Graham Potter's Chelsea can't even compete against a Man City without star players, and fans are fed up

Leboeuf fumes after Chelsea's 4-0 loss vs. Man City (1:33)

Frank Leboeuf reacts to Chelsea's 4-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup. (1:33)

MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City sent Chelsea crashing to a fifth defeat in seven games and out of the FA Cup as goals from Riyad Mahrez, Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden sealed an easy 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea failed to reach the FA Cup fourth round for the first time in 25 seasons. The third-round defeat means Chelsea's only hope of silverware this season is in the Champions League -- they face Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 -- but on this evidence, Chelsea won't be lifting the European Cup in Istanbul in June.

Man City, meanwhile, advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the 11th consecutive time, facing the winner of the Monday match between Arsenal and League One side Oxford United.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights & notable moments | Post-game quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Man City rest their big stars and still cruise past struggling Chelsea

Manchester City made easy work of Chelsea to book an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Arsenal or Oxford United, and they didn't even need prolific striker Erling Haaland to help them.

Despite the strength of the opposition, City manager Pep Guardiola started this match with Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and goalkeeper Ederson on the bench. John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo were also left out of the starting line-up.

But in an ominous warning of the depth that City have in their squad -- and of the lack of confidence within Chelsea's -- the home side had the game won before half-time by scoring three times to kill off Chelsea's hopes of a positive result.

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Guardiola's teams throughout his career -- Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City -- have never suffered elimination at the first hurdle of a domestic cup competition, but Chelsea could have threatened that record had they been able to take advantage of City's weakened lineup.

But Chelsea team had lost four of their past six games prior to this fixture and, even before Riyad Mahrez's opening goal, it appeared to be inevitable that the Blues were heading for another defeat at the Etihad.

Chelsea played like a team of strangers without any kind of plan, while City performed as if they were being put through a routine training drill by Guardiola. It was all too easy, and the 4-0 winning margin flattered Chelsea more than City.

Unless League One team Oxford pull off a major shock against Arsenal on Monday, City are likely to face a much tougher test against the Gunners in round four. Although Chelsea were so bad here that even lowly Oxford could give City more of a game if they get through to face Guardiola's side.

2. Potter is becoming Chelsea's version of Moyes when he flailed at Man United

Graham Potter is fighting for his future as Chelsea manager.

The former Brighton boss might limp on until the end of the season, having only been appointed at Stamford Bridge in September, but with every defeat, the 47-year-old is beginning to resemble David Moyes during his disastrous season in charge of Manchester United. Moyes's downfall at Old Trafford was due to multiple factors, but Potter is repeating many of the mistakes made by the Scot at United.

The leap from Everton to United was too big for Moyes, and Potter now looks like he also needed a stepping stone between Brighton and Chelsea, rather than making such a huge move without the required experience.

Just like Moyes, Potter has stayed loyal to assistants and coaches from his previous job, taking them all the Chelsea, but they also lack the credentials required. And Potter is also repeating the Moyes mistake of being too honest and negative when speaking to the media -- after all, sometimes a manager has to talk things up, even when the situation is bleak.

But ultimately, the biggest comparison is results. Potter is losing all of his big games, just like Moyes, and his players are beginning to switch off. Chelsea's players appeared to shrink once Julian Alvarez put City 2-0 up from the penalty spot on 30 minutes and whatever message Potter is trying to get across, it isn't working.

Potter's lack of big-time pedigree, both as a coach and a player, always threatened to work against him if results went awry at Chelsea and that is proving to be the case. It happened to Moyes at United and it is happening to Potter. From this point onward, it is tough to see how he turns his situation around.

3. Chelsea fans cheer for Tuchel and Abramovich, signaling more troubles ahead

Chelsea's defeat at the Etihad consigned the club to their first FA Cup third round exit since 1998 -- a time before the days when trophies were expected at Stamford Bridge.

Since that 5-3 defeat against Manchester United 25 years ago, Chelsea have grown accustomed to success in all of the major competitions, so their supporters are growing increasingly restless at the prospect of no silverware this season.

But when they started to sing the names of former owner Roman Abramovich and former manager Thomas Tuchel during the second half, it pointed to trouble ahead for the new regime at the club.

Tuchel was fired as manager in September less than 18 months after winning the Champions League for Chelsea. The former Paris Saint-Germain coach had also taken the team to last season's FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals, losing both on penalties to Liverpool.

He was popular with the fans, but new owner Todd Boehly chose to dismiss Tuchel after a poor start to this season and replace him with Brighton boss Graham Potter. And Boehly, who has overseen a spending spree in excess of £300m since buying the club from Abramovich, is hearing his predecessor's name being sung by fans because they regard many of his decisions as making the team and organisation weaker.

Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, was forced to sell the club due to sanctions imposed by the British government because of his connections to Russian president Vladimir Putin -- but the Chelsea fans haven't forgotten how he transformed the club into serial winners. Boehly, an American and part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, completed his takeover of Chelsea in May.

