Irresistible, breath-taking, clinical... City were all this and more as the champions thrashed Chelsea 6-0 to return to the top of the Premier League. With towering displays all over the pitch, Sergio Aguero just about edged star man honours with his 15th City hat-trick, but not far behind was the electric Raheem Sterling who bagged a brace and the tireless Bernardo. But then, there were 11 candidates all told in a team performance of the very highest order. It was perhaps the best display of Pep Guardiola’s tenure and if not, very, very close at worst.
What happened? City began in devastating fashion and were ahead inside four minutes. The excellent Bernardo Silva inevitably was involved as he latched on to a weighted Kevin De Bruyne pass before his low cross was cleared into the path of Sterling who thumped a shot past Kepa Arrizabalaga. Raheem sterling wheels away after firing City into an early lead Raheem sterling wheels away after firing City into an early lead. Raheem sterling wheels away after firing City into an early lead. It was the perfect start to a game the Blues needed to win, and a three minutes later the lead should have be doubled after more brilliance by Bernardo saw the ball crossed to the far post where Aguero was waiting – but he tapped wide with the goal open. The look on Aguero’s face suggested he wanted to put things right quickly, and six minutes later, he did – and how. Oleksandr Zinchenko stole the ball on the left and Aguero took over, nudging it past his marker before unleashing a curling shot into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards out for a breath-taking goal. And it just kept getting better. On 19 minutes, City went further ahead and again it was Aguero as he followed the path of Ross Barkley’s poor header back towards his own goal and span to knock the ball past Kepa to make it 3-0. That made Kun the Blues’ all-time leading goal-scorer with 159, passing Tom Johnson and Eric Brook who had sat there for more than 80 years. Chelsea, understandably, looked shell-shocked – they hadn’t even been particularly bad – it was just City had been utterly ruthless. Six minutes after Kun's second of the afternoon and Chelsea were 4-0 down as the Blues struck again, this time through Ilkay Gundogan’s low shot from the edge of the box after Sterling’s pass to Aguero had been poorly cleared by Antonio Rudiger. Scarcely, if ever, could a Chelsea side have been four down so quickly in the Premier League era, but this was proving to be a very special performance by the champions. It’s fair to say the Blues took their foot off the gas a little for the remainder of the half, with Chelsea largely dominating possession and forcing a couple of excellent saves from Ederson. But the visitors' miserable afternoon was far from over. City almost had a fifth five minutes into the second half when De Bruyne skipped past one challenge on the left before delivering a cross that Aguero headed against the crossbar. No matter - by 55 minutes, City were 5-0 up. The excellent Sterling, lively throughout, took on Cesar Azpilicueta on the left of the box and as he went past the Chelsea captain he was felled, and referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot. Aguero coolly rolled home the penalty for his 11th Premier League hat-trick – level with Alan Shearer in pole position - and his 15th treble for the Blues in completions. Sterling continued to wreak havoc down the right, but it was a combination of Bernardo and the impressive Zinchenko that gave the England winger his second of the afternoon with the Portuguese finding the Ukrainian and Sterling rammed the ball home from close range. The magnificent Blues declared at six – our record win over Chelsea – to complete a fantastic eight days and retake pole position in what is becoming an epic, three-way title race.
Star man: Sergio Aguero Stunning display by a modern-day Club legend.
What it means… City return to the top of the Premier League, improving the goal difference advantage over Liverpool in the process by a further three goals. Liverpool still have one game in hand.
What’s next? The Blues take a 17-day break from Premier League action to focus on three other competitions. First up, it’s Newport County in the FA Cup next Saturday, before a Champions League trip to Schalke and then the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.
Manchester City (6): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho (David Silva, 75’), Gündogan, De Bruyne (Mahrez, 67’); Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Agüero (Gabriel Jesus, 64’)
Chelsea (0): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso (Emerson 72’); Jorginho, Kanté, Barkley (Kovacic, 52’); Pedro (Loftus-Cheek, 66’), Hazard, Higuaín