Men’s Team

Guardiola: Game changer Mahrez has a gift

JUMPING FOR JOY: Riyad Mahrez celebrates his goal against Everton.
Pep Guardiola says the in form Riyad Mahrez is so talented that City fans are now expecting him to produce match winning moments.

The Catalan labelled the 28-year-old winger ‘exceptional’ after another impressive display against Everton, where he scored our second goal with a sweetly struck free-kick.

It was another moment of quality from the Algerian, who has started the season in fine form, scoring three goals and laying on six assists in our last nine games.

READ | Mahrez: I changed my mind about the free-kick!

WATCH | Mahrez: We have to go through this type of game

“All of this season he has played outstanding,” Guardiola said after City’s 3-1 win at Goodison Park.

“He is an exceptional player and I am happy for him because he is playing at an incredible level. 

“I think the African Cup of Nations made him believe how good he can be. He knew already, but I think it helps winning this trophy for his country. It was so important for him.

“From the beginning of the season he arrived with an incredible mentality. He was positive in the way he played.

"You have the feeling when he gets the ball on the 18-yard box, close to the area, that something is going to happen.

“I think all the spectators have that feeling and that is because he has a gift. He has something special.”

WATCH: Training: Cancelo's behind the goal trick shot

Gabriel Jesus, a player Guardiola has both praised and expressed sympathy for his selection frustrations in recent weeks, was back amongst the goals against Everton.

The Brazilian nodded home City’s opener before being replaced by Sergio Aguero, who set Raheem Sterling up for our third goal.

Guardiola, who believes the two strikers have a healthy respect for each other’s talents, was delighted to see them both make a telling contribution and revealed his decision on who started was based on City’s hectic schedule.

“I tried to have all of them involved,” he explained.

“Some players don’t play regularly and get less minutes than the other ones. I try to let the important players play.

“Gundogan is incredible, Kevin is and David, what can I say about David, and Gabriel and Sergio?

“I just thought, because of the Champions League, in the first game David and Sergio didn’t play so I said I would let them play the second game. We play Saturday and Tuesday.

“Yesterday Sergio felt something little in his leg so I said I prefer Gabriel to start and in the last minutes I will go with Sergio.

“He came on and the third goal came from him. I know he wants to score goals, to keep that level going.

“In the last game he was incredible against Watford, scoring one goal and having four or five chances. Gabriel played good against Preston.

“I try to play both. I know the guy who doesn’t play is unhappy but it is what it is.”

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