In Focus: Why Magic Mahrez continues to shine in Manchester
Riyad Mahrez's wizardry could be key for Pep Guardiola's men in Sunday's Manchester derby
The Algerian was integral as Manchester City romped to a 4-0 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend — scoring twice and scooping the man-of-the-match award.
The phenomenal form of Erling Haaland has been the centre of attention but Mahrez has also been a key contributor.
Ahead of the clash with rivals Manchester United, we take a look at the role the 31-year-old has played this season and analyse why he is so important to the Citizens.
Mauling the Blues
City made Chelsea look significantly inferior when they faced off at the Etihad Stadium and Mahrez was the key man.
The Algerian scored a brace in the 4-0 win — the second time City beat Chelsea in the space of four days, having also won 1-0 in the Premier League.
Mahrez netted in that game and then opened the scoring on Sunday when his left-footed free-kick was perfectly struck, flying into the top-right corner of the net.
The second also came from a set piece — this time a penalty after Phil Foden was fouled. Mahrez stepped up and fired a confident spot-kick into the roof of the net.
Mahrez's star turn against Chelsea was a chance for him to step into the limelight, having often flown under the radar at City.
The Algerian has played just 579 Premier League minutes this season — fewer than positional peers Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva. But he has delivered when selected.
Mahrez has contributed two goals, both from open play, and an assist. He has registered seven shots on target, completed eight take-ons and created 18 chances.
Competition is fierce at City, however, and the Algerian must compete with three elite team-mates for just two spots either side of Haaland, who spearheads their 4-3-3.
Looking in the mirror
Guardiola praised Mahrez after City's rout of Chelsea and hinted the reason for his form is down to a recent attitude change.
He said: "Riyad is a fantastic player. I know how important he is.
"But I want the Riyad [who in the] last game did not play from the beginning at Stamford Bridge and the impact he had was incredible. He is the same person who, at Aston Villa, did not come on and we drew. So then it depends on [the players].
"When they play in this way and they complain I can say, 'Yeah, you are right. You deserve to play.'
"But before, he could not play because he was not playing at the level he is playing at now. Sometimes I have to let them see in their own mirror who they are."
Mahrez will harbour ambitions of lifting another league title come the end of the season — but City face a fight to defend their crown.
It is Arsenal who have set the pace at the beginning of the 2022-23 campaign. Newcastle and city rivals United are also credible challengers.
And aside from both domestic cup competitions, there is also the matter of the Champions League — the one trophy the club have yet to win.
Mahrez will be important for the Citizens when they do battle with RB Leipzig in the last 16 but Guardiola will not allow his men to think that far ahead. First up is United.