Sergio Aguero, the ultimate goal guarantor, has earned 'legend' status at Manchester City
Argentine striker produced another masterclass in goal-scoring prowess with his hat-trick at Watford.
Pep Guardiola labelled him a legend, high praise from a manager with notoriously lofty expectations.
If it was perhaps unexpected, Sergio Aguero deserved the acclaim. The Argentine grabbed a hat-trick against Watford on Saturday, the sixth time in his six years in the Premier League that he departed an encounter clutching the match ball. Only Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Thierry Henry have scored more - all considered exemplar exponents of their trade.
Wayne Rooney has six hat-tricks also, although Aguero had climbed to that mark in 278 fewer matches. With the three goals at Vicarage Road, the leading non-European goalscorer in Premier League history now stands three away from City’s all-time record.
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Aguero has struck 175 goals since joining the club from Atletico Madrid in 2011. Eric Brook, an inventive outside left way back when, hit 177 between 1928 and 1940. Brook did it in 494 matches. Aguero has played in 259.
"He's a legend, and it's a part of history in the club," Guardiola said at Watford on Saturday, after City swept to a 6-0 victory one week after hitting Liverpool for five. "Aguero's numbers speak for themselves. He's amazing."
It is amazing to think Aguero began the season with his place in the starting line-up far from guaranteed. A team stocked with attacking midfielders was supposed to leave room for only one specialist striker. Guardiola appeared to favour Gabriel Jesus.
To some surprise, the Spaniard has paired both in four of City’s five league matches. Between them, they have scored nine goals: five for Aguero, four for Jesus. In the past two outings, Aguero has assisted both Jesus’ goals.
At 20, the Brazilian represents the new kid on the block, City's present and City's future. In 15 Premier League appearances, he has been directly involved in 15 goals - 11 goals, four assists. At 29, Aguero is the wily attacker, an integral part of City's glorious recent past. Seemingly at his peak, there should still be much more to come.
With the two in tandem, City have been tantalising. As a result, many people's pre-season title favourites pack genuine title-winning punch.
Aguero remains the lead, a goal guarantor who has found the net at least 20 times in four of the past six seasons. He is a predator par excellence, both a poacher and a producer of outstanding pieces of ingenuity.
To complete his hat-trick against Watford, Aguero collected the ball outside the hosts’ penalty area, accelerated past four opponents and finished deftly from an acute angle. It stretched his run to 21 goals in his past 24 matches for City, dating back to last season.
He has scored in eight consecutive away Premier League starts. Only Robin van Persie has bettered that, for Arsenal in 2011. It emphasises a striker at ease not just in the comfort of familiar surroundings, but on the road, too.
Aguero has starred as City have scored 15 goals in three games across the past week. With three more potential appearances in the next 10 days, the scorer of the most famous goal in City’s recent history could soon supplant the club’s most prolific forward from a time long gone by. Legend, indeed.
Updated: September 17, 2017 03:37 PM