Manchester City’s club record signing Riyad Mahrez was conspicuous by his absence for today’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town, not even making the bench.
That raised questions before kick-off as to whether the Algerian winger might be injured – or even fallen out of favour with Pep Guardiola.
After the game, Guardiola played down either possibility and said it was “rotation”. When asked if there was a reason, the boss replied with a simple “No”.
City are in the rare position of having a near fully fit squad, with Benjamin Mendy the only outfield player unavailable – and he will be back very soon. That inevitably leads to players not even getting on the bench, but Mahrez’s absence was a surprise.
Meanwhile, Guardiola wasn’t pleased with City’s slow first half, but was content with how they stepped it up in the second 45 minutes.
“Second half we were better, especially the first 15,” Guardiola said in his post-match presser. “Our rhythm was not quick enough [in the first half] but we would take that result.
“I am honest with them and tell them all the time what I feel.”
Both Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne played the full 90 minutes, which will help with their return to peak fitness.
Pep said: “De Bruyne played 90 minutes, that is good news. When you are a long-time injured you need the rhythm.
“Aguero was sick and he needs time.”