It was men against boys at Etihad Stadium on Sunday as Manchester City made easy work of Chelsea in the FA Cup third round. Pep Guardiola’s team progressed with a comfortable 4-0 victory to beat the Blues for the second time in the space of four days.
Both teams made several changes to their starting XIs, but only City were able to keep some quality in tact. Despite the absences of Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson and Joao Cancelo, the hosts completely overwhelmed their opponents.
A sublime Riyad Mahrez free-kick, Julian Alvarez’s spot-kick conversion and a wonderful team effort finished off by Phil Foden ensured this game was over and done with within 40 minutes. Mahrez then rubbed salt in Chelsea’s wounds when he converted another penalty late on.
While City were strolling to victory, Chelsea looked far below the level expected of them, and pressure will keep building on Graham Potter; not just because of results like this, but because of the complete lack of fight and competence in his team.
It says plenty that the Blues fans were chanting Thomas Tuchel’s name in the second half, suggesting they have already run out of patience with the man who replaced the German in September.
GOAL breaks down the biggest winners and losers from the most high-profile tie of the round…
WINNER: Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez has done it again against Chelsea! His perfect free-kick sailed past Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the top corner to break the deadlock in a game that had been completely devoid of any big opportunities beforehand. He then converted a late penalty, smashing into the roof of the net to complete Chelsea’s humiliation.
He has scored in all three of his side’s matches against the Blues this season, and now has eight goals to his name in all competitions.
The 31-year-old was a lively figure throughout the match, too, as he was always available to combine with his fellow attackers and put some dangerous balls into the box on occasion.
LOSER: Kai Havertz
Havertz was lucky to escape without a card for a nasty challenge on Manchester City’s Rodri early in the game as he was nowhere near the ball and did not look like he had any intention of going for it when he stamped on the midfielder’s foot.
He then put his team under immense pressure when they were 1-0 down as his blatant handball in the Chelsea box earned a penalty for City, allowing Julian Alvarez to convert and make it 2-0.
The 23-year-old offered zero threat up front for the Blues, either, as he failed to test City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega at any point in the first half.
It was no surprise, then, to see him taken off at half-time and replaced by David Datro Fofana after a forgettable showing.
WINNER: Pep Guardiola
Guardiola got everything right on the day. He made the right changes to his starting XI by giving the likes of Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne some time to rest, but still managed to field a team capable of rolling over their opponents.
They were on top of Chelsea all over the field because they were smart and well-motivated, almost the complete opposite to the visitors.
With another cup game – against Southampton in the Carabao Cup – coming up in three days, followed by the Manchester Derby a further three days later, that time off will help keep two of his most important players fresh.
Guardiola will be pleased to see that the less experienced players at his disposal are capable of getting the job done, which may come in handy as they look to crawl their way back into the Premier League title race while remaining in contention for the two cup competitions and the Champions League.
LOSER: Graham Potter
“F*ck me”, the Chelsea manager was spotted saying as he looked at the replay of Kai Havertz handing City a penalty. It was a fitting reaction, as it seems that conditions really are set up to screw the 47-year-old out of his job.
Support for the coach is plummeting with every bad performance and the Blues fans made their resentment clear in the second half when they started singing the name of his predecessor, Thomas Tuchel.
Potter can hardly be surprised by the anger towards him, however, as he yet again failed to instil any type of fighting spirit in his players for this match. His starting XI indicated that he is prioritising the Premier League over the FA Cup, but his side should at least have been motivated and willing to make a battle of this tie.
Chelsea have won just eight of the 18 matches they have played under the Englishman, and unless that record improves quickly, he could find himself on his way out before the season is even over.
WINNER: Phil Foden
Foden was a pivotal part of this victory, getting in the right place to fire in his team’s third goal to put the game out of Chelsea’s reach and then winning a late penalty.
Foden’s spot in the team is still in dispute, as Jack Grealish is fighting for a regular start in Guardiola’s team.
But Foden’s incredible movement off the ball and ability to get into dangerous positions make him a proper threat for the reigning English champions.
He certainly showed he deserves a place in the City line up, and showed that Guardiola simply must find a starting role for the England international if he wants to keep this brilliant talent happy.
LOSER: Mason Mount
Mount was moved on to the left wing to support Kai Havertz up front, but the Chelsea attack seemed to be a mere hologram as they were unable to carve out a single chance in this match.
While Havertz proved to be such a hindrance on his team that he was taken off before the second half, Mount did not fare any better and was substituted with just over 15 minutes left.
He failed to link-up properly with those around him, and while he did fire off Chelsea’s first shot of the game, it was a tame, inaccurate effort and he was unable to build on that one involvement in the rest of his appearance. — Goal