Riyad Mahrez says goodbye to Man City, Samuel Chukwueze under the gates in the masterclass

Riyad Mahrez was Africa's top star in Europe this weekend when the Premier League was signed before Christmas.

GB About: Man City Publish: 12/21/2021 Edit: 12/21/2021 Author: Gardener


Riyad MahrezRiyad Mahrez was Africa's star in Europe this weekend when the Premier League was signed before Christmas. Amid a Prem schedule devastated by COVID-19 cases and postponements, Romain Saiss shone again when Wolverhampton Wanderers neutralized Chelsea while Samuel Chukwueze was also on the scorers' list in Spain. Man City had scored 106 Premier League goals so far this calendar year - a club record and the best by an English premier league club since 1963. The curtain falls on a remarkable year in which few City players are as irresistible as Algeria's Mahrez. The attacker has now scored five goals in their last three games, followed by one in the defeat at RB Leipzig and one goal and assist against Leeds United mid-week with another strong performance against Newcastle on Sunday. His most recent run contrasts with his recent on-goal efforts, where a sensational performance against Paris Saint-Germain in late November did not completely obscure an eight-game run in which he only scored a single goal and didn't make a single assist. City barely had to work up a sweat to beat Newcastle or their new head coach Eddie Howe, who have lost each of their 11 games against the club. Mahrez flexed his creative muscles early on to prepare Joao Cancelo for City's runner-up in the 27th minute; the pair exchanged quick passes before the full-back sent a 20-yarder behind Martin Dubravka. There was initial confusion when officials on the field ruled the offside strike only for VAR to override Martin Atkinson's decision and award the goal - City's third in a 4-0 win - to the 30-year-old. "We just have to keep going and we are in a very good moment," said Mahrez after the game. "We just try to take one game at a time and try to win it." The numbers at the end, when we're gaining a lot of wins, it's nice to know, but the most important thing is to just get on with the next game. "City's win means that they can enjoy Christmas Day at the top of the table; they have the league with them won two previous occasions, which she won on the 25. I just believe in winning games and trying to get through to the end. " Amid the many talking points and controversies that accompanied the reaction to Liverpool's entertaining draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Mohamed Salah's performance - and missing goal contribution - has gone under the radar. Against Newcastle United during the week, the Egyptian superstar took the lead for the Reds after 25 minutes, setting a Premier League record. His efforts expanded his streak of either scored or assisted prem games to 15, which was a record held by Jamie Vardy during Leicester City's memorable 2015-16 season. Salah could have broken that record by extending his run against Spurs, but delivered an unusually subdued performance when Jurgen Klopp's side lost points at New White Hart Lane, infuriating the Fantasy Premier League players. The striker was still involved in the Liverpool goals - and controversy - when his deflected shot was blown away by Hugo Lloris in the 69th minute. Spurs protested that Salah acted in preparation, but the referee's decision was not challenged by the VAR and the goal was scored ... much to the chagrin of the hosts. His run was over, but it was another crucial - if dubious - contribution of the formally strong attacker. He is supported in double digits this season by Diogo Jota, who scored his sixth header, this season. This is the first time since 1979 that two Liverpool players have scored 10 or more goals for the club before Christmas. Sadio Mane defeated a nervous Emerson Royal largely in the tussle between the two on Liverpool's left while Naby Keita undermined a lively performance in which he forced Hugo Lloris to make a lovely save by taking a booking for the simulation. Also in the prem, Morocco's Romain Saiss slacked off his match winner against Brighton & Hove Albion with a sovereign performance in the middle of the week when Wolves defeated Chelsea 0-0. Only Liverpool and Man City - one goal each - have broken the rear of Saiss and Old Gold in the last seven games. It was a game with few chances, with Chelsea largely neutralized by Saiss' heroic defensive performances. Not only did he register five interceptions at height, but he also cleared the ball five times (no one did this more often) and completed three successful tackles during the contest. The Atlas Lion was praised by team-mate Ruben Neves for attacking strength after its mid-week winner against Brighton, but here Saiss reminded watchers why he should be considered one of Prem's most underrated defenders. His form may have been questioned recently, but the Senegal stop's contribution to a memorable 2021 for Chelsea was recognized on Monday when he was named Chelsea Fans' Footballer of the Year. The final game in an exhausted Premier League program this weekend on Elland Road, where Leeds United troubles continued as they were beaten 4-1 by Arsenal. The striker has been named to Gabon's Nations Cup squad and with the teams coming together in late December, it remains to be seen whether the former Gunners talisman will be used again for the club. At the other end of his Prem career, Gambian youngster Cody Drameh made his full debut for Leeds as a right-back demolition by Manchester City. Finally to Spain, where Samuel Chukwueze was again among the goals when Villarreal beat Real Sociedad 3-1. The combination of Unai Emery's desire not to bring the Nigerian winger back too soon after his injury and the good performances of the other Yellow Sub attackers meant the 22-year-old had a frustrating start to the season. All of his 13 appearances in the Spanish LaLiga and Champions League this season have taken place on the bench, although Emery moved to the winger half an hour before the end of the game on Saturday, with the two teams tied 1-1, rewarding his manager with Villarreal's third. Despite his limited playing time, the Wideman has already scored five goals in all competitions this season and could still be an important win for Nigeria at next month's Africa Cup of Nations.


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