Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has told club record signing Riyad Mahrez that he must cease his opportunities in the first team when he is called upon. The former Leicester starlet scored the only goal of the game as City beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday - his first league goal for the Cityzens in over three months.
The 28-year-old winger, who joined City for £60 million last summer, has made only 11 starts in the Premier League this term; with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and standout performer Bernardo Silva all seemingly ahead of him at the pecking order at the Etihad this time out.
Mahrez didn't start yesterday's clash on the south coast, but was introduced to the game during first-half stoppage time due to an injury to Kevin de Bruyne - he scored what turned out to be the match winner just ten minutes into the second-half. Guardiola said after the match:
“It’s so important for him. Firstly, for the team.
“He has to be ready and positive – ‘Okay, my time is going to come, the time is going to come’ – because there are a lot of games.
“I don’t have any doubts about his quality and always his mentality is aggressive.
“But he has to understand where he is and where he is is at a team who scored 100 points [last season] and in every single game fight and run and play.
“And the people in front are Leroy [Sane] – last season one of the most important players that we had – Bernardo [Silva], the best player in the league, and Raheem [Sterling].”
Despite only featuring 23 times this season - 12 of those from the substitutes bench - the Algeria international has still scored six league goals for the Sky Blues. He's also netted a total of four goals in the FA Cup and League Cup, with his latest effort coming in City's recent 4-0 win over League Two outfit Newport County last month.
Saturday's slender victory over the Cherries means that City extend their unbeaten league run to five matches, while Bournemouth haven't won since the 4-0 demolition of Chelsea at the end of January. The southerners have scored just twice in their last five games and have now dropped down to 12th in the Premier League table, just four points ahead of 16th placed Burnley.
When asked who he thinks will clinch the title at the end of the campaign, Cherries boss Eddie Howe said: “Very difficult to call, I wouldn’t like to say one way or the other.
“I think they are different teams, different styles of play.
“But I think the common thing between both teams is they both have match-winners – at the right end of the pitch they’ve got those difference-makers.”