Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola believes that Rico Lewis came on and changed the game against Chelsea. At Stamford Bridge, City struggled in the opening period and was fortunate to avoid falling behind when Carney Chukwuemeka hit the inside of the post with a low shot just before the break. However, they played much better after Guardiola substituted Lewis and Manuel Akanji for Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker, which enabled City to make the crucial breakthrough. Guardiola later joked that he was a “genius” for the substitutions after Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez combined for the game-winning goal, but the City manager was most anxious to emphasize Lewis’ importance in his press conference.
“The first half wasn’t great because it was sloppy, we didn’t produce much, our pushing was terrible, and we weren’t structured,” Pep Guardiola said about Rico Lewis. “Rico has demonstrated the capacity to improve the midfield in recent games. While some players excel at playing well for themselves, he has the potential to improve the performance of the team. He always knows when to let himself be vulnerable and what to do. He altered the rules. He has been playing since we returned [from the World Cup], and he is a crucial member of our team. In the style we are playing right now, he is a crucial component for us. Man City had an entirely different energy and flow in the second half. He altered the atmosphere right away.”
The academy graduate generally plays right back, but after Bernardo Silva left the game, he moved into centre midfield and assisted Guardiola’s team in taking control of the match. Before the trip to Stamford Bridge, Lewis had started three straight games, and he now appears positioned to be a key player in City’s pursuit of trophies in the second half of the season.
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