As Riyad Mahrez led Manchester City to a 4-0 victory over Chelsea in the third round of the FA Cup, the pressure on Chelsea manager Graham Potter increased, and Aston Villa succumbed to a shocking 2-1 defeat against Stevenage on Sunday.
After Premier League teams Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, and Bournemouth were humiliated by lower-league opponents on Saturday, Villa was rocked by a two-goal strike from Stevenage in the dying minutes.
City, the reigning champions of the Premier League, rarely experience such embarrassment, and they got off to the best possible start by dismissing ignoble Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium with contemptuous ease.
Seven changes were made by the City team that beat Chelsea 1-0 in the Premier League on Thursday.
However, Mahrez scored with a brilliant free-kick and a late penalty, and Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden also scored for City, which was still far too dynamic for Chelsea, which was struggling.
On Monday, either third-tier Oxford or Premier League leaders Arsenal will face off against City in the fourth round.
Chelsea’s first FA Cup third-round exit since 1998 was another blow to a season that was on the verge of spiraling out of control after City had already eliminated them from the League Cup this season.
Even though it is probably too soon for Potter to worry about being fired, the 47-year-old may be having a few sleepless nights as he struggles with his team’s poor form just four months after he arrived from Brighton to replace Thomas Tuchel.
The club’s American owners would have expected Potter to deliver as Chelsea has won just three of their last 12 games across all competitions and is currently 10th in the Premier League.
You can say that it isn’t good enough or make excuses and look for reasons.
“It’s not nice at all that we are clearly suffering as a football club, so we have to keep improving and stick together,”
The sound of Chelsea fans chanting Tuchel’s name as they long for the German coach who led them to Champions League glory in 2021 will hardly have comforted Potter.
Potter’s decision to make six changes, with Bashir Humphreys making his debut and fellow teenager Lewis Hall also starting, was curious given Chelsea’s predicament.
In the 23rd minute, Mahrez blasted a superb free-kick into the top corner, matching his goal against Chelsea on Thursday.
City scored their second goal thanks to a punch from Chelsea forward Kai Havertz, who was challenging Aymeric Laporte at a corner and punched the ball. Alvarez converted the penalty kick in the 30th minute.
Foden finished off Kyle Walker’s cross and scored Chelsea’s third goal in the 38th minute as the team was being torn apart.
Chelsea’s misery was made worse in the 85th minute when Mahrez scored from the penalty spot after Kalidou Koulibaly fouled Foden. Chelsea had lost the previous three FA Cup finals.
Against Stevenage, Villa made eight changes, which the team that is currently second in League Two took advantage of.
Morgan Sanson gave Villa the lead in the 33rd minute, but after Leander Dendoncker was shown the yellow card for a foul on Dean Campbell, Jamie Reid scored a penalty.
In addition, Campbell’s goal from a short corner in the 90th minute sparked wild Stevenage celebrations.
Unai Emery, the villa manager, added: I sincerely apologize to the supporters. Today really disappointed me so much.”
After Cardiff jumped out to a two-goal lead, Leeds was able to escape with a dramatic 2-2 draw at Cardiff thanks to the stoppage time goal scored by teenager Sonny Perkins.