There’s an extra spring in every City fan’s step this Monday morning in the wake of yesterday’s superb 3-1 win over Arsenal.
And, not surprisingly, the Press are unanimous in their praise for one man in particular… hat-trick hero Sergio Aguero.
Our all-time record goalscorer delivered yet another individual masterclass to help settle what was a pulsating Etihad clash with the Gunners.
More crucially, Kun’s treble reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League with leaders Liverpool to just two points ahead of the Merseysiders’ trip to take on West Ham this evening.
Leading the way in the salute to Sergio was The Guardian with chief football writer Daniel Taylor waxing lyrical about the Argentine’s qualities.
Taylor writes: “By the time Sergio Agüero was finished it was difficult to imagine quite where he finds the space to keep all the balls he has collected as souvenirs of his hat-tricks.
“Agüero, one imagines, can afford the kind of property where they are all on show, along with enough trophies and medals to fill an aircraft hangar.
“Which is probably just as well bearing in mind this was the 14th time he has scored three or more in a game for Manchester City.
“Ten of those hat-tricks have come in the Premier League and, if you were to believe that top-division football was invented in 1992, the relevant statistic is that only Alan Shearer, with 11, has more.
“Who would bet against Agüero claiming that record for himself one day? His priority, of course, is another championship medal but, on this evidence, maybe he would like to think the two even go in tandem.
“These were the goals that meant him reaching the 20-goal mark this season, as he has done in seven of his eight years in Manchester, and when his latest hat-trick was confirmed – a little fortuitously bearing in mind the ball went in via his ribs and elbow – it meant he had scored 22 times during the last 15 home matches for City when he has been in Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up.
“More importantly for City, he had also made the telling contribution on the day the reigning champions gave Arsenal a harsh reminder about the level of artistry that is required to harbour authentic title aspirations.”
There was similar admiration on display from the keyboard of the Daily Mail’s chief sports writer Martin Samuel who sought to put Aguero’s achievements into proper context.
Samuel scribed: “It was sort of the perfect hat-trick: a header, one with the right foot, one with the left, er, elbow. Still, that is not what will be concerning football's historians in the years to come.
“This was the 14th hat-trick of Sergio Aguero's Manchester City career, and his tenth in the Premier League – bringing him one short of Alan Shearer's modern era record of 11.
“How impressive is that? Well, consider the context. As of Monday morning Aguero has scored as many league hat-tricks as Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Mo Salah, Eden Hazard, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona – combined. Take Drogba out and put Steven Gerrard in, and he's got more.
“This is a phenomenal, match-winning, title-winning goalscorer, one of the greatest English football has seen. Will he win the title again this year? If not, it won't be for want of trying.
“Aguero's hat-trick on Sunday wasn't spectacular but it was the striker's art encapsulated – yes, even the one that shouldn't have been allowed. All three were from close range, the result of an innate understanding of where the ball would arrive. That sort of talent is instinctive.
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“'I turned up and the ball turned up,' Jimmy Greaves once recalled. 'I didn't know what made me go there.'
“That is what happened to Aguero. He turned up and the ball turned up: three times, the sum total of his scoring attempts. Each time he found a way to get it across the line.”
Another of the national newspaper heavy hitters, the Daily Telegraph’s chief football correspondent, Jason Burt, was left similarly impressed by City’s very own lethal weapon.
Burt reported: “A natural born striker, a predator, a finisher Aguero once more departed with the match-ball after scoring another instinctive hat-trick as City re-asserted themselves in the Premier League title race.
“He was born with that talent, he will die with that talent,” declared Pep Guardiola afterwards and for all the artistry, for all the beauty and aesthetic precision of the football the City manager demands he needs a cold-blooded, ruthless forward like Aguero to complete it. Arsenal simply could not stop him.
“Each of his three goals came from deep inside the opposition six-yard area which shows not only the quality of chances City create but his innate sense for hunting them down.
“Header, right foot and left foot or hip – or handball as Arsenal cried with some justification with that third goal. “I think it came off my chest, but now I see on TV it was a handball,” Aguero admitted although it was an inadvertent connection as he slid in to bundle the ball over the line before goalkeeper Bernd Leno clawed it out.
“The goals followed a pattern – pass out wide, pull back and finish and Arsenal were cut open. Aguero provided the rapier.
“This result means that City overtake Tottenham Hotspur, return to second-place and reduce Liverpool’s lead to two points ahead of their visit to West Ham United on Monday evening for their game in hand. Furthermore it was City re-discovering themselves after the odd, out-of-sorts defeat away to Newcastle United in midweek.”
Finally, ESPN’s chief football correspondent, Mark Ogden, believes Aguero’s remarkable goalscoring prowess could prove the defining factor if the Blues are to overhaul Liverpool and retain our title.
Ogden reports: “Nothing that Aguero does will ever eclipse the drama of his title-winning goal for Roberto Mancini's City, on the final day of the 2011-12 season, when he scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time against Queens Park Rangers to seal the 3-2 victory which secured the title on goal difference from Manchester United.
“The 30-year-old has gained two more Premier League winners' medals since that first triumph, yet winning a fourth this season will require perhaps the best goal-scoring run of his career in order for City to overhaul Liverpool and successfully defend the title.
“Aguero's hat-trick against Arsenal on Sunday -- he has now scored 10 goals in 12 games against Arsenal -- moved City to within two points of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, who can restore their five-point lead with a win at West Ham on Monday.
“But Aguero's contribution against the Gunners, who slipped to sixth position with Sunday's 3-1 defeat, saw him take his 2019 goals tally to seven in seven games in all competitions.
“Aguero is hitting form at just the right time for Guardiola's team and, City will hope, could go on the kind of scoring streak that Mohamed Salah had for Liverpool in the second half of last season.
“Twelve months ago, Salah started 2018 like a train and his goals (the Egyptian scored 21 between the beginning of January and the end of May) propelled Liverpool to the Champions League final and earned the former Chelsea forward the honour of being named Footballer of the Year.
“City have a number of players who are capable of having a Salah-like impact between now and the end of the season, but none are quite so reliable and crucial to the team as Aguero.”