Pep Guardiola explains how Man City star performer vs Chelsea has transformed his season

Manchester City beat Chelsea 4-0 on Sunday thanks to a Riyad Mahrez brace and goals from Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden.

Pep Guardiola has praised Riyad Mahrez’s performance after Manchester City’s 4-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.

The Algerian put in a fantastic display - earning 9/10 in our player ratings - as he scored two and helped ensure City progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup. Mahrez has scored four and provided an assist in City’s five matches since football resumed after the World Cup, an impressive transformation for a player who was so harshly criticised by Guardiola earlier this season.

In October, the City manager said Mahrez wasn’t at his best physical condition, and he struggled to regularly start behind Phil Foden and Jack Grealish. “He is, step by step, getting better. He is not at his best, but he’s getting better,” Guardiola claimed after a 4-0 win over Southampton, before adding that Mahrez needed to ‘be fit in all ways’ including ‘body fat’.

But speaking on Sunday after City’s FA Cup win, Guardiola lauded the former Leicester City man’s impressive performances of late. “Maybe Riyad had a problem coming back from the summer time, not the World Cup. The quality from Riyad is everything,” said the City manager.

“He loves to play football, helped us to play the game [today], he played really good. He played an outstanding game playing wider.”

Asked about his performances now compared to earlier in the season, Guardiola responded: “He never lost that [love]. He loves to play football.

“But if Riyad is sitting here I would say to him, the way Riyad is training and playing is right now [much better]. Even when we were in Abu Dhabi when we trained for a few days [during the World Cup], it was not the same. I was absolutely fair.

“Riyad is a fantastic player, I know how important he is. But I want the Riyad, last game didn’t play from the beginning in Stamford Bridge and the impact he had [from the bench] is incredible. He is the same person who at Aston Villa, didn’t come on and we draw. So then it depends on them.

“When they play in this way and they complain, I can say ‘yeah, you are right, you deserve to play’. But before he cannot play because he is not playing in the level he is playing now.

“Sometimes I had to let them see in their own mirror who they are. In a long career there are many ups and downs. It is not just about the quality, but there is more in football and now he is playing really since we came back from the World Cup.”