Manchester City should by rights win the Premier League. They have the best team and most definitely the best squad.
Certainly if teams play against them like Chelsea did here then Liverpool should cease to fret and instead begin to congratulate themselves on a creditable and hard fought second place.
City played like champions here. Energetic, decisive, merciless and, of course, devastatingly attractive to watch. They scored six – four within the first half an hour – and could have had seven or eight. When they play like this, it is hard to think of a side in England or indeed Europe that could live with them.
But what of Chelsea? Just what was this? Was it just a bad day at work or was it a deliberate attempt to rid themselves of the unstinting demands of their coach Maurizio Sarri?
It is hard to really believe it was the latter. Chelsea have an FA Cup tie at home to Manchester United a week on Tuesday and then a League Cup Final against City the following weekend. If they really are to cut their coach off at the knees then surely they would wait until after those two season-defining moments?
So we have to put this down to incompetence then. We have to presume this was one of this disastrously perfect footballing storms when eleven abysmal performances all arrive at once to form one enormous thunderclap of horror.
It has happened to them before, of course. In their last away game at Bournemouth they had succumbed 4-0. So maybe we should not have been surprised at how awful they were. Even so, it was hard to fathom and if Sarri is to survive this debut season at Stamford Bridge then there is going to have to be one hell of an upturn between now and the middle of May.
PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Fernandinho (Silva 75'), De Bruyne (Mahrez 68'), Bernardo Silva, Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 65'), Sterling
Subs not used:
Danilo, Sane, Otamendi, Muric
Sterling 4, 80, Aguero 13, 19, 56 (pen), Gundogan 25
Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso (Emerson 73'), Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 52'), Pedro (Loftus-Cheek 65'), Higuain, Hazard
Subs not used
: Caballero, Giroud, Willian, Christensen
Of the five goals scored by City here, four of them were coloured by Chelsea mistakes. They were big ones, too. Eden Hazard started it and then Ross Barkley joined in. In the second half, it was Cesar Azpilicueta's turn.
All City could do was go back to the well and keep drinking. Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick – his first an absolute howitzer – and is now City's all-time leading league goal scorer with 160 goals. He has now scored as many home league goals – six – in the last eight days as Huddersfield Town have all season.
So City are back on top of the Premier League and it is where they deserve to be. Despite the horror that greeted their recent defeat at Newcastle, Pep Guardiola's team have now won eleven of their last twelve games in all competitions. That is irresistible form.
They had, of course, lost at Chelsea in early December but anyone who watched that game will know that Sarri's team were hanging on in a first half that their opponents dominated. Here, the feel of the early play was similar but this time Chelsea did not hang on. Instead, they formed an orderly queue and followed each other over the edge of the cliff.
Whether they are hoping that their Italian coach will follow them, only they will know. They can be a mutinous bunch at Stamford Bridge, though. Just as Antonio Conte and indeed Jose Mourinho discovered.
Certainly this was a performance bad enough to get a manager sacked. City are a ruthless, clinical side these days, capable of ripping flesh from bone like dogs. If you encourage them they will destroy you and here Chelsea opened the door to a massacre with some embarrassingly compliant football.
The first goal arrived in only the fourth minute and set the tone for what followed. Marco Alonso and Hazard appeared to abdicate responsibility for marking Bernardo Silva at a free-kick, allowing the City player to ease forward down the right on to Kevin de Bruyne's simple pass.
Silva's cross was only half cleared and when Raheem Sterlng crashed the ball high in to the net from ten yards, the inquest began. On reflection, it was probably Hazard's fault. Alonso could be seen pointing to the Silva-sized gap that needed to plugged and the Belgian – it must be said – didn't seem wholly interested.
So City had the start they needed as they looked to equal or better Liverpool's result from the prevuous day and they immediately seemed to sense that Chelsea resembled pins waiting to be knocked over in a bowling alley.
Aguero missed a straight forward chance after Silva had been afforded the freedom of East Manchester to set him up at the far post and it seemed a horror moment, a moment when the chance to put Chelsea away early in the game had been passed up by the one player Guardiola can usually rely on above all others.
But no sooner had Guardiola recovered than Aguero was driving a sensational shot high in to the corner from 25 yards with his right foot. That was 2-0 to City and that was essentially the end of the contest right there.
Chelsea still had more to give, though. More to give to City, that is. If they were going to go under they were clearly going to do it properly and when Barkley's cataclysmic back header dropped on to Aguero's foot in just the 19th minute he turned to drive it in to the goal from less than six yards.
It was hard to find words for Chelsea at this juncture but the statistics helped to tell the story. Having lost 4-0 at Bournemouth in their last away game, their aggregate score over their previous 65 minutes of away football stood at 0-7. And then it got worse.
This time – in the 25th minute – the scorer was Ilkay Gundogan and it was a nice strike, curled low in to the corner with his right instep from 20 yards. Yet again, Chelsea were architects of their own troubles, though, as Antonio Rudiger failed to clear the ball properly and then Barkley appeared to sway out of the way of the shot when had he stood stock still the ball probably would have hit him on the knees.
Chelsea were drowning and all that remained to be seen was how big was City's appetite for proper destruction. Given that the goal difference numbers at the top of the Premier League are so tight, we expected the City tide to keep rolling in.
Inevitably, there was a slight drop in intensity before half-time and City goalkeeper Ederson saved well from Pedro and brilliantly from Gonzalo Higuain's dipping volley.
But early in the second half Ageuro planted a header on to the bar and that signalled the start of another period of City dominance. The Argentinean's hat-trick goal came from the penalty spot before the hour as Azpilicueta scythed down Sterling on the left side.
Much mirth will be had when footage of Mike Dean's penalty signal spreads round the world on social media but at least the referee's act was a decisive one.
Chelsea, frankly, could have done with a bit of that and they were static again with ten minutes left when Silva's pass to Oleksandr Zinchenko opened Sarri's team up like a tin can and Sterling converted the low cross from six yards.