Manchester City continued their 100% start to the season with a victory over West Ham that took them to the top of the Premier League.
West Ham pulled a goal back in the second half when Michail Antonio nodded in Arthur Masuaku’s cross.
Sterling added his second late on when he stroked home from a tight angle. It was a blistering start, underpinned by the attacking triumvirate of Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Nolito which yielded a slick goal finished off by Sterling.
The season may be in its infancy but already the title contenders have put down a few markers with three games gone.
Amidst City’s dominance in the game, the fact that they could not convert their first-half chances into more goals will be mildly concerning to Guardiola as they allowed West Ham back into the contest after the break.
However, a steely response to see out the victory when put under pressure, before Sterling calmly passed the ball into the net in injury time, will have pleased the City boss.
With three assists so far in this campaign, he has had a hand in five goals in four games.
By contrast, he was involved in just four goals in his last 17 appearances under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini.
If Sterling’s form can be sustained over the course of the 2016-17 season, he will emerge as a key component in City’s quest for silverware.
There was every chance Slaven Bilic’s side could have been blown away by City, such was the home side’s imperious start, but they stood firm.
It was a spirited showing from the visitors, particularly after their disappointing exit from the Europa League on Thursday, and the Etihad crowd shifted uneasily once Antonio pulled a goal back.
Had the Hammers possessed a more potent goal threat they may well have left Manchester with more to show for their efforts.
Enner Valencia and Ashley Fletcher showed plenty of willing but the lack of cutting edge emphasised why Bilic has brought in Italy striker Simone Zaza from Juventus on a season-long loan.
With only a few days left before the transfer window closes, Bilic may yet feel the desire to strengthen his goalscoring options further.
The only sour point for Guardiola will be the prospect of a possible suspension for Aguero for the Manchester derby on 10 September.
Aguero lashed out with an elbow on Winston Reid which caught the West Ham defender in the throat. The incident was missed by referee Andre Marriner while neither manager claimed to have seen it.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in a statement said, “At 2-1, the emotions, not the tactics, went in. We created many chances, I don’t know how many shots we had but the performance in general was real good with or without the ball. With the quality of our players, we can be satisfied.”
West Ham boss Slaven in a statement also said, “We stayed in the game. I wasn’t happy at half-time, I asked the guys to show character and spirit and a different mentality, which they did. Praise for the team for the second half performance.”
Jose Mourinho and Guardiola may renew their rivalry in the Manchester derby when City faces United at Old Trafford on Saturday, September 10. West Ham will host Watford at the London Stadium later the same day.