In basic terms, the reigning Premier League champions’ purchase of a former PFA Footballer of the Year, for a club record fee, was clearly a huge statement of intent. But when Manchester City completed the signing of Riyad Mahrez in the summer, there was a legitimate question about his precise role in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI.nfl cheap jerseys nike
After all, City had just won the Premier League with a record 100 points, courtesy of a side based around two outright wingers, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, stretching the play. This was arguably the most fundamental part of City’s attacking approach, and when Guardiola occasionally played Bernardo Silva — a left-footed midfielder, always coming inside — on the right flank, more for the sake of rotation than tactics, City’s attacking wasn’t quite so dynamic.
Mahrez was a curious fit. Somewhere between an inverted winger and a No. 10, the Algerian was a dribbler accustomed to playing on the counter-attack and carrying the ball directly towards goal, and the outside-right position at City demanded entirely different characteristics. So far, though, Mahrez has proved his worth. After a slow start at the Etihad, where he was gradually eased into the side, now Mahrez is increasingly looking like one of City’s key players. His tactical role at City can be summarised concisely by assessing the nature of his four league goals so far.
Mahrez scored two in a 5-0 thrashing of Cardiff City, one in a 5-0 victory over Burnley, and then came his first major goal for City, the winner in Monday’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Those four goals, stylistically, can be divided into two; Mahrez has scored two pairs of identical goals.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap
His second strike against Cardiff, and his late goal against Burnley, were the type of goal we’ve come to expect from left-footed right wingers, strikes that can now be described, and universally understood, as Arjen Robben-esque.
Against Cardiff, Mahrez collected a loose ball on the edge of the box, cut inside by using the outside of his favoured left foot, and then whipped a shot into the far corner. His goal against Burnley was a more elegant variation: collecting a forward pass from Fernandinho, 25 yards out in an inside-right position, Mahrez touched the ball once with the inside of his left foot, then three times with the outside to work the ball into a shooting position, opened out his body, before majestically bending the ball into the top corner. Joe Hart didn’t move. It was the archetypal goal from an inverted winger.
But playing purely in that manner would mean City losing their most prolific route to goal from last season. Time and time again, City unlocked opposition defences through Sane and Sterling, with one winger charging down the outside, sending a low cross into the box, and the other winger arriving at the far post to convert, often into an open goal.