The Argentine has been criticised after some questionable defensive performances this season with Pep Guardiola often preferring to use Fernandinho in the back four.
Richards believes he is often used as a “scapegoat" for the club.
He told BBC 5 Live Sport: "I know he's not played and he's been going through a tough time.
“In these big games, this might be a game where he has a good performance and that can set his season up to have a great season.
“It's a little bit difficult for him because where City are in the league, everything is under the microscope and I feel like sometimes he can be the scapegoat of Man City.
“Yes, he does dive in too much for my liking, but the season when they won the league they were calling him the General, he really had some really good performances. He just needs to get his confidence back and hopefully, it can be this Sunday."