Match Reports & Previews

Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea: What We Learned

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City walks off the pitch after sent off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola’s side created chances a-plenty and stifled Chelsea for the majority of the game, but poor finishing and defending resulted in an undeserved result. Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho later saw red as a 20-man brawl ensued.

Here’s what I learned from City’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea.

Manchester City shoot themselves in the foot

It was the same dejected look that we’ve seen previously from Pep Guardiola. Hands in pockets, eyes fixated to the floor and an expressionless face as he trawled the technical area pondering what could have been. Far too often this season Manchester City have been seemingly unable to capitalise on Pep’s superb set up and tactics. Whether it be through an inability to see a game off or a horror streak of individual errors, this is was an all too familiar experience for some.

And today was no different. Pep had set-up his team perfectly for City had stifled Chelsea and were running them ragged. It was the second half and Chelsea still hadn’t had a shot on target. But when the ball arrived at the feet of De Bruyne, four yards from the goal – a real chance to kill the game there and then – De Bruyne sliced at it. It was a chance that should’ve sealed the victory and afforded City the right to sit back and control possession, but instead, it proved to be the catalyst for Chelsea’s revival.

Personnel let Guardiola down, again

What Guardiola might have been pondering, trawling the technical area, dejected and hand in pocket was whether this side had the perquisite quality to implement his own brand of football. He won’t say it but he knew he had kept his side of the bargain today. Only, once again, his players had not done the same.

Today saw De Bruyne blunder horribly from mere yards while Aguero should’ve buried one of his own. Otamendi, a player I am 100% sure Pep does not rate, was bullied by Diego Costa. While Kolarov, who has somehow become our first-choice defensive back-up, ensured those Bobby Moore-esque early season performances were now a distant memory.

There’s a saying that goes something like ‘however much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig’.

For some players, Guardiola will still believe. For others however, there’s only so much he can dress them up before he has to accept them for what they are.

The signs are not good for Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero has been written about exhaustively in this column. Numerous off the field events have coincided with any on-the-field ones to form the most turbulent period of his Manchester City career.

His goal numbers might paint a picture of a happy man but Aguero’s already been hit with a violent charge by the FA, crumbled in several Argentinian qualifiers, tussled with Guardiola over his fitness and had suggestions that he’d be replaced by Griezmann or Aubameyang next season ring above his head for months. Today he saw red for a wild lunge at David Luiz that will result in an absence that will stretch all the way till New Year’s Day.

You might have noticed a few stray penalties from Aguero but he is still averaging a goal a game this season and delivered a few stunning performances (his match against Barcelona is a prime example) to go with it. He’s given it all as he’s tried to do everything asked of him.

Yet, the satisfaction isn’t there. For all his adulations, Pep still wants more from Aguero. The ensuing frustration and anger is like nothing I’ve seen from him and it is starting to boil over. Aguero knows that, for better or for worse, his efforts won’t be enough to please Pep.

Sergio looks like someone who’s in need of a little love. But will Pep give him the love and assurance he needs? Or is he already eyeing his replacement?

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