The Algerian has played 28 times for Manchester City this season and scored nine goals, despite the champions' travails in struggling to cling to Liverpool's coat tails as the Reds have raced clear in the Premier League.

He scored twice as City thrashed Villa 6-1 at Villa Park on Sunday to leapfrog Leicester City into second place, and the manager has praised his ability to remain fit in spite of the demanding physical nature of the top flight.

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"The difference last season and this season is he plays more minutes because the manager is more kind to him," Guardiola said.

"The level he played last season was good too. He loves to play football.

"You see his legs it is impossible to be injured because he has no muscles. The final third he has something special, always I have the feeling he can score a goal."

Sunday's game was the first time Sergio Aguero, who scored a hat-trick in City's romp, and striker Gabriel Jesus had started together in the Premier League for nearly 18 months, and it came just days after the manager had opted to play without a striker during the League Cup win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"The idea is the same from day one to today, it doesn’t matter who you play, the difference is the quality, but the idea is completely the same," said Guardiola.

"We try to put the players where they feel comfortable, but it doesn’t matter if we play one striker, two strikers or without a striker. Last game we scored three without strikers and created a lot of chances. [Against Villa] we scored six and created a lot of chances. It’s because they move."

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