Both Potter and Boehly seem a long, long way from emulating their predecessors and if the team doesn't start winning soon, the noise from the fans will only get louder.

Player ratings

Man City: Stefan Ortega 6; Kyle Walker 7, Manuel Akanji 6, Aymeric Laporte 7, Sergio Gomez 6; Rodri 6, Bernardo Silva 7, Riyad Mahrez 7; Phil Foden 7, Julian Alvarez 7, Cole Palmer 6.

Subs: Kalvin Phillips 6, Joao Cancelo 6.

Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga 6; Trevoh Chalobah 5, Bashir Humphreys 6, Kalidou Koulibaly 5, Lewis Hall 6; Jorginho 5, Mateo Kovacic 6, Conor Gallagher 6; Mason Mount 6, Hakim Ziyech 5, Kai Havertz 4.

Subs: David Fofana 6, Omari Hutchinson 6.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City

Scored a stunning free kick to give City the lead and was the best attacker on the pitch.

WORST: Kai Havertz, Chelsea

Gave away a penalty and did little else other than drift around the pitch making little or no contribution before being substituted.

Highlights and notable moments

There were lots of highlights -- as long as you're a Man City fan.

Riyad Mahrez started the scoring off with a sensational free kick in the 23rd minute.

A pretty blatant handball from Chelsea's Kai Havertz went unnoticed in the moment, but video replays don't lie.

After a brief stoppage, Julián Álvarez stepped up to the spot and scored.

This is about the time when it looked like Chelsea were out of it with no hope to wage a comeback.

Man City's Phil Foden made sure of it in the 38th minute.

After those goals, there was a whole second half left to be played, but this one was already decided by half-time. Mahrez added one more penalty in the 85th minute for the 4-0 score.

After the match: What the players and managers said

Chelsea manager Graham Potter on the result: "I thought we were second-best to a very good side. Obviously, we're not in a great moment ourselves and even though it was a cagey first 20 minutes we couldn't attack the back line well enough or attack as well as we'd like. Manchester City did really well in terms of stopping us do that but at the same time, we struggled. It's a fantastic first goal in terms of a strike from a free kick and then there was the strange penalty and it's then 2-0. We then had to chase the ball against Man City and we were caught between trying to commit more men forward and not being opened up. The first half was painful and tough for us all."

Potter on the fans chanting for former manager Thomas Tuchel and former owner Roman Abramovich: "We can't do anything apart from do our jobs better and work harder. We understand the supporters' frustration, that is understandable and we'll respect that. Our job is to do our jobs, to keep working, see the situation for what it is, and of course there are always other opinions, negativity and criticism because the results haven't been positive. That's part of the job and the challenge."

Potter on injuries for Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling, and why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn't play: "Christian opened up his knee in the game the other day. We're still sorting of analysing it but it's going to be weeks I would say for him. Raheem had an action in the first minute of the game, a back-heel that was a bit strange and felt something in his hamstring. Again we're analysing that. Aubameyang had a tight back yesterday so was unable to travel."

Man City manager Pep Guardiola on Potter previously asking for patience from fans: "I would say to Todd Boehly, it was a pleasure to meet him, but give him time. I know results are important in big clubs but I would say give him time. I think the second half today is what he is and what he did in Brighton was outstanding. All the managers need time and he was right. We need time in the first season. I had results in Barcelona in the first season but we had Lionel Messi so one season was enough. But yes, everyone is an idiot [when it comes to managing a football team]. To play against Man City at the level we are at in the Carabao Cup or FA Cup is not easy. Not for Graham, Chelsea or any team."

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • Chelsea's 0.10 xG, or expected goals, on Sunday was their lowest in a game in the past five seasons in all competitions.

  • Julián Álvarez has scored in all five competitions he has played in for Manchester City (Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Community Shield).

  • This is the second time this season in all competition that Chelsea failed to record a shot within the first 30 minutes of a game, the previous being on Oct. 19 in a 0-0 draw vs. Brentford.

  • Man City is the first team to hold Chelsea without a shot in the first half of a game in any competition since Man City did it on Jan. 15, 2022, which City won 1-0.

  • With zero shots from Chelsea, this is the eighth time in the past five seasons that Chelsea has been held to one or fewer shots in the first half of a match, all competitions. Five of those matches have been against Manchester City -- the other three were Newcastle in 2022, Porto in 2021 and Liverpool in 2020.

Up next

Manchester City: The cup competitions continue for the Citizens as they return on Wednesday, Jan. 11 for the Carabao Cup in Southampton (live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET). Then, they stay in Manchester but visit rival Manchester United in Premier League action on Saturday, Jan. 14. (Man City won't continue their FA Cup run until Jan. 28.)

Chelsea: The Blues head to Fulham on Thursday, Jan. 12 in Premier League action and then quickly turn around to host Crystal Palace on Sunday, Jan. 15.