For Manchester City it was a supreme way to round off an immaculate week. One by one they have been ticked off: first Arsenal, then Everton and finally a Chelsea side that looked in need of smelling salts before the midway stage of the first half. Three games, 11 goals, nine points, and more fool anyone who thought this might be the most difficult assignment of the lot.
What actually happened was a peacock-like spreading of City’s feathers, featuring a four-goal blitz inside the opening 25 minutes, another hat-trick for Sergio Agüero and the feeling, once again, that, if Liverpool can beat this team to the Premier League title, it will rank as the most exceptional performance of any of the championship-winning sides from Anfield through the years.
If anything it was just a surprise City did not add even more sheen to the margin of victory bearing in mind there was never a single part of the match when they looked bored by their own brilliance. City, to put it into context, have now scored twice or more in every Premier League home match this season, a feat no top-division team has managed in 15 successive games since Tottenham Hotspur from March to December 1965, with Bill Nicholson in the dugout and Jimmy Greaves terrorising opposition defences. Including the cup competitions the reigning champions have accumulated 33 goals from their last six home games. It feels like a statistic from another time, a sepia-tinted era of baggy shorts and boggy pitches.
For Agüero it was his 15th hat-trick in City’s colours and perhaps it would be impertinent to dwell too long on the moment, at 1-0, when he also produced possibly the worst miss of all his years in English football. Two yards out, Agüero might argue one would have to go back in time even further to find similar. No matter: his first goal came five minutes later and perhaps there was a measure of anger contained in his firecracker of a shot, 25 yards out, into the top corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s net. Missing a sitter, scoring a screamer – who cares if it was unorthodox when Agüero has 25 goals in his last 16 starts for City at this ground?