As the Etihad Stadium has become home to an exhibition for all of Manchester City’s artistry, it transformed into a slaughterhouse as Pep Guardiola’s men massacred Chelsea in a 6-0 romp. Sergio Aguero was at his peerless peak with a successive scintillating hat-trick as Raheem Sterling’s brilliant brace and Ilkay Gundogan’s strike orchestrated the masterclass on show from the reigning champions. The Argentine inscribed his name into the history books after equaling Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of 11 hat-tricks.
Pep Guardiola made three changes from the midweek victory against Everton as Oleksandr Zinchenko, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling returned to the fold.
While the question that demands answering is whether City were simply unplayable or was Chelsea’s performance an abomination, there is no doubt that this was the Citizens’ most comfortable win against a top six side in the Pep Guardiola era.
The sweeping victory catapults City to the top of the table, as their superior goal difference is what sets them apart from Liverpool. While the Reds have a game in hand, they will be looking over their shoulders towards a Sky Blues team that seem to never rest on their laurels under taskmaster Guardiola.
Maurizio Sarri labelled City as “the best team in Europe” during his pre-match press conference. If the Italian answered, the Spaniard delivered.
Ederson – 8
The ever-reliable Ederson was busier than usual as he was called into action on a couple of occasions. While the majority of Chelsea’s attempts were routine saves, the former Benfica shot-stopper pulled off a point-blank stop to deny Pedro from close quarters. However, Ederson outdid his earlier effort in the 37th minute as he pulled off a blinder from a dipping volley from Gonzalo Higuain. While the scoreline reflects a story of its own, the mark of a top goalkeeper is to display supreme levels of concentration during quiet outings and step up whenever called upon.
Kyle Walker – 6.5
An on-song Eden Hazard is a headache for any defender in the world and this theory rang true on certain occasions as the Belgian’s artillery of skills caused mayhem for Walker. His positional awareness was discombobulated at times and Bernardo Silva’s defensive support was vital for City to tame Chelsea’s left-hand side. The visitors were virtually anonymous in the second 45 and as a result, Walker was not tasked with going toe-to-toe with Hazard.
John Stones – 7.5
A fine display from Stones as he dealt with the threat of Higuain and Hazard with aplomb. While Chelsea were miles away from their fluid best, the England international made key blocks and his positioning was spot on throughout the contest. Stones’ distribution was excellent as he kept things ticking by playing through Chelsea’s press with ease. Guardiola will be giving a pat on the back to a potential City captain for years to come.
Aymeric Laporte – 8
The Frenchman has blossomed into one of the globe’s most complete centre-halves since his move to the Etihad and another commanding showing is merely setting this claim into stone. Laporte stood tall to the predatory instincts of Higuain and sniffed out any signs of danger in inspiring fashion. The former Bilbao defender’s passing in between the lines was immaculate and a catalyst behind City’s forays forward. A cleansheet capped off an astute showing from the 24-year old.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 8
Zinchenko’s selection at left-back raised eyebrows among the City faithful as the youngster has showcased vulnerabilities at the back this campaign. However, the Ukrainian repaid Guardiola’s faith with an encouraging performance. Due to the fact that his natural role lies in attacking midfield, the ex-Ufa man shows no signs of uncertainty with the ball at his feet and was crucial in City’s build-up play. A swift give-and-go with Aguero led to the Argentine’s divine strike. Zinchenko grabbed another assist as he put the ball onto a plate for Raheem Sterling’s second goal. Defensively, he was aggressive in his tackling up the pitch and often won the ball in advanced areas.
Fernandinho – 8
The Brazilian was as solid a presence as ever as he was typically dogged in the middle of the park, winning tackles and functioning as the fulcrum for the majority of City’s ball retention. Fernandinho’s distribution was faultless and he did not put a foot wrong all evening. As the tie became somewhat of a formality in the latter stages, Guardiola decided to wrap his jewel in cotton wool by substituting him for David Silva.
