Two things that stood out in Manchester City’s 4-0 drubbing of Chelsea

Graham Potter and Lewis Hall look dejected after the team's defeat during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Graham Potter and Lewis Hall look dejected after the team's defeat during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /
Manchester City Chelsea
The outstanding Riyad Mahrez celebrates after scoring against Chelsea for Manchester City on Sunday (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

Manchester City thrashed Chelsea 4-0 in the third round of the FA Cup at the Etihad stadium on Sunday. Riyad Mahrez scored a brace for the home side and Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden scored a goal each, as City offered Chelsea no respite.

Two of Manchester City’s goals came through penalties. The Citizens now might face Arsenal in the fourth round in what promises to be a mouth-watering clash.

We now take a look at two things that stood out in the match:

Manchester City tore Chelsea apart in a clinical first-half performance, with Mahrez and Rodri the standouts:

Manchester City dominated the proceedings from the very beginning, despite dropping a few regulars from the starting eleven.

The likes of Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, Joao Cancelo and Erling Haaland did not start as City started with a 4-3-3 formation with Alvarez as the centre-forward and Cole Palmer and Mahrez on the left and right flanks, respectively. Foden and Bernardo Silva started as the two central midfielders.

Chelsea also started without Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling and they played with a 5-2-3, with Conor Gallagher playing as the right wing-back and Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech as the front three.

However, the game was predominantly played inside the Chelsea half as Manchester City kept playing passes all over the pitch. Chelsea’s defensive intent was quite evident from the beginning as Graham Potter’s side were up against a decidedly superior side.

Still, City found it a bit difficult to break open Chelsea’s defense initially and had to wait until the 23rd minute, when Mahrez scored with a wonderful left-footed curler from a free-kick, to get their opening goal. The floodgates were opened after the goal and City were looking dangerous, with Rodri pulling the strings with his long passes and Mahrez repeatedly cutting in through the inside-right channel.

City then earned a penalty through an intervention of VAR as Havertz quite unnecessarily handled the ball inside the box. Alvarez converted from the spot to give City a two-goal cushion.

Chelsea’s miseries were compounded when yet another darting run by Mahrez split open their defense before the ball was played to a lurking Foden, who tapped in to make it 3-0.

Chelsea fared marginally better in the second half as City romped home comfortably

Potter took off Havertz and Mateo Kovacic at the start of the second half to introduce Sterling and David Fofana, respectively. However, those substitutions did little to alter the course of the match, as City continued to dominate possession.

The Manchester City players showed they were quite adept at playing long passes as well, instead of their customary short passes, as Chelsea struggled to get hold of the ball and relied on sporadic counter-attacks.

Their front three were virtually rendered useless by City’s dominance of the ball and it was not until the 55th minute that the visitors earned their first corner of the match. Mount then got the ball from a short free-kick and took a shot at goal that missed the target by some margin.

Incidentally, Mount’s shot was one of the very few attempts Chelsea had on the day. The visitors then replaced Jorginho with Cesar Azpilicueta, who started playing as the right wing-back as Gallagher switched to a role in the central midfield.

Pep Guardiola also took off Sergio Gomez in favor of Cancelo and started playing a 4-4-2 with Mahrez playing alongside Alvarez as a centre-forward and Bernardo moving to the right flank. Mahrez’s mobility made it difficult for the Chelsea defenders to mark him and the Algerian winger could have scored again midway through the second half, but his shot missed the target by a whisker.

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The second half did not end barren for City, though, as they scored in the 85th minute through a penalty by Mahrez after Foden was fouled by Kalidou Koulibaly inside the box. In a nutshell, it was a complete mismatch, with the home side looking several notches better than the visitors in every aspect of the game.