The emphasis was placed firmly back on to Manchester City in the title race, after Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Bournemouth. With Chelsea in town, Pep Guardiola’s men would have been well aware of the threat carried by an opponent who beat them 2-0 in the Premier League earlier in the season.
Revenge was well and truly enacted by Man City today though, with a rampant 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea, which leaves Maurizio Sarri’s future in real jeopardy. Here’s a look at five things we learned from the action on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea blown away by a whirlwind 25 minute spell
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who famously likened the dizzying football played by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2009, to a carousel. Watching Chelsea’s bewildered and tormented players at the Etihad, during a sensational 25 minute spell in the first half today, that famous comparison seemed entirely relevant.
City tore Chelsea to shreds all over the park as they worked the ball with such menace and purpose. Four goals flew in, in a harrowing spell for the visitors. It was the kind of football that has elevated this team to such a mighty pantheon and Chelsea were left with nothing in reply. City were ruthless in front of goal and clinical in possession which was in stark contrast to their ponderous opponents.
Too easy for City
As outstanding as Manchester City were, Chelsea were simply woeful, in a first half display that saw them surrender the midfield to their hosts. They switched off far too easily for the first goal as Marcos Alonso allowed Bernado Silva to ghost past him and cut a lethal ball across the box to Raheem Sterling after four minutes.
Yes, they were up against one of the best teams on the planet, but they rolled out a carpet for City to play on and offered no real resistance in the first half until City’s understandable lull. For such a massive game, it was a very casual and flaky display by Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Sarri-ball experiment will not get the time it needs
Sarri’s Chelsea were utterly outclassed and a distant second best, and not for the first time in recent weeks. This was their heaviest league defeat since 1991 and Sarri looked ominously shell shocked for most of the game at The Etihad as his players capitulated.
The tactics he stubbornly sticks to are bold, but in matches like this, they can be viewed as incredibly naive. Chelsea’s midfield was overwhelmed and rudderless. Jorginho was left to constantly pick up two men and Ross Barkley offered nothing positive to proceedings.
In fact his withdrawal from the action after 52 minutes, for Matteo Kovacic left even more questions about Sarri’s approach; a like-for-like substitution when you’re 4-0 down is hardly inspiring. On today’s evidence Sarri’s time at Stamford Bridge looks like it’s about to run out and there could well be another vacancy in West London very soon.
City fire a title warning
This was a result and performance that set’s the highest of standards in the Premier League title race. City’s talent and capabilities were never in any doubt, even with their recent defeats.
It was also an emphatic repost to anyone hinting at weaknesses in the Champion’s armour. It’s a result that should send a warning to their rivals 30 miles down the road. City are back to their brilliant best and look unstoppable on today’s evidence.
Attitude key for Guardiola’s men
With the game effectively won inside 25 minutes it was interesting to see how City would play out the remainder of the match. With Guardiola frantically waiving his side on from the sidelines as though the game was still in the balance, it was abundantly clear he wanted more from his team.
They duly responded with a master class of possession football which drained the life out of Chelsea. Even at 4-0, their players were hungry and determined to build on what they had already achieved. Aguero and Sterling stayed hungry and were rewarded with extra goals to their tally on a perfect day for the Champions. They are going to take some stopping now.