EPL

Guardiola hails clinical Mahrez, says Man City top performers will not be rotated

By Sports Desk November 28, 2020

Pep Guardiola will demand "more, more, more" from his players after they thumped Burnley 5-0 on the back of Riyad Mahrez's hat-trick.

Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres were also on target as Guardiola's side found their scoring form, having struggled in front of goal in the early months of the season.

In his role as chief destroyer, Mahrez took his goals haul to seven in his last four Premier League appearances against Burnley.

His overall total of eight career goals against the Clarets means he has scored more against them in the Premier League than any other side.

The Algerian winger also took his tally of goal involvements in the Premier League to 102 (61 goals, 41 assists), making him the sixth African player to reach triple figures in the competition.

Such an impact means Mahrez looks set for a run in the City team, with Guardiola insisting the time for squad rotation in the Premier League is over, at least until the Champions League knockout rounds begin in February.

"Of course there will be players who are tired and need some rest," Guardiola said, "but they will play, the guys who defend well and score goals.

"The guys who do it will have more chances to play. It's not about right now making rotations. They are going to play more, more, more until they are tired."

Mahrez has clearly helped his cause, with the big win largely of his making, and Guardiola urged others to follow the former Leicester City player's lead.

"The last week or few days he's been much, much better and we saw him sharper," Guardiola said.

"Of course [a big win] can help us, especially for Riyad. Riyad has to score goals, the other ones have to score goals, [Raheem] Sterling when he plays has to score goals, and they don't score much.

"They have to score goals and that's the reason why they are here and play up front."

In the final reckoning, City had 68.6 per cent of possession and 19 shots to Burnley's nine.

Twice in the Premier League this season, City have taken more shots at goal, but they could not force a win on either occasion, losing 2-0 to Tottenham despite having 22 attempts and drawing 1-1 with Leeds United regardless of their 23 shots at the West Yorkshire side's goal.

City had scored just 10 times and lost twice in their opening eight Premier League games this season, which was hardly the start their manager wanted after being pushed aside by a rampant Liverpool in last season's one-sided title race.

Now, after inflicting another 5-0 defeat on Burnley - strangely, that has been the scoreline in their last four Etihad Stadium clashes with Sean Dyche's side - there is greater cause for optimism.

But Guardiola does not mind by how many goals his team win, as long as they continue to beat rival sides.

"It's not important; the important thing is winning games," said the former Barcelona head coach. "You can win it with a big margin and that's good, but I'm not expecting that every game we go out there and score a lot of goals.

"The important thing is to create the chances - every game we have a lot and today we were good and we converted."

For an afternoon at least, City did not miss Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine striker's knee injury has meant he has missed most of the season to date, and Guardiola reported that remained a problem, saying Aguero had been unable to train earlier in the day.

"We know the injury he had is not easy for the recovery. We have to handle it as best as possible," Guardiola said. "When he is ready he will start to train with us and play."

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