three by Sterling.

Raheem Sterling Manchester City GFX
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Just over two years ago he missed from the spot in a 3-2 defeat to Wolves. In fact, he missed it twice after his first was retaken because of VAR. He also missed his next two from the spot against Watford and Brighton.

So it was no surprise that there were a few anxious sideways glances among City fans when Sterling put the ball down on the spot on Saturday.

After seeing the way he stroked the ball home for his fifth goal in eight games, you wondered what all the fuss was about.

“Raheem showed the personality to take it and score the goal and these are the precious values I appreciate,” Guardiola said. “The guys who missed before still take responsibility to do it and this is so important.”

It’s a swing back to form for the England international, who had only scored three league goals for the season before kick-off while he struggled to secure a regular placer in the team.

Pep Guardiola Manchester City GFX
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It’s led to unhappiness from the winger, who suggested he would consider a move away in search of regular football, and the arrival of £100 million ($133m) man Jack Grealish, who along with academy star Phil Foden can play on the left hand side, has ramped up the pressure on him considerably.

With 18 months remaining on his contract, there is the possibility that a decision over his future will have to be taken relatively soon. To see him happy and playing in style is a bonus for the player and club.

Guardiola is one to push his players, including Sterling, to strive to get better and throughout his dip form has challenged him to get better.

But in recent weeks he’s singled him out for praise and he did so again after looking the most dangerous threat against Wolves.

“Raheem has always been important but players have to understand they sometimes drop [form], there are highs and lows in their careers,” Guardiola added.

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“What we want is the best for them. I am unfair sometimes because they are performing well and they don’t play and I don’t have an excuse to say I’m sorry.

“He’s scored lately, he’s so aggressive, he commits players like he’s always done and what he has done has always been incredibly important.”

Sterling is heading back into his highest form and with City's goal tally considerably lower than recent seasons, the timing is perfect.