City: Buoyant Mahrez relishing new attacking role

Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez says he's enjoying a more central attacking role which has seen him finally win over his doubters at Manchester City.

The Algerian wideman is earning plaudits after scoring three times in his last two outings, in the comfortable victories over Manchester United and Aston Villa.

Mahrez had struggled to find any type of real consistency since making his £60m move to the Etihad from Leicester City 18 months ago, with some supporters questioning the wisdom behind his signing.

The 28-year-old, however, has recently been a stand-out figure for Pep Guardiola’s side in a revised 3-4-3 system, which gives him freedom to join up more centrally with forwards Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

His well-taken brace in the 6-1 rout of Villa took his goal tally for the season to nine, in addition to 13 assists so far, underlining just how confident he now feels in the Citizens’ star-studded squad.

The ex-Le Havre man is likely to keep his place when Guardiola’s team host Crystal Palace on Saturday and admitted his adapted attacking role is one he thoroughly enjoys.

The Africa Cup of Nations winner said: “I like to play in this more axial role – let’s say as a ‘No.10 discarded.’

“Here in Manchester City, we know how to spin the ball, we know where the spaces are and use our passing circuits. So when you get back on the field, you know exactly what to do. From there, you take pleasure in playing.”

Mahrez added: “You put yourself in between the spaces and the ball comes to you all alone. Then in the last thirty metres, it’s up to me to be creative and make a difference.”

Team-mate Raheem Sterling was dropped for the game at Villa Park after showing some recent signs of fatigue, although the England winger is understood to be eager for a return to the equation.