LONDON — Sergio Aguero is scoring for fun, and even referee Mike Dean got in on the japes. Only Chelsea had nothing to smile about after a 6-0 humiliation at Manchester City.
Scoring a hat trick for a second successive Sunday in the Premier League meant Aguero was owed another match ball.
Not that Dean was going to make it easy for Aguero to collect the ball. Certainly not as easy as Chelsea allowed the Argentine to net a competition-equaling 11th treble.
Spotting Aguero on the field after the final whistle, Dean tucked the bright yellow ball up the back of his black referee's jersey. Feigning ignorance about the location of the ball, Dean shrugged his shoulders before retrieving it from under his top for a beaming Aguero.
This was a day of misery for Chelsea — the west London club's heaviest loss in 28 years — but one for both City and Dean to flaunt their flamboyance.
When it came to awarding the penalty that allowed Aguero to complete his hat trick — after spotting Cesar Azpilicueta's foul on Raheem Sterling — Dean pointed exuberantly at the spot while jumping dramatically to end up in a pose with his legs outstretched in a squat.
With Raheem Sterling scoring twice and Ilkay Gundogan also netting, Chelsea had nothing to enjoy in this latest embarrassment on the road. As defending champion City reclaimed top spot from Liverpool on goal difference, Chelsea slipped to sixth place, coming on the back of a 2-0 loss at Arsenal and 4-0 collapse at Bournemouth in away games.
With Maurizio Sarri hired after Antonio Conte failed to make the top four last season, the prospect of another season out of the Champions League is likely to imperil the job prospects of another Chelsea manager.
"My job is always at risk so I am not worried about the club — you have to ask the club," Sarri said. "Something is changing. At the moment I am not able to see the reason but I have to work for this because my target is to play my football, not to change (to) another football because at the moment we are playing another football."
Silverware could still be collected in two weeks. Standing between Chelsea and the League Cup is City in the final on Feb. 24 at Wembley Stadium.
English football's national stadium remains the temporary home of Tottenham where the north London club beat Leicester 3-1 in Sunday's other game. It strengthened Tottenham's hold on third place and left Mauricio Pochettino's side only five points behind City and Liverpool.
City has played a game more than Tottenham and Liverpool, which beat Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday.
Since a shock loss at Newcastle, Pep Guardiola's side has now won three games in eight days.
"After Newcastle we spoke to each other and put ourselves in front of a mirror, and accepted the reality," Guardiola said. "After that we worked, moved forward."
Chelsea was un-picked after only four minutes. Kevin De Bruyne released Bernardo Silva, who cut back for Sterling to strike into the net.
Before starting on his way to another hat trick, Aguero uncharacteristically missed the target from close range.
"I told him not to do it again," Guardiola said. "But, after, his reaction was a little bit better."
And Aguero went some way to erase memories of the miss — unleashing a powerful shot that flew in from 25 yards (meters) in the 13th minute.
"Out of nothing," Sterling said, "he can put the ball in the top corner and players like this, you have got to cherish."
Aguero was on target again within six minutes. Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley inexplicably headed a clearance back toward danger and Aguero pounced by shooting on the turn.
After Antonio Rudiger's poor clearance, Gundogan slotted in the fourth in the 25th before Aguero netted the penalty that completed his 15th City hat trick in all competitions in the 56th.
Sterling's tap-in after being picked out by Oleksandr Zinchenko in the 80th completed Chelsea's heaviest loss since Nottingham Forest beat the west London club 7-0 in 1991.
Even without injured Harry Kane, Tottenham is reeling off victories. It's now four out of four in the league without the team's top scorer.
But the 3-1 scoreline against Leicester didn't reflect the nerviness for Tottenham.
Davison Sanchez headed in Tottenham's opener in the 33rd from Christian Eriksen's corner. But on the hour, Leicester was awarded a penalty when defender Jan Vertonghen knocked over James Maddison.
Jamie Vardy, having been dropped from the starting lineup, was summoned from the bench only to miss the spot kick with his first touch.
Eriksen then doubled Tottenham's lead inside three minutes. Just as Leicester pressed for an equalizer, Son Heung-min scored a breakaway goal in the first minute of stoppage time.