The difference in class between Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea was clear on Sunday afternoon. Irresistible in the first half, City’s five shots at Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal resulted in four of them hitting the back of the net after just 25 minutes.
Raheem Sterling had the hosts a goal up inside after just three minutes with an emphatic finish at the far post and while Sarri called for concentration after conceding so early, it should have been two just seconds later, only for Sergio Aguero to miss seconds later from a yard.
However, it didn’t take the Argentine long to find the net. A sublime goal from 25 yards after 13 minutes. Kepa certainly should have done better after getting his fingertips to the ball although there was nothing he could do for Aguero’s second of the afternoon, who pounced on Ross Barkley’s header into no mans land to make it three on the day.
Ilkay Gundogan then heaped more first half misery on Chelsea with Manchester City’s fourth goal after 25 minutes. Kepa has every right to be disappointed in himself after he failed to get a strong palm on the ball while the 24-year-old has yet to live up to his record-breaking price tag thus far in his early Chelsea career.
Whatever Sarri said at half time, it didn’t work. Guardiola’s City came out wanting it more once again, showing Liverpool what they’re capable of, letting them know that they’re not going to slip up, putting pressure on the Merseyside club.
Aguero hit the crossbar shortly after the break while César Azpilicueta was found guilty of bringing down Sterling in the box. Aguero made no mistake in finding the net from 12 yards, completing his hat-trick. Chelsea are certainly a favoured opposition of the Argentine, with 28% of his hat-tricks coming against Chelsea while the 30-year-old now has hat-tricks in consecutive games. Sterling heaped more misery on Sarri late on with City’s sixth of the afternoon.
Even though they conceded just two in the second half, Chelsea were much worse in the final 45 than the first and with the game already won, Guardiola was able to rest key players, bringing off Aguero, Fernandinho and Kevin de Bruyne for Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and David Silva.
It’s fair to say that Chelsea’s errors resulted in four Manchester City goals but ultimately, Gonzalo Higuain and Co. just didn’t turn up. Ederson and the City defence had a quiet game while Bernardo Silva and Sterling were causing the Chelsea defence more problems than they could handle.
From the first whistle, it was Manchester City’s game from the off. They looked sharp, wanted the ball more while moving it with intent. Their win on Saturday moved them back above Liverpool in the Premier League table, although their title challengers do have a game in hand.
Some may even argue that the title is now in City’s hands. They’ve already played Liverpool twice while Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the only teams likely to cause Guardiola’s City problems in the final 11 games. Meanwhile, Liverpool have Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea still to play.
What Pep Guardiola said
“We played good, Sergio Aguero made an incredible goal, but it wasn’t easy, we defended deeper like never before. Now we can have two days rest and start preparing for Newport.
“Two days off will be good but we need to analyse the performance from today. The three games this week have been tough with this intensity and desire. The players were outstanding. I said thank you to them for what they’ve done. I need David Silva. I miss him when he’s not playing, but sometimes I don’t play Kevin De Bruyne or Sergio Aguero. David played the last two games and was key, he was incredible. We have a lot of games and a lot of players.
“I know what (Sarri) wants to do. My first year was difficult too. It needs time and only depends of the believers and owners. The main reason I came to City was Txiki and the chairman understood me. That’s why I’m enjoying it here in Manchester.”
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