Pep Guardiola cannot afford to select Raheem Sterling over Riyad Mahrez any longer

After scoring one goal in the 7-0 FA Cup thrashing against Rotherham United at the Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola handed summer signing Riyad Mahrez another chance to impress in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final clash at home to Burton Albion on Wednesday night, and he certainly grasped it with both hands.

The Premier League holders brought the Algeria international in for a club-record £60m fee back in July following another impressive campaign for Leicester City, but the 27-year-old has struggled to nail down a regular spot in the starting XI with Pep Guardiola usually preferring to start Raheem Sterling consistently while rotating him and Leroy Sane.

The wide man has scored five goals and provided a further two assists in 19 top-flight appearances for the Cityzens this term as he adapts to their way of playing, and he will know that he needs to make more of an impact if he wants to be a key man for the side.

Mahrez certainly showed his manager exactly what he is capable of as City took Burton apart in midweek by running out 9-0 victors against the League One outfit, with the African winger scoring one goal and assisting two others.

That doesn’t tell the full story though as stats-based website WhoScored handed him a 10/10 rating for his display, in which he also produced four key passes and successfully completed two dribbles.

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez's stats vs Burton Albion

One of the parts of his game that Guardiola may be demanding an improvement from is defensively, and the 27-year-old certainly stepped up to the mark against the Brewers by winning three tackles.

Sterling has been in exhilarating form at points this season but only has one goal and one assist in his previous six Premier League outings, and Guardiola may have just been given the perfect reason to start Mahrez ahead of the England international when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit the Etihad – which is a huge fortress for City – on Monday night.

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