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New and improved Aguero keeps proving his worth to Guardiola & Man City

18:54 GMT 03/02/2019
Sergio Aguero Manchester City vs Arsenal Premier League 2018-19
The Argentine was already one of the Premier League's deadliest ever strikers before Pep Guardiola arrived but under the Catalan he has upped his game

Pep Guardiola has been concerned with his Manchester City side "forgetting to play" in recent weeks but when they do remember to get the ball into the box they can be sure Sergio Aguero will be there to do the damage.

Of course, he cannot simply wait around for chances to fall his way these days and his recently discovered defensive contribution is almost as impressive as the sheer amount of goals he continues to score at the top level.

Aguero's hat-trick against Arsenal takes him up to 14 Premier League goals for this season and it would be a surprise if he did not pass the 20 mark, given he has done so in the past four seasons in a row.

Aguero now has 10 Premier League hat-tricks, more than anybody else bar Alan Shearer, who scored an almost unreasonable amount for Blackburn and Newcastle - not to mention the ones he got for Southampton in the old Division One.

Shearer still tops the all-time Premier League scoring charts with 260, which is 52 ahead of Wayne Rooney, whose English top-flight career spanned the best part of 15 years. Given Aguero has 'only' been in England for eight years he may not reach those numbers, but there is every chance he can end his career in the top three.

The 30-year-old is eighth in the current standings but Sunday's hat-trick means he is now just 27 behind Andrew Cole, who currently occupies third place. That amount should not be beyond him, considering his efforts in recent years.

And 'efforts' is the operative word. It was hard work rather than goals that saved him from Guardiola's axe, with the Catalan spending his first 18 months in charge at the Etihad Stadium urging one of the club's biggest legends to do much more off the ball - both defensively and offensively - if he wanted to stay at the club, never mind on the team sheet.

Aguero and Guardiola have not always enjoyed the warmest of relationships but it is now one that works perfectly; Guardiola is delighted with Aguero's performances, and Aguero is delighted to be playing.

That was not always the case, of course, as Gabriel Jesus was regularly preferred to lead the line, most notably in Manchester derbies.

Guardiola believed that Aguero felt entitled to a place in the starting line-up, owing to his exploits for the club in the early years of the Sheikh Mansour era, and that he did not work hard enough to win the ball back, or link up with his team-mates outside the box.

Aguero was already an iconic Premier League goalscorer at that point but since Guardiola arrived in Manchester he has gone to another level. He is a much more complete player than he ever was and while the Catalan coach deserves credit for insisting on those changes, Aguero deserves just as much for responding to the challenge, and not pushing for a big-money transfer elsewhere.

In one sense this is all ancient history now; with all the disagreements and contract mysteries no longer relevant, there is little danger of Aguero leaving the club in anything other than a dignified and managed way.

Yet all of that is relevant to his reformation as a striker, in explaining how an already great goalscorer took his game up another couple of levels.

Aguero is already City's all-time leading scorer, of course, and with every passing goal he makes the task of overhauling him more and more daunting for whoever dares to one day fill his boots.