They are calling it the early title showdown. Manchester City take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday, in one of the biggest games of the season, but Yaya Toure shouldn't be part of Manuel Pellegrini's plans.
The Ivorian may have won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award, beating Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andre Ayew to the title, but that doesn't mean he deserves a place in the City side.
Toure, 32, has been heavily criticised over the last year or so for his defensive capabilities. Often played in a midfield two by Pellegrini, the former Barcelona player struggles to be disciplined.
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He was hauled off at half-time against Liverpool in their 4-1 defeat last month, as the Manchester City manager recognised he wasn't able to keep up with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.
And who can blame him? He has never been a holding midfield player. His qualities lie as a dynamic box-to-box midfield player. Marauding through the middle of the park, shrugging off his opposite number and leaving defenders in his wake.
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That is when you get the best out of Toure. When he gets into full flow, there is very little his competitors can do about it. The momentum of his 6'2" build, feels like a steam train hammering its way through the lines of defence.
The temptation for the City midfielder is always to bomb forward when he gets the chance. The power the man possesses quite simply can't be matched. Unfortunately for him, this leaves him with negative headlines.
His driving runs leaves gaping holes for tricky midfielders like the aforementioned Liverpool trio to exploit. In the position he is deployed in by Pellegrini, he shouldn't have the licence to attack at will.
Nevertheless, playing Toure in that position is just a no-win situation. If he bombs forward, you leave space for players to punish you, if he sits back, he doesn't have the awareness to watch runners, nor do you get his authoritative runs.
So unless Pellegrini changes his system, the Chilean has no choice but to drop the Ivorian.
The one player who would be a better option is Fabian Delph. Once again he isn't the ideal candidate for the position, because he shares a similar style to Toure.
However, Delph does acquire more energy than his City colleague. Six years younger than Toure, he is proficient enough to cover for his attacking players as well as supporting attacks.
Nonetheless, it's just under two weeks away until the transfer window and the Chilean can't change that before the game against the Gunners.
Delph is his only option to partner Fernandinho if he wants to win the match. Pellegrini can't let in-form Mesut Ozil have time and space to pick a pass, because they will be punished.
Toure in recent times has been given the role just behind the striker in David Silva's absence. That way he doesn't have to worry about his defensive responsibilities and can be allowed to affect the game in attacking areas.
Now however, the Spanish midfielder is back and unfortunately for Toure, he has to get the nod ahead of him. Silva is more agile, and his range of passes can unlock any defence.
Asset off the bench
Although Toure won't be happy about it, he could provide a brilliant option off the bench. If the Citizens need a goal with twenty minutes to go, Pellegrini could bring on the Ivorian.
In his early thirties he can't be playing every week, especially not in a role which relies on him picking up lively midfielders.
It's time for Toure to take a backseat, and what a super-sub he would be. Not to forget, if Silva gets injured he can come back into the starting line-up and make a devastating impact.
Overall, the criticism of Toure is harsh. The manager is really at fault, the 32-year-old shouldn't be deployed in that position and no wonder the Ivorian is aggrieved. Even so, Toure won't be happy with a spot on the bench either, but may have to for the success of the team.
Do you think Toure should start against Arsenal? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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