With the fourth-round draw being conducted prior to kick off, both sides were aware that victory today would bring a home tie against Oxford United or Arsenal in the next round, and it will be Manchester City who will be progressing in the competition following a statement victory over a hapless Chelsea side, who suffer defeat at the hands of the Citizens for the second time in three days.
Guardiola’s side ran out convincing 4-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium, with a performance that oozed the dynamism, quality and energy that have become synonymous of Pep’s teams over the years, scoring three first-half goals in a 15 minute period. For the team from London, this result leaves their season in tatters, and really emphasises the sheer amount of work that is required, before they will be able to mix it with the best teams in the country once again.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Chalobah, Humphreys, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Hall; Gallagher, Jorginho (c) (Azpilicueta 63), Kovacic (Zakaria h/t); Ziyech (Hutchinson 63), Havertz (D. Fofana h/t), Mount (Chukwuemeka 73).
Unused Subs: Bettinelli, Cucurella, Badiashile, Thiago Silva.
Booked: Gallagher 62
Man City (3-4-3): Ortega; Walker (c), Laporte, Akanji; Silva (Lewis 86), Rodri (Phillips 58), Gomez (Cancelo 59), Palmer; Mahrez, Alvarez, Foden.
Unused Subs: Ederson, Ake, Stones, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Haaland.
Scorers: Mahrez 23, 85 (pen) Alvarez 30 (pen), Foden 38
Booked: Rodri 54, Silva 70, Cancelo 87
Both sides had made changes from their mid-week Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge, with Potter rotating his squad once again to implement youth from the start with Bashir Humphreys making his Chelsea first team debut.
Gianluca Vialli was remembered with a minute’s applause before the match began, following his tragic passing last Friday – the away team also donned black armbands in his memory, as well as warming up in shirts with the number nine on the back in honour of the Italian.
In a similar manner to Thursday, Chelsea started confidently, beating City’s press on a couple of occasions early on, to nearly fashion openings, although it was Kepa who was called into prominent action first. The Spaniard got a slight touch on Cole Palmer’s shot when the young City midfielder had been allowed to break beyond the backline.
Midway through the first half, though, lightening would strike twice. Not only did Mahrez score the winner in Thursday’s game, he had opened the scoring with a free-kick in the Carabao Cup tie here. The Algerian repeated the trick from further out this time, bending his strike into the top corner, the shot taking a slight deflection off of Gallagher in the Chelsea wall.
The situation would only worsen in a matter of minutes. A corner from the left was inadvertently met with Havertz’s hand, with a penalty awarded following intervention from VAR. The decision was a clear one, and Alvarez beat Kepa to his right despite getting a good hand to the penalty, and the Chelsea Keeper would have expected better from himself.
Chelsea’s confidence was depleted and City began to look more and more dominant and before the home crowd even had a chance to settle, it was 3-0. A swift City move picked up pace when Kyle Walker overlapped onto Mahrez’s pass and cut the ball back for Foden to turn in from six yards. The hosts would nearly make it four before half time when another slick attack opened up Chelsea, but thankfully the stretching Alvarez couldn’t get a touch on Mahrez’s cross. However, it was clear that the tie had been settled, with Chelsea being run ragged and short of ideas.
The second half saw two changes for Potter’s side, with Zakaria brought on for Kovacic and Fofana handed his debut for the Blues, in place of Havertz. It seemed that Graham Potter had also shifted to a three back formation, in order to have some effect on the game. This would result in the first attempt of the second period, and Chelsea’s first of the game, in the 55th minute. A free-kick played short, with Mount going for goal on the spin, his effort deflecting wide of Stefan Ortega’s reach and the far post.
Multiple substitutions from both sides disrupted the flow of the contest and much of the second half passed with little incident of note. Mahrez curled an effort wide, and a similar fate befell Omari Hutchinson, who had come on for Ziyech.
Graham Potter will point to injuries again playing a factor in team selection, but something must be said for the players that are picked not showing adequate effort and desire, particularly some of the so-called senior figures at the club.
Manchester City were ultimately comfortable for the entirety of the game and it only took for them to up the pace of the play on one occasion, to force Koulibaly into a clumsy foul on Foden, resulting in a second penalty for the home side, that was duly dispatched by Mahrez for his second goal of the match.
The final score line does not flatter the Manchester side, who were superb throughout this match. For Chelsea, they will be hoping for a much improved result in their upcoming game against West-London rivals Fulham.