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Pep Guardiola has praised the “extraordinary” Rico Lewis, saying that the youngster has the ability to improve his teammates.
The 18-year-old was introduced at half-time in Thursday’s Premier League match with Chelsea, coming on for Joao Cancelo.
Guardiola singles out ‘extraordinary’ youngster
Lewis had started City’s previous three matches, but found himself on the bench for the meeting at Stamford Bridge. However, it didn’t take long for Guardiola to introduce the teenager, who entered the fray with the score at 0-0.
As reported by BBC Sport, the City boss has praised his young star, saying that his team improved when the 18-year-old came onto the pitch.
“In the first half everything was sloppy, we had no rhythm – but we got better when Rico came in,” said Guardiola.
“He has the ability and talent to make our game better. Most of the players play good, but he has the ability to play good but make the others play better.”
Super subs change game
Lewis wasn’t the only key substitute that Guardiola made on the night, with fellow subs Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez combining for the only goal of the game.
The £160m pair came on for Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva respectively on the hour mark, with Grealish setting up a Mahrez tap-in just three minutes later.
The City boss praised the duo for their part in the victory, saying: “Grealish’s body language is exceptional if he plays or doesn’t play – these types of guys always play good.
“With Riyad I knew the space would be there for him. He’s good one-on-one in the final third.”
The pair have largely had to settle for substitute appearances this season, with Mahrez currently the Premier League’s top-scoring sub since he joined City in 2018.
The Algerian’s total of nine top-flight goals off the bench for City meanwhile is bettered only by former strikers Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, who managed 13 and 12 respectively.
Guardiola’s men keep pressure on Arsenal
The victory means City keep the pace with leaders Arsenal, who dropped points on Tuesday night in their goalless draw with Newcastle at the Emirates.
Guardiola’s side are five points behind the Gunners, but do boast a better goal difference at this stage.
Both teams now have a tricky run of fixtures ahead of them, with both meeting Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur later this month. The former are fourth in the table, with the latter sitting fifth.
The title could, however, be decided in mid-February when City travel to north London to take on Mikel Arteta’s side.
With injuries and suspensions always playing their part this time of year, the league could come down to whoever has the strongest squad. Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton believes that City have an unfair advantage in this regard.
Guardiola was able to call upon the likes of Grealish, Mahrez, Lewis, Manuel Akanji and Kalvin Phillips against Chelsea, with Julian Alvarez an unused substitute.
“It’s sort of unfair, isn’t it, the Manchester City bench?” said Sutton. “And will that be the difference this season? With their squad, do they have the edge over Arsenal?”