Ilkay Gundogan – 8.5
Gundogan has undergone a new lease of life in recent weeks and another classy display is just another indicator of that. The German midfielder scored the 4th goal of the clash as he caressed the ball into the back of the net to cement City’s win. While Arrizabalaga certainly could have done better, credit must be afforded to Gundogan was rising to the challenge of another big game. The former Dortmund star was an energetic presence, hunting the Chelsea players to win possession while linking play to a tee with Sterling and constantly scheming in the final third.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7.5
With the narrative centering around De Bruyne reuniting with his former club, the Belgian wizard did not disappoint. He was pivotal in City’s first goal as it was his quick freekick that set Bernardo Silva free to deliver a cross into the box, which was ultimately converted by Sterling. While he is continuing his efforts to reach full fitness, De Bruyne put in a hard shift as he pressed relentlessly and made a couple of intelligent runs. The midfield maestro struck tested Arrizabalaga with a curling freekick in the 58th minute.
Bernardo Silva – 8
Bernardo Silva is one of the most multifaceted players in the Premier League. While on first impression, one might class him as a fleet-footed attacker, the Portuguese has taken his game to a whole new level under Guardiola as he covers a sensational amount of distance and is perhaps City’s most tireless worker along with Fernandinho. He was crucial in Sterling’s goal as it was his wily run which bypassed Hazard as he delivered the ball into the box for his compatriot to finish. While Silva did not exactly carve Chelsea to pieces, his effort cannot be questioned as he was extremely busy throughout the evening and his pressing was a persistent nuisance. In addition, he dropped deeper to shoulder Walker’s burden of taming the dazzling Hazard and performed the role to perfection. Another industrious performance from Silva who has seemed to overtake his namesake in Guardiola’s books.
Raheem Sterling – 9.5
Sterling continued his rich vein of form after a superb display against Arsenal to rip Chelsea to shreds this evening. The former Liverpool winger dispatched the opener in the 4th minute to set the ball rolling for City. He left one of the league’s most seasoned fullbacks in Cesar Azpilicueta for dead on several occasions with his jaw-dropping set of tricks and flicks and raw pace. In the 54th minute, the Spaniard simply could not halt Sterling as he hacked him down in the penalty area to hand Aguero his treble from 12 yards out. Sterling was operating in somewhat of a free role as he was often positioned centrally as he cut open the Blues midfield. In the 80th minute, he put the tie further past the opponents with a simple finish to complete his double for the evening. Overall, a sensational outing for Sterling.
Sergio Aguero – 10 (Man of the Match)
Two consecutive hat-tricks in a space of a week against Arsenal and Chelsea for Sergio Aguero. Many would say this is merely standard procedure for the genius. But even for his standards, Aguero has been in unstoppable touch. The Argentine bizarrely missed a chance to pass the ball into an open net in the 7th minute as fans feared the worst after a golden opportunity had been squandered by their prodigal son. However, Aguero made amends with a breathtaking strike into the top corner to open his account for the contest. He was a constant menace for the Chelsea midfield, finding key spaces in between the lines and constantly plotting away in the final third. Aguero doubled his tally after an abysmal header from Ross Barkley gifted him a goal as he expertly placed the ball past Arrizabalaga. The former Atletico Madrid man made no mistake in converting his penalty, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and completing a sublime hat-trick. On another night, Aguero could have had 5 as his header struck the post, however, this was the striking superstar in his pomp. After equaling Alan Shearer’s record for the highest number of hat-tricks in the Premier League (11) and usurping Eric Brook and Tommy Johnson to become City’s all-time leading league goalscorer with 160 strikes to his name, one can only admire the ferocious frontman.
David Silva – 7.5
The veteran slotted in for Fernandinho instantaneously with a stunning through pass to Zinchenko that was put to bed by Sterling. Silva was involved in the buildup and was tidy as ever.
Gabriel Jesus – 7
Jesus replaced Aguero and he was no slouch himself as he was a key part of the final goal and put in a bright display upon arrival.
Riyad Mahrez – N/A
He did not particularly impact proceedings and is lacking match sharpness as well as confidence.