The weekend's Premier League action saw Manchester City return to the top of the table on goal difference, thanks to a 6-0 demolition of a Chelsea side currently floundering under Maurizio Sarri.
In a match that had serious implications for both the title race and potentially Sarri's future as Chelsea manager, it was Sergio Aguero who somehow managed to steal the spotlight from referee Mike Dean and remind people of his quality with a record-equaling 11th Premier League hat-trick of his career.
Strangely, Aguero's first major involvement in the game was arguably one of the worst misses of his career when he inexplicably stroked the ball wide of an open goal from all of two yards with the score at 1-0. Pep Guardiola's dramatic collapse to the floor in disbelief might have been a worrying sign for Aguero had it occurred later in the game.
The City manager has displayed an almost zero tolerance policy towards missing such chances, as shown in the Amazon Prime documentary 'All Or Nothing' where he substituted Raheem Sterling for missing a similar chance against Burnley last season. But Aguero was unfazed and took just a few minutes to emphatically redeem himself with a 20-yard strike into the top corner.
He had his hat-trick before the hour mark, which leaves him the joint top scorer in the Premier League so far this season on 17 along with Mo Salah.
Aguero's current form suggests he will break the 20 goal mark for the fifth consecutive league season, the sixth time overall in his City career since arriving in the summer of 2011. Four more goals will bring him to 6th in the all-time Premier League goalscorers list. His goals per minute rate (a goal every 125 minutes) is higher than any of the five players ahead of him on the all-time goalscorers list, including Henry, Shearer & Rooney.
His 43 goals against the Premier League 'big six' since 2011 is far and away the best return of any player during this period. Yet curiously, much of the discussion around Aguero in the aftermath of the Chelsea game has been whether or not he is underrated.
Sergio Aguero loves the big games 🔥 pic.twitter.com/2Dav5xq8Tk
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 11, 2019
Like in any public debate about whether a player is underrated, the clamour from some to counteract that sentiment can often muddy the waters. Just as Ian Wright speaks about how Aguero doesn't get the credit he deserves for what he's done in English football, Jamie Carragher lauds him as the greatest goalscorer in Premier League history.
The flood of tributes now, while triggered by the improvements in his all-round game under Pep Guardiola, are as much an acknowledgement that perhaps at times during his career, the Argentine has been taken for granted by English football.
How does a player with the medals and statistics of Aguero sometimes slip under the radar when people discuss the greatest players of the Premier League era? Perhaps he is a victim of his steady consistency, having never broken through the 30 goal mark nor had a standout season the likes of what we've seen from Ronaldo, Suarez or Salah.
Last season was the first time in his career that Aguero was voted into the PFA team of the year, having been omitted in favour of players such as Romelu Lukaku, Daniel Sturridge & Jamie Vardy in previous seasons. Despite his consistency over the years, he has only one Premier League golden boot to his name. And there is yet to be a season when he has been strongly considered to be in the running for any player of the year awards.
200 – Sergio Agüero has become just the 6th player in PL history to register 200 goal involvements for a single club in the competition, after Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Ryan Giggs (Man Utd), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool). Legends. pic.twitter.com/spCavA725J
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 10, 2019
One factor that hasn't helped is his injury record. Aguero has fortunately avoided any serious long-term absences, but he is likely to pick up one or two muscle or ligament strains per season, that can often keep him out at key stages when individual accolades are being won by his main striking rivals. He has also at times been outshone by some of his City team-mates, particularly in their title-winning seasons.
Last year the plaudits went to Kevin De Bruyne, and in 2014 most of the credit went to Yaya Toure. Not even Aguero's finest moment, his title-winning goal against QPR in his debut season for City was enough to deny Robin Van Persie from winning the 2011/12 PFA crown in his outstanding final season at Arsenal.
How timely might Aguero's performance against Chelsea be with the PFA voting forms being issued to clubs just last week. So far this season Aguero is proving his worth and looking better than ever, so this may finally be the season that City's all-time record goalscorer forces his way onto the podium and claims the individual accolades that his career surely deserves.