Men's Team

Magical Mahrez is 'every defender's nightmare', says Howey

Steve Howey has described Riyad Mahrez as ‘every defender’s nightmare’ in the wake of the City winger’s latest stunning display during Thursday’s epic 4-2 win over Spurs.

Pep Guardiola’s side staged a stirring fightback from being 2-0 down at half-time to overpower Antonio Conte’s visitors with Mahrez helping light the blue touch paper with his two goals and two assists.

Thursday night’s exploits were merely the latest in a series of outstanding recent displays from the Algerian who also netted a crucial winner in our 1-0 Premier League victory at Chelsea earlier this month.

And for Howey, one of the special guests on Thursday’s latest edition of Matchday Live, it provided further compelling evidence of how the 31-year-old has established himself as one of City’s most potent game changers.

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“It was a fantastic second half performance capped by Riyad Mahrez who must be every defender’s nightmare,” declared the former City, Newcastle and England central defender.

“When you watch Riyad running at you, you just don’t know where he is going to go.

“Because he can go left, he can go right, he’s got that chop, he’s got the stepover.

“Even if you do know where he’s going to go, there is not a great deal you can do about it as he puts you on that back foot.

“Like I say, I think he must be every defender’s nightmare and his second goal was just a great effort with the composure and the dink he executed.

“As a defender, when you are faced up against Mahrez, you are basically hoping you have someone behind you to help you out.

“I thought he and City were excellent. The players will have been buzzing afterwards – performances like that win you Premier Leagues and that’s a trademark of what City have done time after time.”

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Fellow Matchday Live special guest Paul Dickov, echoed Howey’s warm words for Mahrez’s latest exploits and said he was one of City’s key go-to players when we needed extra special inspiration in big matches.

“Riyad Mahrez has been fantastic… not just on Thursday but during the last two or three months. And he’s becoming one of the big players we look to when we are maybe struggling a little bit.”

There was also more high praise from our special guests for Rico Lewis in the wake of another terrific and mature display by the teenage defender.

The 18-year-old right back capped another fine night’s work with a crucial block late in the second half with City 3-2 ahead when he deflected Ivan Perisic’s goalbound shot onto the angle of post and crossbar.

And for Dickov, that interception proved a decisive moment in a game that showcased the Premier League at its thunderous best.

“Rico’s block was huge because although we had gone 3-2 up, Tottenham were coming back into the game a little bit and putting us on the back foot and looking as if they could hit us on the break,” the former City and Scotland striker pointed out.

“For him to have the footballing knowledge as a young player to get back into that position when he knows the ball is going past him shows great mentality.

“Physically and technically he’s great and I thought Rico was unbelievable on Thursday.

“He was dead on his feet walking off the pitch and that’s all you can ask for.

“You also see how confident he is for such a young boy. The trust of the manager is going to give you that but also the trust of your team-mates.

“He’s playing and training with world class players day in, day out and they don’t hesitate in giving him the ball.

“They don’t look at him and think ‘Oh, he’s 18 and it’s a big game.’ They constantly give him the ball… whether he’s at full back or in the middle of the park.”

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