Maurizio Sarri on Sunday admitted his job as Chelsea manager is at risk after Manchester City scored four times inside the first 25 minutes to trash his side 6-0.
Sergio Aguero grabbed a hat-trick as City leapfrogged Liverpool again to top spot in the English Premier League on goal-difference.
Chelsea on the other hand slip to sixth place, with the scale of the defeat putting Sarri’s future in doubt.
“I don’t know. You have to ask the club,” the Italian said when asked if he feared being fired just eight months into a three-year contract at Stamford Bridge. “I am worried about my team, worried about the performance, but my job is always at risk.”
A 4-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth in their previous away game was Chelsea’s heaviest league defeat since 1996, while this was their worst loss in any competition since 1991 after failing to recover from Raheem Sterling’s fourth-minute opener.
Eden Hazard went to sleep from Kevin de Bruyne’s quickly taken free-kick and Bernardo Silva had acres of space to cross for the England international to fire home.
“We conceded the goal after four minutes in a stupid way,” Sarri said. “At that moment we had to only stay in the match and we were not able to stay in the match because we made a lot of mistakes against the wrong opponents. They played really fantastic football today.”
City boss Pep Guardiola urged the Chelsea hierarchy not to be trigger-happy with Sarri.
The Catalan also suffered during his first year in charge, but always retained the faith of the club’s director of football and his former Barcelona colleague Txiki Begiristain, before leading City to the title with a record 100 points last season.
“My first year was difficult too. In some moments we played good, but not this consistent. People expect the manager to arrive, buy players and it happens immediately,” Guardiola said. “It needs time.”
Liverpool maintain the advantage of a game in hand over City, but the champions look determined to become the first side in a decade to retain the title.
“My feeling is it is going to finish in the last games. The important thing, after what we have done last season, is being there,” Guardiola said. “Normally people fall down after what we have done last season, but we are still there.”
Earlier, Mauricio Pochettino saluted Tottenham Hotspur’s fighting spirit as they kept alive their bid to gate-crash the title race with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City.
Pochettino’s side took the lead through Davinson Sanchez’s first goal for the club, but they were indebted to Hugo Lloris for saving Jamie Vardy’s spot-kick after the interval at Wembley Stadium.
Christian Eriksen netted moments later and although Vardy got one back, Son Heung-min’s late strike ensured third-placed Spurs clinched a fifth win in their past six league games.
The north Londoners are five points off the top of the table as they try to catch pacesetters Liverpool and City.
While Spurs are still outsiders to win their first title since 1960-1961, their ability to stay in contention, despite injuries to key players Harry Kane and Dele Alli, suggests they should not be written off.
“Sometimes you can win games not playing your best. We conceded more chances than usual, but I think the victory is fair,” Pochettino said. “The effort was fantastic, with the circumstances that happened in this game and also this season. I’m so proud.”
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