Maurizio Sarri feels he is “always at risk” of being sacked by Chelsea after watching them succumb to their heaviest defeat in almost 28 years.
The pressure intensified on the Italian after Sergio Aguero’s 11th Premier League hat-trick, Raheem Sterling’s double and Ilkay Gundogan’s goal wrapped up an incredible 6-0 win for Manchester City.
A miserable day at the Etihad Stadium was Chelsea’s worst result since losing 7-0 to Nottingham Forest in April 1991 and comes less than two weeks after a shock 4-0 hammering at Bournemouth.
Sarri made an encouraging start to his tenure as Chelsea were unbeaten after their first 12 top-flight matches under him but the Blues have faded out of title contention and face a battle to finish in the top four.
Their manager accepted he is concerned by their recent displays but gave a considered assessment when asked whether he fears for his future.
He said: “I don’t know, you have to ask the club. I am worried about my team, I am worried about the performance but my job is always at risk so I am not worried about the club. You have to ask the club.
“I didn’t see my football (against City). At the beginning (of the season) it worked. So now we need only to understand the reasons why at the moment it isn’t working. We need to understand the reasons.
“It is not easy. At the beginning, we played better away than at home. Now we are playing better at home than away.
“Something is changing. At the moment I am not able to see the reason but I have to work for this because my target is to play my football, not to change another football because at the moment we are playing another football.”
Following the loss to the Cherries on the south coast, Sarri was openly critical of the mentality of his players and that he could not motivate them.
They duly responded by thumping Huddersfield 5-0 last weekend but were once again thoroughly outclassed on Sunday afternoon.
Sarri, though, did not think they were struggling for motivation this time.
He said: “No, I don’t think so. My feeling during the week was really very good.
“My feeling was that in this match the motivation was at the right level. I think we started well then we conceded the goal after four minutes in a stupid way.
“In that moment, we needed to stay in the match and we were not able to because we made a lot of mistakes against the wrong opponents. We have to say they played really fantastic football.”
Sarri, whose side slipped to sixth, did not shake the hand of his opposite number Pep Guardiola at full-time but insisted he was merely eager to return to the dressing room.
He added: “I didn’t see him at the moment but of course as usual I will go to say hello to him later as usual.
“It was by chance because I wanted to go to the dressing room and at the moment I didn’t see him. I have not a problem with Pep.”
Guardiola, too, played down any speculation of a rift as he said: “I spoke with (Chelsea assistant) Gianfranco Zola. (Sarri) didn’t see me. I have a good relationship with him so no problem.”
The Spaniard empathises with the scrutiny Sarri is under and believes the former Napoli coach needs time to implement his ideas.
Guardiola added: “I know exactly what he wants to do. This kind of person or this type of game always helps to make our football better. He wants to try to do that.
“People don’t understand how difficult the first year can be. Mine was difficult too. People expect with a new manager and buying players it comes immediately, but it needs time.”
Manchester City sent a warning to title rivals Liverpool with a stunning demolition of Chelsea, with Sergio Aguero’s record-equalling 11th hat-trick leading the reigning champions to an incredible 6-0 victory.
The result saw City retake the lead atop the table, three points above Liverpool having played a game more, while Chelsea dropped to sixth.
Here’s how the players from both sides rated in a memorable Premier League clash.
Ederson 7 – Made a wonderful save to tip over an equally-superb volley from Gonzalo Higuain but was kept relatively quiet as City’s attackers came to the fore.
Kyle Walker 7 – An assured performance from the England full-back as he kept Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard subdued.
John Stones 7 – Was regularly able to disrupt Chelsea’s rare forays forward.
Aymeric Laporte 7 – Chelsea’s attacking might was strangled by his and Stones’ interventions.
Alexander Zinchenko 8 – A tireless performance from City’s left-back, whose cross allowed Raheem Sterling to complete the scoring.
Ilkay Gundogan 7 – Took his goal well and rarely conceded possession, justifying his selection ahead of David Silva.
Fernandinho 7 – Usual busy presence in the centre of midfield.
Kevin De Bruyne 7 – His quick thinking from a free-kick freed Bernardo Silva on the right, leading to City’s opener. Starting to show signs of his best form after an injury-plagued season.
Bernardo Silva 8 – Gave Marcos Alonso a torrid time on Chelsea’s left-hand side. Was regularly in the thick of the action and provided the assist for Sterling to open the scoring.
Sergio Aguero 9 – Conspired to miss from two yards but proved his class by expertly finding the top corner from distance. Scored twice more for his 11th Premier League hat-trick.
Raheem Sterling 9 – A dynamic performance saw the England forward book-end the scoring while he won the penalty that helped Aguero bag his third.
Gabriel Jesus (on for Aguero, 65) 6 – Had a couple of opportunities to get on the score sheet but was unable to take them.
Riyad Mahrez (on for De Bruyne, 68) 6 – Gave City fresh legs in the latter stages.
David Silva (on for Fernandinho, 75) 7 – Opened up Chelsea’s defence for Zinchenko to tee up Sterling’s second.
