LONDON — Manchester City handed Chelsea their heaviest defeat since 1991 as a first-half blitz won the game for the Premier League champions inside the first 25 minutes, with Sergio Aguero completing his hat trick in the second half and Raheem Sterling netting a late second to complete a 6-0 win.
At least Chelsea have the Carabao Cup final to look forward to…oh.
This was a defeat to raise questions about the entire Maurizio Sarri project. Chelsea came to the Etihad Stadium, tried to play their football and were destroyed so comprehensively that many will find it difficult to see how this system can ever work at the highest level. It all felt very late Arsene Wenger-era Arsenal.
Manager rating out of 10
1 — Sarri underlined the fact that he will never change his approach by playing entirely into Pep Guardiola’s hands. Chelsea pushed high up the pitch, weaved pretty passing patterns at times but were so open everywhere defensively that it didn’t matter. As ever, there was no hint of a different approach, or even a tweak.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 — Kept his head in the face of City’s high press, but was left brutally exposed by everyone around him losing theirs. Perhaps could have done better with Ilkay Gundogan’s strike which seemed to go through him, but none of the other shots that beat him were his fault. Made a good late save from Gabriel Jesus.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 2 — Sterling caused him problems from the outset, escaping his attention for the opening goal and looking to commit him with speed and close control at every opportunity. His miserable afternoon was complete when he desperately hauled down the winger for a penalty that Aguero scored.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 3 — Held up reasonably well in one-vs.-one situations, using his strength to outmuscle Aguero, but City exploited virtually every positional mistake that he and those around him made. Clearly not the biggest problem on this awful day for Sarri, but not part of the solution either.
DF David Luiz, 3 — Has won some memorable battles against Aguero in the past but was totally humiliated by the Argentine here. Must take a share of responsibility for the space that City’s attackers consistently found in the Chelsea box, and even his long passes were not as sharp as usual.
DF Marcos Alonso, 2 — Never looked likely to shine in a match that called for him to defend for long spells and his bizarre decision to drift narrow gave Bernardo Silva the freedom of the Etihad to set up Sterling for City’s opener. Looked a step slow throughout, and displays very little chemistry with Hazard these days.
MF N’Golo Kante, 4 — Chelsea’s least-poor midfield performer on a day in which their midfield was utterly overrun. Won the ball high up the pitch a couple of times but in the main, City had little trouble bypassing him whenever they felt the need to, and he couldn’t get close enough to protect Jorginho.
MF Jorginho, 3 — Generally gets the most criticism when Chelsea’s system fails, but he did very little to positively impact things here. His most ambitious passes came to nothing and he lacked the athleticism or positioning to provide any kind of shield for his floundering back four.
MF Ross Barkley, 2 — This was a big moment for him after some encouraging recent displays, but he looked a level below every other midfielder on the pitch. Touches ran loose, passes went astray and to cap it all, he presented the ball to Aguero with a disastrous back-header for City’s third.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 5 — His movement was bright early on and he forced two good saves from Ederson, though he should probably have found the net once. Never stopped running for the team but mustered little after his early flurry to get Chelsea on the front foot.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 — Looked very sharp at the head of Chelsea’s attack even as their defence crumbled in the first half, setting up Pedro with a superb take and backheel before forcing an excellent save from Ederson with a dipping strike from 25 yards. Faded after the break with the game long over.
FW Eden Hazard, 4 — The misunderstanding between him and Alonso created City’s opening goal, and the beginning of Chelsea’s nightmare. He tried to commit defenders in the final third but invariably found himself smothered before he could find any seriously dangerous positions, and understandably became disinterested as his team disintegrated behind him.
FW Mateo Kovacic, 5 — Introduced for Barkley, as usual, in the 51st minute, he provided fresh legs but no fresh ideas.
FW Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N/A — Continues to get the majority of his opportunities on the right flank, which you suspect is not particularly beneficial either for him or for Chelsea’s hopes of keeping Callum Hudson-Odoi.
DF Emerson Palmieri, N/A — Brought on in the 73rd minute as Sarri decided to mercifully bring Alonso’s torrid afternoon to an early conclusion.