Riyad Mahrez puts his improvement in front of goal this season down in part to a fresh attitude from the penalty spot.
The Manchester City forward only took one penalty for the Blues in his first four seasons with the club, blazing over at Anfield towards the end of their 0-0 draw with Liverpool in 2018 that wasted the opportunity to inflict a first defeat of the campaign on their main rivals in what turned out to be an epic title race. Pep Guardiola has had so much trouble finding a penalty taker at the Etihad that he had been forced to semi-seriously consider letting goalkeeper Ederson take them.
Mahrez, though, has stepped up this season – quite literally. He has smashed in six penalties from six attempts in all competitions, including a nerveless strike in injury time at home to Tottenham that should have earned City a point.
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Taking over penalty duties has only increased Mahrez’s importance to the team under Guardiola in a season where he is streaking away in the race to be club top scorer with 21 already. The 31-year-old explained what he has changed to turn into City’s most reliable finisher from the penalty spot.
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“I changed my mentality,” he told City’s magazine. “Before, I was trying to think too much – now, I just use my quality because I have good quality when it comes to shooting. I just choose one side and I go strong. It was just a psychological issue before I changed my thinking.”
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