9 - Sergio Aguero has scored nine Premier League hat-tricks at the Etihad - the most by a player on a single ground, breaking the record held by Thierry Henry at Highbury (eight hat-tricks). Homely. pic.twitter.com/paQDUIF4PL— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 10, 2019
Kepa Arrizabalaga 5 – Probably should have done better with Gundogan’s low strike but was relatively blameless for the City onslaught.
Cesar Azpilicueta 5 – Conceded the penalty after tripping Sterling, who gave his Spanish marker a tough afternoon.
Antonio Rudiger 5 – Unable to contain the relentlessness of Aguero.
David Luiz 5 – Was powerless to stem the tide.
Marcos Alonso 5 – Unable to handle the creativity of the indefatigable Bernardo Silva, especially in the first half.
N’Golo Kante 5 – A below-par performance from the Frenchman, who sometimes found himself bypassed.
Jorginho 6 – Found himself overrun at times although he was always a willing runner.
Ross Barkley 4 – Inexplicably headed towards his own goal which allowed Aguero to score his second and City’s third, effectively ending any hope of a comeback.
Pedro 5 – A largely anonymous display from the Spaniard.
Gonzalo Higuain 6 – Long-distance volley well saved by Ederson but was unable to impose himself.
Eden Hazard 5 – Caught napping for City’s opener, allowing Bernardo Silva to latch on to De Bruyne’s free-kick, and his mazy runs often came to nothing.
Mateo Kovacic (for Barkley, 52) 6 – Brought on to shore up Chelsea’s midfield.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (on for Pedro, 65) 5 – Could not make an impact.
Emerson (on for Alonso, 73) 6 – Tidy enough from the Italian.
1.2% of the goals Chelsea have ever conceded in the PL have come in their last three away games— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) February 10, 2019
Liverpool may have enjoyed a convincing 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday but they will be more nervous than ever now as a rampant Manchester City side are in hot pursuit of the Premier League title.
The reigning champions demolished an insipid Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium with Sergio Aguero scoring his 11th hat-trick in the English top flight – levelling Alan Shearer’s record.
Maurizio Sarri had no answer as Raheem Sterling opened the scoring four minutes in after Chelsea’s defence switched off – and remained that way. Two from Aguero and one from Ilkay Gundogan left the visitors trailing 4-0 after 25 minutes.
The Chelsea boss didn’t seem to make any notable changes in strategy at the break and Aguero converted from the spot early in the second half before Sterling rounded off the scoring 10 minutes from time.
Here, we grade the performances of both sides in our report card.
City – Sensational Serge
There’s plenty to choose from but we’d be remiss not to highlight Aguero’s frightening form. The Argentine missed an absolute sitter – probably one of the most glaring of his career – early on when he failed to slot Bernardo Silva’s excellent pass across goal into an empty net from close range. His response? A thumping effort from 25 yards to really put City in control before going on to complete his second hat-trick in three games and level Mohamed Salah at the top of the scoring charts with a tally of 17.
Aguero looked disappointed to come off in the 64th minute with the damage done and understandably so, as Chelsea were there for the mauling. He was a nightmare for the centre-backs to pick up as he dropped off and ran in behind intelligently. His contribution off the ball was also commendable, helping to cut off passing lanes and keep Chelsea pinned back, forcing turnovers.
Chelsea – Schoolboy errors
There’s little room for error when you’re playing the champions, especially with the form they’ve been in lately, but Chelsea’s casual defending cost them dearly. For the first Marcos Alonso lazily motioned – to no one in particular – to pick up Bernardo out wide from a free-kick while he ambled into the crowd in the middle. Unsurprisingly, his team-mates didn’t heed his warning and the Portuguese took full advantage.
Sloppy misplaced passes inside their own half were responsible for other goals, including a passage of play that saw a poor David Luiz headed clearance woefully nodded back by Ross Barkley for a gleeful Aguero to bag his second. Then, a clumsy foul on Sterling – who had been dribbling past players for fun – from Cesar Azpilicueta saw the Argentine score City’s fifth from the spot.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
Intensity and breaking through the lines
In many ways, Chelsea’s play is the mirror image of City’s philosophy, devoid of one crucial element – intensity. With a possession-heavy style, there’s a fine line between ponderous and irresistible and City are regularly on the right side of it, Chelsea aren’t.
The other aspect of their passing game that Sarri failed to implement in this fixture is the ability to break through the lines. The away side were often boxed in as their midfielders came short and they tried to play their way out from the back, with City doing well to cut off passing lanes and repeatedly winning possession.
When the hosts played out from defence, the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan were positioned up field. Centre-backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte were positive with their passing, fizzing the ball into the midfielders’ feet. That saw City instantly break through Chelsea’s press and earned them plenty of inviting scenarios against their exposed back-line.
For City: A+
They started like a house on fire and took the game away from the opposition in no time. The passing was slick, movement mesmeric, pressing relentless and defending dominant. City are quite simply playing like champions.
For Chelsea: F
The flaws in Sarriball were evident early on and as the season has progressed teams have learned how to expose them. City were ruthless in their efforts and Chelsea – as ever under Sarri – had no Plan B.