MANCHESTER, England -- Sergio Aguero scored a hat trick as Manchester City moved back up to second in the Premier League, cutting Liverpool's lead at the top of the Premier League to just two points with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
Sergio Aguero has been City's man for the big occasion over the best part of a decade and the Argentinian delivered again. The champions can't afford slip-ups if they are to keep the pressure on leaders Liverpool and Aguero responded when City were finding it difficult at the Etihad Stadium.
City's lack of confidence is both a surprise and a concern if they are to chase down Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. The home side tore into the Gunners in the opening 10 minutes, scoring one, having another disallowed and wrongfully denied a penalty. But Arsenal equalised with their first opportunity and City's belief largely disappeared for the next 30 minutes.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- The decision to move Fernandinho into a hybrid defender-midfielder role was a left-field and courageous decision from Pep Guardiola. City looked flat in the midweek defeat to Newcastle and the City boss tried to shake up his lineup while sticking to their passing principles. While the move was a success, Guardiola's side were still not at their lively best in the first half until another half-time team talk that seemed to shift the momentum back to the champions.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes receive no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 -- Could do little about Laurent Koscielny's well-worked goal but was quickly off his line on a couple of occasions to snuff out potentially dangerous breaks.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Guardiola didn't appear happy with the full-back in the first half when he was defending directly in front of him. Not sharp enough to close the ball down to stop Arsenal threats.
DF Fernandinho, 8 -- Played as a centre-half without the ball and pushed into midfield when City had it. A high-pressure role but coped with it well.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 -- An old-school performance from his early days at the Etihad Stadium when he was too rash with his challenges and it caused him to lose his position.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 6 -- Shifted out into his unfavoured left-back spot. Created the opener and had a goal ruled out for a close offside but didn't always look comfortable in the position defensively.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 -- Sitting at the base of midfield and dovetailed well with Fernandinho's bursts forward. Made a perfect pass in the buildup to the second goal.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 6 -- Lead City on the attack but, at times, strived too much to make something happen rather than sticking to City's normal patient strategy.
MF David Silva, 6 -- Great close control and tried to slide in neat passes around the edge of the box but not much came off for the playmaker.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- Quiet start but showed his quality when his clever movement and touch that created the crucial second goal.
FW Sergio Aguero, 9 -- Three simple finishes, perhaps, but it was all about his movement and hard work off the ball to create the space for himself.
FW Bernardo Silva, 7 -- Busy on the right wing trying to make things happen and shifted the ball quickly with De Bruyne.
FW Gabriel Jesus, NR -- One smart run and shot.
FW Riyad Mahrez, NR -- No time to make an impact.