Pep Guardiola has revealed Riyad Mahrez was drug-tested this week to clear up any uncertainty over medication he was administered while on international duty.
Manchester City boss Guardiola left Algeria forward Mahrez out of his squad for the Community Shield last weekend as a precaution in case he was called for testing at Wembley.
Mahrez, 28, underwent a minor procedure to aid his breathing after helping Algeria win the Africa Cup of Nations last month. City’s medical staff did not have full details of all the treatment prior to Sunday’s game and did not think he should be risked.
But the club have now cleared up the matter and Mahrez will be available for Saturday’s Premier League opener at West Ham.
Guardiola said: “He had a little surgery after the African Cup on his nose so he could breathe better.
“It’s a normal situation (but) the doctor, not from the national team, didn’t send the necessary (information). That was the only reason why (he did not play). We didn’t have it in the right moment.
“It was a precaution, we had to be careful. It was better not to use him.
“But after the last week, anti-doping have made the test, everything is clear and everything is fine. He can play.”
Mahrez had a mixed first season at the Etihad Stadium after his then-club-record £60million move to City from Leicester in the summer of 2018.
With competition for places from the likes of Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, he struggled to command a regular place.
After this week’s news that Sane is facing a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury, however, Mahrez may get more opportunities to step up.
Guardiola said: “The quality (we get) from Leroy we don’t have it (without him). A little bit Sterling has it but the special quality of Leroy you can’t find it around the world, that attacking the space, that speed.
“Riyad has another (quality), so he’s not a substitute for Leroy.
“My opinion during the first few games, the performance of Riyad, I was quite impressed. He didn’t play too much because in his position was one of the best players in the league in Bernardo and of course Sterling.
“But with Leroy absent, we have more space and a lot of games, one less forward player, so he is going to play. The way they are training, I’ll try to let everyone play.”
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Jurgen Klopp admitted he faces a goalkeeping shortage if Alisson Becker is ruled out for a lengthy period after suffering a calf injury in Liverpool‘s opening 4-1 win over Norwich on Friday night.
Alisson had to come off in the 39th minute against the Canaries having gone down clutching his calf after slipping while playing a goal kick and, though there was no immediate verdict on how serious the problem is, Klopp did not sound optimistic.
“It’s the calf and that’s it,” the German said as he ruled the Brazilian out of facing Chelsea in the European Super Cup on Wednesday.
“He couldn’t carry on, that’s not a good sign, and we have to see. Wednesday he will not play. With all my experience I can say that already.”
Adrian, just four days after signing for the club on a free transfer, came on to make his Reds debut as Alisson hobbled off, and the 32-year-old now stands to start against Chelsea in Istanbul.
But whether Klopp is able to select a goalkeeper on the bench remains to be seen with the Reds boss admitting his options are extremely short with the other goalkeeper in the senior squad, Caoimhin Kelleher, recovering from a broken hand.
“Caoimhin is back in training but he’s not 100 per cent, we have to see how he reacts now,” he said.
“One of the younger ones is not allowed to play, he’s only 16, and the other one had an elbow injury early in the pre-season. So yeah, we’re a bit short in that position.”
However, Klopp expressed confidence in Adrian’s ability to step in for Alisson.
“He is a very confident guy,” he said. “He came in and I don’t think he wanted to only sit on the bench for the next couple of years. He made himself ready.
“So yes, it’s a situation, but if you are in a situation like this you want to have somebody who played the league, who is experienced. He’s 32, he’s a calm guy, good with his feet. So a lot of good things.”
“But you still don’t want to have a situation where (only) one goalie is fit. That’s how it is but we have to see.”
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Grant Hanley diverted Divock Origi’s cross into his own net in the seventh minute before Mohamed Salah doubled the hosts’ advantage inside the opening 20 minutes.
Origi then got on the score sheet as well, nodding in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross before Salah’s corner saw Virgil van Dijk power home a fourth goal.
Teemu Pukki pulled a goal back for Norwich in the second half, scoring in the 64th minute, giving the visitors something to show for their persistent efforts in attack.
SAME OLD SALAH
The league’s top scorer in the last two seasons began the new campaign in ominous form. Salah’s not had much of a pre-season but continued to look sharp following his Community Shield display against Manchester City when he was Liverpool’s biggest threat.
A the Reds began to get into the groove against Norwich, Salah was beginning to exploit space more frequently. Latching on to Firmino’s pass, he slotted the ball into the far corner for Liverpool’s second before whipping in the corner for Van Dijk to score the third.
NORWICH NEEDED INVESTMENT
As Liverpool helped themselves to four goals in the opening 45 minutes while barely breaking a sweat, it was evident that Norwich’s decision not to invest significantly in their squad over the summer was probably the wrong one.
The newly-promoted outfit have only spent £1 million on recruitment ahead of the new season. That’s in stark contrast to Aston Villa – also making the step to the Premier League – who splurged £120 million.
Most of the goals on Friday came from some pretty poor defending. Hanley’s awkward attempted clearance led to the first, no one tracked Origi’s run for the third and Van Dijk didn’t even have to jump to head in the fourth.
ORIGI REPAYING MANAGER’S FAITH
On his 100th appearance for Liverpool, Origi showed just why Jurgen Klopp refused to give into pressure and sign another attacker this summer. Only a bit-part player last season, the Belgian still made big contributions to the Reds’ Champions League success, even scoring in the final against Tottenham.
With Sadio Mane not match fit yet after arriving late for pre-season due to an extended run in the African Cup of Nations, Origi got his chance to feature in his stead. He took it with both hands, breaking the deadlock by forcing an own goal off Hanley.
He continued to look threatening down the left, running at the full-back at every opportunity and made a great diagonal run before heading home from Alexander-Arnold’s cross to make it 4-0 in the first half.
CANARIES CAN-DO ATTITUDE
Despite their poor defensive display, there was much about Norwich to admire even during such a jarring defeat.
Daniel Farke has insisted that the Championship winners will persist with their brand of attacking football and it looks as if he’s a man of his word. Even when conceding goals, the visitors never stopped looking to play forward at Anfield.
At times that was to their detriment but with better finishing, they could well have scored another couple of goals. Marco Stiepermann was guilty of squandering a few promising chances in the first half while Pukki was a constant threat with his runs in behind and substitute Moritz Leitner saw his effort crash off the bar.
Pukki of course even scored a consolation goal from one of his side’s 12 attempts at goal to Liverpool’s 15.
They may be severely lacking quality at the back but Norwich should cause teams a few problems this season.