A club-record signing for $80 million, Riyad Mahrez has struggled to make a significant impact in his first season at Manchester City.
Scoring a huge goal in the Premier League title race might just turn things round for the Algeria winger.
Mahrez came off the bench and poked in a scruffy goal as City beat Bournemouth 1-0 to climb to the top of the standings on Saturday. The defending champions are two points clear of Liverpool, whose game in hand is at cross-town rival Everton on Sunday.
Mahrez’s biggest previous intervention in this season’s title race came at Anfield in October, when he missed a late penalty in a 0-0 draw with Liverpool. He has only scored three league goals since then and has dropped to being the fourth-choice winger in recent weeks under Pep Guardiola, behind Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane.
This was a second 1-0 win of the week for City, after beating West Ham by the same score on Wednesday, and it came at the end of a grueling seven-day period that began with a penalty-shootout victory over Chelsea in the League Cup final.
Third-place Tottenham dropped further from title contention by drawing 1-1 with Arsenal in the north London derby. In the end, Tottenham was thankful for a point, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saving an injury-time penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Manchester United moved above Arsenal into fourth place — and to within three points of Tottenham — by beating Southampton 3-2 thanks to an 88th-minute winner from Romelu Lukaku, his second goal of the game. Paul Pogba had a late penalty saved.
Wolverhampton Wanderers consolidated seventh place with a 2-0 win over Cardiff, which stayed in the relegation zone. Crystal Palace won 3-1 at Burnley, and last-place Huddersfield slipped closer to the drop by losing 1-0 at Brighton.